vent sesh: I have to pee

My life revolves around pee. When I’m going to pee, where I’m going to pee, do I have to pee, I hope I don’t have to pee.

If you want to talk about pee, I’m your girl.

While my issues with peeing — and I’ll get to those in a moment — might be unique, I realized I’m not alone. Even celebrities are admitting it! (or well, at least endorsing products related to leakage!). This might make for a random vent sesh but in the spirit of diving into topics most women rarely chat about, or feel comfortable addressing, let’s do this…

Incontinence! Woot, woot, always aiming to up the glam factor around here.

It cracks me up to a certain extent how women can talk about all sorts of issues — but a little pee in our pants (which by the way, studies show can happen up to 1 in 3 women!) — is taboo. I get it, who in their 30s, 40s or 50s want to be compared to issues that plague either babies or those hovering in the 80+ range? Heads up… if it’s happening to you, you’re not alone (it’s just that none of your friends want to admit it!). Well, my hand is raised…

Most people don’t know but one of the lasting impacts to being diagnosed five years ago with transverse myelitis is major bladder damage.

{stuff’s about to get real here…}

It was the first thing to give out on me when my spinal cord suddenly suffered major damage, and one of the main functions I never got back. It sucks. I can’t get pee to come out, or, conversely, my bladder spasms so frequently that it automatically empties when it hits a certain amount of liquid (i.e. pee everywhere) that I have to get Botox directly injected every six months to prevent the spasming.  The result is that I use a catheter every time I feel the urge to pee (it looks like a straw). I’m now used to this process five years later but you can imagine issues related to peeing, sanitary conditions (I’m super prone to UTI’s), where restrooms are, etc. that are constantly in my thoughts.

Should I be embarrassed? Nah. I’m more frustrated. It’s one of the only things that can bring me down. It impacts just about everything. Botox doesn’t work as well as it used to (though I love that Botox for bladder commercials are popping up!).  Being extra honest, I’ve had a few accidents, sigh — so I’m debating a medical device for a longer term solution. Not there yet, but researching. I’m grateful as hell every day that I’m walking but it’s a plaguing frustration that’s hard to convey. Yet, it’s also a powerful reminder that we’re all carrying around something most of us cannot see. Have to be kind to each other. {especially while waiting in line at the bathroom! Please let me skip if you ever see me!}

While my situation is extreme I actually notice a cultural difference from a few years ago. Five years ago, I was mortified having to buy pads (which by the way, pads for your period and pads for peeing… very different! Let’s just say one is capable of holding a lot more liquid!). Now, and perhaps I’m also a little more bold/who gives a shit, peeing problems seem more common place and accepted. The brands are making cooler, more abstract packaging, and celebrities are willing to take a pay day to publicly endorse a brand dealing with bladder problems. Plus, those Botox commercials with people in our general age range. We’ve come a long way.

You know why, I think? Because it’s a common freaking issue. A frustratingly common issue that’s sucky to talk about. And again, while my potty issues are neurological, the outcome is the same for so many other women.

I know a lot of moms who have had a natural birth get it. Friends have told me. And, I think they’ve only told me because they know I can relate. Post partum, friends can’t laugh, cry or run without pee coming out, or they’re just generally constantly on the hunt for a bathroom. It happens to some for months, some for years and some forever. I hear ya, mama. it’s stressful as hell. It’s reality, and it sucks.

If you’re one of these women — and according to my statistics, at least a few of you must be — it’s common and worth trying to see a doctor. Bypass your OB/GYN if that’s the only doctor you chat with, and definitely consider seeing a urologist, or a pelvic floor specialists… they are physical therapists who specialize in this. They’re really helpful. You can do the magical kegels (an all-around win) and depending on the reasons for your peeing, there’s even medicines that can help your bladder store more liquid.

Remember how no one years ago would discuss mental illness or admit to being on anti-depressants? Now, it’s so mainstream because we created a conversation. This is another one dialogue we need to start. I’m glad it’s happening, albeit for the profit of some big brands. It’s happening and it’s important.

I’ve been through it all. Let’s just be honest. Pee happens. A little water never hurt anyone.