The Continence Foundation of Australia is leading the World Continence Week celebrations with our Laugh Without Leaking campaign featuring comedian, actress and mother-of-two Bev Killick, who has struggled with incontinence for most of her life.
Laugh Without Leaking has been rolling out across TV, newspapers, radio and across the Internet using humour to encourage people to talk about their bladder, bowel and pelvic floor issues, as the first step to seeking help. It has heralded the discussion of personal stories of resilience and inspiration, and facilitated the message that the majority of bladder and bowel problems can be better managed or even cured.
“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,” says Bev.
“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!”
But Bev turned her continence trials into a comedic triumph, writing her experiences into her stand-up routine.
“Whenever I’m on stage, I get the audience to do pelvic floor exercises and I actually do them too – I’m not just pretending. When I did a show called Busting Out I used to put a pad on to catch leakage. I would be onstage for 40 minutes at a time, so I didn’t have a chance to go to the toilet and it involved a lot of jumping around. It happens to a lot of singers, you’d be surprised. Especially when you’re singing and you’re really using your diaphragm to belt out the songs … oops I did it again!”
By becoming the ‘face’ of continence, Bev is now on the road to improving her own bladder control issues.
“’You don’t have to endure this problem. You can get better!’ That was the greatest news I could hope to hear after my first consultation with a pelvic physiotherapist.”
“I thought I might feel embarrassed or awkward, but I actually felt very comfortable. Surprisingly, there was nothing difficult about it. At last I feel hopeful for the for-wee-able future,” she smiles.
Seek help for bladder and bowel problems, as the symptoms will not go away on their own, and may worsen over time. For further information speak to your doctor or a continence nurse advisor on the free and confidential National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 or visit continence.org.au