The medical information bit
As disabled people we often have a more intimate interest in our bladder than most. At the most extreme end catheters of various sorts are involved.
I have one close friend who has a supra-pubic catheter so we often talk about the problems she has. Supra-pubic catheters are only usually used for people with severe spinal damage or who have had multiple problems using urethral catheter, i.e. one’s that go in through the urethra.
The articles written by The Times columnist Melanie Reid – who is now tetraplegic following a riding accident describe only too graphically the very small gap between a healthy bladder and severe and life-threatening sepsis.
When I first realised I needed to limit my trips out to places where I could plot a route between loos, I determined this would not restrict me. I remembered about a card I could carry. I also knew that I could take medication.
The card is called I just can’t wait and is available from the BBF
The medication I take is Oxybutynin which is used to treat people with irritable bladder syndrome and other related conditions.
Oxybutynin can be taken in tablet form or as a patch. Please be aware there are alternative options and that Oxybutynin does not suit everyone. I’m fortunate, it works perfectly for me in that my bladder control has greatly improved. I no longer have to desperately rush to the loo more often than is convenient.
This is specially relevant for me in the mornings. I often wake up with severe numbness in both my feet and at least one of my hands and some times both. It can take up to half an hour for my body to decide to start working properly. Prior to medication I would usually end lurching sideways and hitting myself on some furniture or at worst, completely fall over.
For those who want a non-interventionist approach – there is the option of badder re-training. A leaflet from Kings College Hospital, London gives lots of good information.
Some women find Kegel exercises help and wikihow has a great set of instructions.
There are also Kegel exercises for men which are sometimes advised after prostate surgery. This is the link to a useful US leaflet.
Bladder problems are not inevitable whether you are disabled or just getting older. There is plenty of help. Some medical professionals will try everything not to prescribe you medication. But you have a right to access the treatment you want. If you are refused treatment, seek further advice from another doctor or specialist nurse.