“You don’t have to endure this problem. You can get better.”
This is what Shan Morrison, Pelvic Floor physiotherapist and Continence Foundation of Australia ambassador, said to me when I stepped into her office last week.
I was about to have my first continence assessment with Shan about my ‘wee problem-bladder’ leakage.
I thought I might feel embarrassed or awkward, but I actually felt very comfortable. Surprisingly, there was nothing difficult about it. Shan was reassuring and positive. She said I don’t have to live with bladder problems and that my situation can be improved or even cured.
In our session, Shan asked a few questions to understand the history of my problem. She asked about my liquid intake, when and how often during the day that I go to the loo. Also, if I could stop mid-stream?
I learnt about two types of incontinence - fear-based and issues relating to the pelvic floor. I remember in primary school that I had
a weak bladder and the teacher would reprimand me for asking to go to the toilet during class. My Mum eventually intervened, but I think my body became confused about the impulses to go to the bathroom. Because of my concerns, I became out of tune with my body’s needs.
Years later, after I had my children, I was naughty and didn’t do my pelvic floor exercises. This meant my floor was weak and I leaked - especially when I laughed. That’s a very dangerous situation for a comedian!
Unfortunately, those issues continue - even though my kids are almost grown up.
A key message I took from the chat with Shan is that anyone with bladder or bowel problems should not be afraid to ask for help. When you see someone like Shan, you are in the hands of a professional; they are not going to judge you, they know their stuff, and they are here to help.
At the end of our chat, Shan asked me to complete some homework - she asked me to record my intake and outflow of liquids. Completing it will help to track and assess my problem.
It’s only the beginning but I already feel like I’ve begun a healing journey. I’m regaining control. I feel hopeful for the for-wee-able future.
The next stop on the road to Destination: Continence is a physical examination.
Wish me luck for fewer leaks, less often! I’ll check back in with you at the next stop on the journey.
Yours in continence,
To get help for bladder, bowel and pelvic floor health:
- Call the free National Continence Helpline 1800 33 00 66
- Go to continence.org.au
- Or talk to your doctor
For information on healthy bladder and bowel habits in primary school, check out our Toilet Tactics kit. The Kit is divided into sections for teachers, students and parents