I often talk about having a stoma however I rarely talk about why I have a stoma. I’ve had bowel problems my whole life and when I was 16/17 I was finally diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Last week was World Continence Week & I thought I would share my story because incontinence is definitely a taboo subject and needs to be spoken about more!
1 in 4 people will encounter some type of bowel or bladder problem in their life, which is actually quite a lot! However it’s still a topic which isn’t talked about much and is mainly associated with older people even though it affects young people too. I know that I have always been slightly embarrassed about talking about incontinence and when people (who weren’t my doctors) asked about my symptoms I always used to glaze over the fact I was basically incontinent – stable is definitely not a word which I have ever associated with my bowel!
At least a month before I had my ostomy surgery, I had little to no control over my bowel. Mixed with needing to go to the toilet up to 40 times a day, it wasn’t great. Lets just say my candy crush score was very good! Before going into hospital, I didn’t want to go out much as I was terrified of not being able to find a toilet. This had a real impact on my mental health as well as my physical health and as well as being incontinent, I was hardly eating and in pain.
Having a stoma, for me, has literally been the best thing which could happen. Even though I still have no control over my bowel, I don’t have to worry about it because of the bag. I can eat and I’m no longer have to deal with daily pain which is always a plus!
I feel like after may years of dealing with incontinence, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks over the years on how to deal with incontinence. Three of my main tips are;
If you are struggling with incontinence and are a woman, I really recommend using sanitary towels if you’re worried. At 18 I didn’t want to be wearing adult nappies and for me it’s a much more discreet way to feel protected. I know this isn’t an option for men sometimes, but NRS have produced this really nifty guide, aimed at men, for incontinence as men are much less likely to go to the doctors and talk about it.
Whatever your gender, incontinence isn’t fun but you shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about it. Trust me, I know it’s a lot easier said than done, but confide in people and don’t feel ashamed. If you haven’t yet, make sure you go to the doctors if you are suffering and talk to them about ways to cope and carry on a ‘normal’ life.
I hope you’ve found this post useful and please leave your tips for dealing with incontinence, or your thoughts on taboo subjects like this, in the comments below!