Urinary incontinence is a bladder control issue that results in leaking or dripping of urine during activity or stress on the body. Urinary incontinence affects more than 15 million adult women in the United States, and on average, women wait 6 years from their first symptom to the time they seek a diagnosis, according to the National Association for Incontinence.
We spoke with elementary school teacher Kim from Rochester about her experience with urinary incontinence, how it impacted her job, and obstructed her personal life—raising three children and working on her family farm.
Q) Hi Kim, thanks for joining us today.
My pleasure! I’m happy to help other women learn about dealing with bladder issues.
Q) So, what was it was like living with urinary incontinence?
It was uncomfortable, a nuisance, I was embarrassed…it was everything you can imagine it would be. I would drip and leak urine at various moments throughout my day. I couldn’t run, walk fast, or play outside during PE with the kids. I had no control of my body, and that was a struggle.
Q) What prompted you to seek help?
I avoided telling anyone about it for a long time because I was embarrassed, and I didn’t know who to talk to. But eventually it had reached a point where it was obstructing both my personal and professional life, so I decided it was time to get help.
I told a friend who works in healthcare. She recommended I see Dr. Earlando Thomas. I looked him up and was impressed with his credentials and experience, so I made an appointment.
Q) How did you feel when you learned that you had urinary incontinence?
Dr. Thomas explained what urinary incontinence is, and that it’s something that many women suffer from. When I learned there are millions of other women who had the same problem, I felt more comfortable. When he told me it’s easily treatable with minimally invasive surgery, I said, “let’s do it.”
Q) Were you concerned or worried about surgery?
No. Not with Dr. Thomas. He’s one of those doctors that when I walked out of an appointment I instantly felt assured that all the basis had been checked and there were no more questions to ask.
When I decided on surgery, I had no doubt that it was going to be the right choice to make—and I can honestly say now that it was the best decision I could have made.
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Q) What’s life like now?
Great! I don’t bat an eye to go running with the kids on the playground when I’m at work, or when I’m at home to run with the dogs or go for a walk. I don’t have to worry about packing extra clothing or whether I’m wearing extra protection. Life is good again.
Q) What have you learned about this experience?
I’ve learned that if I have any questions or concerns about my health, even if I’m embarrassed, it’s not a big deal to ask the doctor. I struggled to deal with it for years before I finally said something. The only regret I have is not speaking up sooner.
Q) Do you have any advice for other women?
Be straightforward and open with a doctor about any problems you’re having. And if one doctor says there’s nothing they can do, check with another doctor.
I didn’t think there was anything that could be done about my urinary incontinence, but in my experience, there’s always something that can be done.
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