Some of my most embarrassing moments with multiple sclerosis have been bathroom related. It’s not always easy to talk about the challenges I face on a daily basis when it comes to toilets, toilet paper, and accessibility. It’s not like I can just start a conversation, “You wouldn’t believe the mess I made in less than 10 seconds flat yesterday.”
The muscles that control my bladder and bowels simply don’t work for me. No matter how hard I try, my brain will not communicate to that area of my body. Believe me, I’ve tried. A few years ago I had a suprapubic catheter surgically inserted to help with my bladder issues. It’s a catheter that is inserted in my belly and attaches to a urine bag. So basically, my bladder is an external bag that I have to periodically empty in the bathroom throughout the day.
That is one of the best things I have ever done in my MS journey. It’s not maintenance free and comes with it’s own set of challenges, but at least I don’t have the unexpected accidents like I did in times past. The only time I have bladder leakage now is when I have a kink in my catheter or have forgotten to empty the bag in time. Even with an external bag, that can happen.
I used to tell people that my bladder and the front door conspired against me on a daily basis. Every times I would make it home after I had been out, as soon as I got to the front door to unlock it, my bladder would no longer hold things in. I can’t even count how many times I had to take a shower and wash a load of laundry after I got home.
Now, my bathroom accidents mainly happen due to my bowels and me not getting to the toilet in time. The problem for me is that since those muscles are not working, I can’t flex or constrict them to help hold anything in. I get at most 30 seconds to make it to the bathroom, pull my pants down and sit on the toilet, and many times I don’t quite make it.
One thing is for sure, my abs always get a workout when I finally make it on the toilet since those are the only muscles I can still control. I should have washboard abs by now.
Is that TMI? It may be for some people, but I think open and honest conversation is always best. It helps both those with MS and those caring for someone with MS.
When I am out of the house, bathroom location is the first thing I think about. I want to know where the closest ones are and if they are wheelchair accessible. And just in case I don’t quite make it, I also keep a change of clothes with me for those unexpected moments.
Hey, s*** happens and most of the time I have no control over it.