Have you ever sneezed and then suddenly felt a spot of wetness down there? Or lost all motivation to jump rope for fear of unloading your bladder with each jump? Or maybe you really do want to play “Red Light, Green Light” with your kids, but it’s just too inconvenient to prepare? I think as mothers, we deal with it. We deal with a lot. This is just one more thing we slap a bandaid on and then continue on with our life. We make it work. However, if you pay close attention to what you are feeling inside, you will notice a little piece of you gets lost. That lost piece gets larger each time you can’t do something or if you hold back to prevent/stop/slow down the pee.
In 1 day I will be undergoing something that, I believe, will change my world. For the last 7 1/2 years I’ve been dealing with incontinence from giving birth to a 9lb baby boy who had a huge head and the cord wrapped around his foot. For hours I felt like he was just plain stuck. The labor did some damage. About 3 1/2 years later my second baby boy slid on out without me even noticing – this time with the help of an epidural. There are a ton of other crazy things that happened with both pregnancies, and so I’ve come to the conclusion – despite a pregnancy book that said “Women are built to have babies” – that I in fact was not built to have babies. I wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I’m built to raise them, but not have them.
One of my favorite things to do in life is run. Running is my best friend. I’ve cried, laughed, worked through relationship stuff, worked out professional struggles, and have been struck by stop-in-my-tracks awe over the surrounding beauty on many occasions while running over the last 20+ years. On top of running, I am also a personal trainer, fitness instructor, high school running coach, and mom to two amazing, happy, smart, ACTIVE boys. My life is filled with physical activity. I am not one to just sit around, unless I’m writing a blog post, planning workouts, or lesson planning for my Life Skills class. I never stop moving, much like my two boys. This activity also means that I’ve gone through a lot of laundry and pads over the years.
I’ve tried everything from diet (thinking that maybe my hormones were out-of-whack), to physical therapy, to even taking a ton of pelvic core and post-natal personal training workshops. I’m now vegan and have balanced hormones, don’t drink alcohol, have a really strong core, and have worked my body in every way known to help incontinence, yet I still have this problem. So, my next step? I perfected my coping strategies for incontinence: I basically don’t drink any water during the day, which is not good, if I know I have to be active in the afternoon (coaching or fitness class), bring extra pads wherever I go, the treadmill is less impact so if I don’t feel like dealing with being soaking wet I usually head there, change my stride from the hips/glutes when needed to avoid excessive leakage (which leads to injury I found), and lately I’ve been opting out of physical play with my boys so I don’t have to deal with it.
The last one is what got me to call up the doctor. I’ve ALWAYS been physically active with my boys. We were always playing some sort of game that involved running, jumping, tagging, tackling, etc… I got so sick of having to change my clothes, that I just stopped. Plus, my boys got older and bigger, so I had to be even more active with them. But, after sitting in a lecture with the author of “Boys Alive” I realized that boys need physical play with their parents. It’s how they work things out. Also, before I know it, they are not going to want to run around with me. They are going to be off on their own adventures with their buddies in a matter of time and I am missing out on the present – this precious and short-lived time together. I have done everything I possibly can do decrease my symptoms, but nothing has worked. Now it is time to make something happen.
Three weeks ago I called to make an appointment with an OB I’d never met, at a hospital I’d never been to before. I was a long-time patient at UCSF and I had started incontinence care there, but we moved and I dropped my health needs. So, exactly two years later I found myself on the phone giving my information to someone new and suddenly they had a cancelation for the very next day. Was the universe speaking to me? On Thursday morning, I woke up and raced to get myself ready and to my appointment – early! I arrived and was seen straightaway and within 30 min I had my surgery scheduled. I couldn’t believe it. Years of trying different things and completely unsure about taking this step, and it happened so naturally and quickly.
The tools used are smaller, but the procedure is the same as it’s been for the last 10+ years. They will be using mesh as a sling and inserting it under the urethra. The sling will support the urethra and help keep it closed – especially in those unexpected times of a cough or sneeze! There’s a 1% risk of it not working, getting an infection, making it worse, and/or making it work too good. I can’t run or lift more than 5lbs for 6 weeks. For that bond that I will regain with my boys, I think it’s worth the 1% risks and the time spent recovering.
I’m looking forward to worry-free running, when I can race down a hill and not do the biggest kegal exercise ever, or sneak attack my boys in a game of tickle tag, or put on a surge in a race and not have to change my stride to avoid leakage, or race my boys around our yard without running in to get a pad first or changing pants later. It’s going to be good. I’m going to feel like a new person.
If you are like me and have been contemplating surgery for incontinence, follow me as I will be posting my recovery and road back to leakage-free physical activity!
Keely Grand –
Keely is a plant-powered wife, mother, runner, personal trainer, high school running coach, high school health/life skills teacher, and freelance writer who doesn’t drink alcohol and is all about that PMA – positive mental attitude. She has spent her entire life trying to make people happy and healthy, but getting her master’s degree in Health Communication, certification in Personal Training, and later a certification in Plant-Based Nutrition is what gave her the tools to be successful in that pursuit. Keely’s belief is that the only way to lead people to happy, healthy lives is to live a happy, healthy life. So, she truly walks the walk.