Before reading this post I’ll point out that the ‘ow’ at the end of lifeofriley stands for ‘on whatever’. That means that my posts don’t follow any theme. It means I’m free to write, right here in this blog, about whatever I fancy writing about. This post is written (albeit written with trepidation) predominantly for middle aged women only. Of course, younger women and men are welcome to read it to, if only to give them an insight into a very embarrassing ‘wee problem’ some of us middle aged women experience.
I don’t mean wee as in little, I mean wee, as in pee. It’s one of those unmentionable problems that some women experience, and I’m one of them. There, I’ve admitted it to the world. Of course I’ve admitted it to some people before. Paul is well aware of the urgency I feel when I often scan the horizon for the nearest public conveniences. He’s all to aware of my sometimes unsuccessful rush to get there, and the embarrassment I feel when I get there and find every door with an engaged sign showing red, and realise I’m too late. This isn’t because I’ve left it to late to start heading towards the loo, it’s because the loo is further away than it takes for my over active bladder to start reacting to the message my brain has received telling me it’s time to think about going. Yes, I have a bladder that throws tantrums like a two year old, “ I wanna go, and I wanna go NOW!”
Lots of things seemingly contribute to the problem of urgency. Giving birth, particularly to big babies or difficult deliveries, hormonal changes, excess weight, the foods we eat, and the fluids we drink. My first baby came out weighing 8lb 7oz after a 45 hour labour, I’m post menopausal, I’m 20kgs overweight, and I’ve been eating and drinking things that trigger an over active bladder.
I’ve been to the appropriate physio’s and learnt to do my kegal exercises correctly, and I regularly do them. I’ve been to GP’s and been prescribed medication which works for a short time. I’ve even had Botox in the bladder that worked wonders, until it wore off. That was expected, and repeat doses are possible, but every Botox shot, administered under general anaesthetic, comes with the risk that it’ll work too well. If that happens it becomes a real problem. This happened to friend of mine so I’ve been reluctant to go for a second round.
I seem to remember that each of relevant specialists have briefly mention things such as being over-weight, tea, coffee and alcohol. I don’t recall any of them making any big deal about though. Recently I had two glasses of sparkling mineral water before going for a walk. I went to the loo before leaving and less than 20 minutes later arrived at the beach front desperate for the loo again. Phew – made it with barely a second to spare. Thank goodness the loos weren’t all occupied. We walked around the rocks on the beach for a further 20 minutes, then I had to go again. This time the loos were all occupied, and I had an embarrassing walk home, hoping I didn’t run into anyone I knew.
I came back to the caravan feeling old, frustrated and angry. I looked to Dr Google. All of the solutions I’ve already tried were mentioned, along with the mention of excess weight, food and drink. I took time to read the food and drink recommendations thoroughly, and in anger and frustration vowed I was going to abstain from from the recommended culprits. Of course,I didn’t expect it to be of any help, because if it was as simple as that, wouldn’t all the specialists have made more of it! Wouldn’t they have had me keep a food and drink diary before prescribing treatments! To be fair, they did get me to record quantities of fluid in, and quantities of fluid out. The types of fluids were never emphasised.
Alcohol, coffee, tea, fizzy drink including sparkling mineral water and soda water, orange juice, pineapple juice, lemons, and acidic foods such as tomatoes, oranges and pineapple are all stimulating to an overactive bladder. Plain water is best, and seemingly it’s important to sip drinks slowly. Green tea, and some herbal teas are ok in moderation, again sipped slowly.
What had I got to lose by giving it a go. Of course, the excess weight can’t be tackled overnight, and given that, that’s been a lifelong losing battle for me anyway, perhaps I’ll never know if that will provide a solution. But the food and drink, well perhaps that’d be worth a try.
One week ago today I gave up coffee, and allow myself two cups of tea at most a day. One is usually normal black tea, and one is herbal. I allow myself one or two alcoholic drinks a week. No soda water and no sparkling mineral water, just plain tap water chilled or on ice, and all drinks sipped slowly, I’m having about 1 1/2 litres of water a day, on top of the two hot drinks, and I’ve had two mango smoothies through the week. I’m not eating oranges, and I’ve cut right back on tomatoes. The difference the first day made was incredibly encouraging. The water was initially an uninteresting drink, but it only took two days and it actually developed a fresh taste and became very appealing.
This is no miracle cure I’m sure, but quite honestly the results have been astounding, and almost as effective as my bladder’s initial response to Botox. The Botox wore off, perhaps this holistic approach won’t. I’m feeling more hydrated than I remember ever feeling, and I’m sleeping through the night with no more than one visit to the loo, but most nights not even once having to get up for a call of nature. The results are so good that I don’t think I’ll have any trouble sticking with it. I hope it works long term. Time will tell.