I had been wearing a pad for years just in case I had a little leak on the way to the bathroom, and then I fell and broke my hip and it was like the dam broke! I couldn’t control my urine at all anymore and it just seemed to constantly dribble out of me day and night. I recovered from my hip fracture, but my bladder never recovered. I went from wearing one or two medium pads a day to 5-6 Depends a day. My clothes and furniture and bedding would get wet and my daughter threatened to move me to a nursing home if I didn’t go to the doctor about my lack of bladder control.
I was really embarrassed about my wetting problem and didn’t think there was anything to do about it. It’d been decades since I had a pelvic exam and I really didn’t want to have to take my clothes off at the doctor’s office. My daughter took me to see the doctor at Athena (now EvergreenHealth Urology & Urogynecology Care) and I found the clinic really comfortable, they had nice pillows and comfortable exam tables with adjustable height so I didn’t have to climb up and down.
The doctor first talked with me about how my urine leakage has changed my life and what I wanted to get out of the appointment. I told her I just wanted a magic wand waved over my bladder to get me a little improvement, so that I could stay in my own home and my daughter wouldn’t have to drive me to the doctor for frequent visits. My doctor told me about some easy strategies I could do on my own and offered to do an exam if I was agreeable.
My appointment time was for a full 45 minutes so I didn’t feel rushed. I was comfortable enough to let the doctor look down there and see if she could tell if I had a fixable bladder problem. My pelvic exam was very gentle and my doctor even drained my bladder for me with a small tube called a catheter. We were both surprised to find out I was retaining a lot of urine! We also were both surprised to see that I had vaginal prolapse where part of my inside support tissues had fallen and it was creating a kink in my urine flow and causing my bladder to not empty all the way. Since my bladder was always nearly full, and I wasn’t feeling it, my urine would just dribble out all the time.
The doctor explained how we could re-support my bladder using a widget called a pessary and she showed me how the pessary fits inside like a bra for my vagina. I got fitted for my pessary and found I had a urine stream again. My pessary stays in all the time and I go to see the bladder nurse at Athena to have my pessary checked every three months. A pessary looks more like a Frisbee than a magic wand, but it worked like magic for me!