Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival~ Diaper, Pads and Back Again

Today, I'm talking about urinary incontinence and how life moves in a circular pattern. As a young child. you are toilet trained and you get out of diapers. When puberty hits, for a woman, you transition into pads for menstrual cycles.

All the wear and tear of child bearing years, just when you think you are getting ready to lose the pads forever, you sometimes develop leaks. So you add an occasional urinary pads, because when you laugh to hard or sneeze you lose bladder control.

For me, it was five tumors in my lower abdomen which caused the problem. Once they were removed with all my rusted old pipes of reproduction, part of my bladder, and my colon along with them. A mesh sling was implanted to prevent the bladder leaks. I was a happy camper. The tumors were thought to be the size of walnuts, before surgery, were actually the size of my surgeon's fist... all five of them. I survived. Extremely thankful it wasn't worse. No more bladder worries, I was done.

A funny things happens when you think you are done. You're not. I suffered a stroke and had to relearn a bathroom schedule like I did while my own children were potty training. I was back in diapers to prevent accidents on a much larger bottom than when I was a child. Restricting liquids for a period of time before bed and watching a clock. Every two hours I journey to the commode whether I feel the need or not. That's just to get out of diapers.

That tingling sensation I used to get as markers that I had to go was gone. I do feel a heavy weighted pressure in my lower abdomen when I shift positions as an indicator. But gone are the sensations that distinguish between a bowel movement and a full bladder.

So unless I fidget in my chair, think shifting your weight from one butt cheek to another, I cannot tell when nature calls until it is almost too late. I'd gotten so good at it that I transitioned to menstrual pads again versus the thick urinary pads within a week of being home from the hospital.

 Within a two month honeymoon of having my stroke, my heart started acting up again. I honestly loved that honeymoon period. For all extents and purposes, my heart was behaving like a normal, healthy heart. It was something I hadn't experienced for over half a decade. I was on no arrhythmia medicines and no diuretics.

I call it a honeymoon because it was joyful and short-lived. I figure it was God's Grace because He knows how much I can handle at one time. Dealing with chronic congestive hearty failure because your ticker isn't working right and a stroke was more than I could handle thus a honeymoon.

The first indicator that something was wrong was I stopped losing weight. The second was my paralyzed side started swelling. I'm not talking about a little bit of swelling. I'm talking about gross swelling. Fingers the size of hot dogs and toes like Vienna sausages. Hands and wrists the size of the incredible Hulk. I had to have my AFO widened and put a 9 1/2 shoe on a normal size 6 foot. Even the Velcro on my splints groaned in protest.

So far I've gone from diapers, potty training, pads to diapers, potty training to pads again. Now compounding or hampering my successful feeling is a diuretic. My cardiologist's choice was heavy doses of Lasix for the first two weeks then a daily maintenance dose. I dropped thirteen pounds in three days. That's how much fluid I was retaining in my body. Almost 90% of it in the paralyzed side.

What does Lasix do to a bathroom schedule? It shoots it full of holes! I was getting up every twenty minutes and going to the bathroom during the first four hours during the heavy dosing. I almost wanted to be back in diapers for all the underwear I flooded. But vanity wouldn't allow that. I just kept a stash of granny panties in the bathroom cabinet.

Now the dose has been backed down to a maintenance dose so it isn't that bad...only one hour like the poor kitty to the right. Twenty steps to the bathroom, a couple of minutes to snatch my pants and panties down one-handed, and I'm set.

In spite of all my efforts, I still pee my pants or dribble. It's a no win scenario. So what do I have to look forward to in the future as I continue aging...just more of the same. Life runs in full circles like driving donuts in a parking lot with your automobile. I doesn't stop until you run out of gas.


  1. Jo, I'm so sorry to hear about all your troubles. You must be a very strong person to keep going and deal with it all. My stepson is incontinent but at least we know what we are getting and things have always been this way. A shame, though, that he outgrew his commode chair and we have still not been provided with a new one, so he's lost the toileting routine he once had.

    I was touched by the comment you left on my recent post about my anthology. I would love it if you could still manage to submit a piece, however this would need to be done within the next week. Email me: mcwilfo(at)gmail(dot)com and let me know what you think. :)

    1. Nick,I sent you an email. If I am a strong person it is because God has put me through the tests of fire and brought me out the other side burned and wiser but not consumed.

  2. Jo,
    Bless you...again! We're dealing with this with my MIL. Thank goodness, I've managed to avoid pads since so far. Cross your fingers. ; )

    1. Crossing five fingers and five toes to make ten for you Zan Marie.

  3. I refuse to wear pads...I am stubborn and I guess I don't mind doing all that laundry. But my problem is a brain thing. I think. You see, I have no urge to go until:
    a) I arrive at a store
    b) I arrive home from the store
    c) I run warm water on my hands
    d) I am about to fall asleep

    The water thing is a condition that my mother provided me with. You see, I wet the bed when I was much younger and she would wake me up in the middle of the night and sit me on the toilet and run water over my hand. Thanks ma!
    But Jo...I do not know how you do it. You have survived so much. You are a braver man than I Gunga Din.

    1. Debra,
      LOL having a stroke will change your mind or peeing yourself in public.
      a)go before you leave
      b)head straight to the bathroom before you shop (it's something to do with your body cold air outside-warm inside and vice versa)
      c)warm water is a trick most mothers use
      d) go before you lay down

  4. Thanks, Jo, for your frank and enlightening post! You've cleared up many questions regarding my husband's post-stroke incontinence issues. Yes, he's been traveling in circles too. And I like that phrase "traveling in circles" which is so much better than "backsliding".

    Take care,

    Diane @ The Pink House on the Corner


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