Incontinence - How it's impacted on my life.
I gave birth in September 2015 and had an 'assisted' birth as they like to call it. Ie, my body was dragged down a medical bed by forceps in an attempt to get my daughter out. I had an episiotomy and suffered a third degree subsequent tear meaning I needed to get stitched up in theatre.
For a few days I had urine retention, ie, I couldn't pee at all, and then when I could, it just ran from me without warning. I was sent home from hospital a week after the birth with little information on what to expect, only that it would get better.
I got used to wearing sanitary towels as back up so I could at least leave the house. If I needed to sneeze or cough, I stopped walking in the hope that being stationary would give me a chance of not wetting myself as much. Some occasions were more successful than others.
Every time I leaked I was reminded of the traumatic birth that I had endured, and reminded that my body was broken, unfixed and for a very long time, I thought, unfixable.
The incontinence also robbed me of my passion, running. I had started running in 2010 and loved it immediately. ok, after week 5 of c25k - the runners out there will know what I mean! It taught me that I was so much capable than I thought of doing something I thought wasn't possible! I loved the battle between my legs and brain during long runs, the running community comradery on race day, and most of all I loved the positive it had on my mental health.
All this was taken away from me with the realisation that I could no longer run after the birth trauma. It had nothing to do with my brain or my legs, but my pelvic floor muscles. I had a lot of physio, a lot. 43 sessions. And yet I was still leaking. Why didn't I just run and wear incontinence support you may be asking? Well, I tried, many many times. Each time I flooded, I was reminded of the birth trauma, that I was broken. I just couldn't do it.
I live in France, the holy grail of post natal care so it seems as I am constantly bombarded with 'French girls don't leak'. Well, I do. I had 43 sessions of physio with 2 different physios. I was referred to 2 different urologists who told me that I was a 'great candidate' for sling surgery. I attended physio for ab-rehab yet not once did the physio touch my tummy to see if I had DR or anything else.
But I was persistent. I sought help from twitter and facebook. I started to educate myself and didn't give up. I saw yet another physio, this time in the UK.
I leaked for 2 years and 8 months in total.
The day I saw the physio, she listened to my plight. She examined me internally and externally, and touched my tummy muscles! Horray! She found areas to work on, which I did, and I can say with a full heart, that since that day in early May 2018, I haven't leaked once.
I cannot believe that just one session with the right physio has solved my problems. I find it extremely difficult to say that I am fixed, as I have leaked for so long.
I try not to get angry about the possibility that I could have been leak-free a long time ago if I'd just got the right care, I'm still working on this feeling, as I AM angry. But I am also incredibly proud of
myself. I never gave up, and I didn't accept the leaking. I could have already had mesh surgery for this, when in fact, all it needed was personalised care.
Women seem to think that leaking is normal after childbirth. I'm pleased that I wasn't one of them and kept looking for solutions. I am one of the lucky ones, as for some women, positive leak-free endings do not happen. But for the vast majority, they can be leak-free with the right help. If you're not happy with the help you are getting, look elsewhere. Be persistent.
As for my running? I will be back. I know that now with a happy heart. With a lot more knowledge and support from the right people in my kit bag.
If you are in the Cardiff area and are looking for a women's health physio, I fully recommend Gillian McCabe Physiotherapy www.gillianmccabe.co.uk