PMSL – Luce Brett – book review
I was delighted when this book dropped through my letterbox. My amazing pelvicroar co-founder, Elaine Miller, has been involved with Luce, and this book, for a while and pelvicroar were delighted to be involved in it’s digital book launch. I wanted to write a review, yet I knew from Elaine’s preface and Luce’s first chapter that anything written by me could not possibly match up to the amazing way that they both write. I have therefore chosen to link together my favourite quotations from the book, which speak volumes on their own and need no enhancement other than context.
This book is important because it is searingly honest and tells a tale from the moment that Luce’s continence issues started; “I’m scared that the narrative of me might forever be broken.”
It is frank, funny, real, painful and triggering for many. The mere fact that it triggers emotions for readers shows, in my opinion, that there are many birth and continence traumas that have never been resolved. Luce does not shy away from the emotions that she has experienced and allows others to identify in a safe way; “Incontinence is a perfect storm. It is upsetting, abnormal, hilarious, silly, messy, stinky, undertreated, treatable, dirty, strange and many other things.”
We need to be loud and open about incontinence; “In a society that fears the signs of old age as much as old age itself, and is judgemental and aggressive in the face of weakness and fallibility, incontinence remains an unmentionable.” I have recently begun working in a role that encompasses managing continence issues in 17 care homes and have been horrified at the normality that is associated with incontinence and containment pad use in this environment. We must challenge it more!
Luce challenges all of us to be the voices for those who can’t yet find their voice; “Incontinence is so stigmatised, sufferers are often voiceless, marginalised or ignored.” She describes in painstaking detail why people with continence issues struggle with this and why only 25% of women ever seek help, and why it takes an average of 7 years to do so!
· “We never grow out of our primal fear of humiliation”
· “It doesn’t matter that my broken body shouldn’t be shameful, or that I haven’t committed a crime, incontinence has the same effect. You can’t talk about it if you are polite; it’s too dirty, too undignified”
· “I’m still not sure how to talk about my privates”
· “I try to be grown-up but there is a gnawing sense of something, probably disgust, or despair, that in trying to fix my continence I have wound up in a land of leaked-on pants and clothes”
This absolute horror of incontinence is increased by the final taboo – bowel leakage. Luce describes her journey into this symptom that breaks the back of the bravest of patients:
· “Poo incontinence is terrifying – I think I’m broken now”
· “Poo is, primally, connected with our sensation and experience of disgust”
As a health care professional in the field of pelvic health, I was really warmed by the way that Luce describes her relationship with her own health care professionals. It is fantastic to have it documented, in black and white, that we have a truly privileged role to play in turning someone’s life around.
· “The ease with which people talk about leaking down in the clinic creates an echo chamber of empowerment”
· “…the exquisite horror, hilarity, absurdity and grimness of tests focused on your privates..”
· “(Badder) retraining is a brilliant mixture of humiliation and hope”
The final message is one of hope, as Luce describes the treatments that are available and how to access them. She encourages us all to fight against the world’s view of incontinence, “I have accepted every useless message about incontinence fed to me my entire life” and to move past this to encourage ourselves, and anyone we know, to stop putting up with it and get help.
· My absolute favourite quote from the book is the description “Incontinence soaks through the fabric of society.” Let’s all continue working together to stop this from happening!
My final message is very simple – buy this book and read every word. Everyone. Now..