Standing in the aisle at Target, my legs were frozen as the variety of Poise, Depends, and Always bladder protection pads were making me come to a party that I had absolutely no interest in attending.
My MS and I are supposed to be friends with a clear understanding of how our friendship works. She reminds me when I need to rest or get to out of the heat. After 17 years, I guess I misunderstood our friendship. Instead, I felt betrayal and an immediate fear that no one would want to date the “girl with MS that has to wear a diaper”. After avoiding the aisle with the bladder pads doing that familiar stroll around Target, the tears began to flow as I stood in the aisle frozen. I had lost control of my bladder, and it was the fault of MS. Right now, I am a little disappointed in her.
My fingers began texting my friend Dion telling her that I was paralyzed in Target as I shared my secret shame with her. Quite honestly, I figured she could call-in admitting orders for Grady’s Mental Health Unit because I felt trapped and lost. During our conversation said she the one sentence that immediately gave me a small ounce of control, “Let’s talk through this together.”
You read about the process of getting diagnosed, the symptoms, and what may happen to you as the disease progresses. What cannot be captured in an article or discussions with your physician is how you feel when you begin losing control of small but significant things. For me, it was my bladder.
Allow me to share a little bit about myself, I am what you might call a “proactive peeing ninja”. I know where bathrooms are in most stores, and how to go undetected in places that have “Restrooms are for Customers Only” signs on their front doors. Thinking I was mastering the art of “doing what I do best”, the urgency and accidents became more frequent despite peeing even if I felt the slightest pressure on my bladder. Not only had I lost control of my bladder, I had also lost control of my emotions when the self-proclaimed title as “proactive peeing ninja” faded away like a former boxing champion losing a comeback bout.
There I was in the Target aisle facing the reality of my 37-year old self with MS losing control of my bladder on a frequent basis. Thanks, MS for the incontinence. After the tears stopped, I gained my composure and took control by selecting the Always Bladder Leak Protection Pads to take home. Truthfully, they were a familiar friend that would be with me every day on this new chapter in my journey instead of one week out of the month. I wanted to leave this party quickly with some ounce of my pride remaining.
It would be a lie to say that I am over the emotional feelings of shame and loss of control that will never be adequately translated in those conversations with your physician or other patients. However, when you find yourself frozen in a Target aisle, may you have a friend to say, “Let’s talk through this together” and find the one thing you can control in that moment. For me, control was the brand of bladder pads that I walked to the register and purchased.
Wearing my bladder pad has become a part of my morning routine, and I have a few extra in my bag for controlling the potential feeling of embarrassment when I have an accident. I still am a “proactive peeing ninja” with an extra weapon in my arsenal.