Dealing with Stress Urinary Incontinence
By Kelli McKee
I suffered for 26 years from a condition that I recently discovered is very common and can easily be repaired. When I started talking openly about incontinence I was amazed at how many other women, and even men, were suffering from some type of incontinence. Every sneeze, every cough, every time I ran or jumped, even intimacy, was causing bladder leakage. It was there every day with everything I did. I decided it was time to consult a local pelvic floor specialist. Through some testing, I was diagnosed with stress incontinence. The specialist explained to me the high success rate of a surgical procedure to fix my problem. He also referred me to physical therapy. From talking to both the specialist and the physical therapist, I learned a lot about myself and my incontinence.
My stress incontinence was caused by childbirth. Since the birth of my first child, an average 7-pound 14-ounce baby, I have been suffering and dealing with incontinence. There were no special circumstances or complications before, during or after childbirth- tissue and nerve damage occurred during the natural delivery of my child.
So, after 26 years of dealing with stress incontinence and wearing uncomfortable protective pads, which did not always work, I did not hesitate to have surgery. On the day of my surgery, even before the procedure, I was excited and looking forward to my new life without incontinence.
It has been seven months since I had my surgery and since day one, I am beyond pleased with my results.
If I would have realized how much control incontinence had over my life, I would have had surgery years ago. I am able to run and play with my grandchildren in a way that I never could with my children when they were little.
I have learned the hard way that incontinence is nothing to be embarrassed about. So many people suffer from this. I say “suffer” because incontinence does hold you back and it controls your life. Wearing protection is uncomfortable and sometimes I felt like someone might be able to tell, and I was embarrassed.
My journey to freedom from incontinence was easier than I thought it would be. I made my own appointment with pelvic floor specialist Dr. Jason Rexroth with Crossing Rivers Health Center for Specialty Care; no referral was needed from my primary doctor. Dr. Rexroth ordered a urodynamic test. This was uncomfortable, but necessary. He also referred me to physical therapy where I met Melanie Schneider, Physical Therapist with Crossing Rivers Health Rehabilitation Services. Melanie explained that she had furthered her education to treat individuals with incontinence. Melanie also explained that while urge incontinence can be helped primarily with exercise and muscle strengthening, stress incontinence like I had needs surgical intervention along with exercise and strengthening. Melanie compared stress incontinence to an ACL tear; although exercise can help strengthen the tear, it will not be stable until the ligament is repaired surgically. Next, Dr. Rexroth scheduled me for surgery.
Although I cannot get back the past 26 years of living with incontinence, I am going to live the rest of my life incontinence free, able to do more physically. I am able to laugh, cough, sneeze, run, jump on a trampoline and be intimate without any incontinence or even worrying about it.