Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Stroke Survival: Incontinence Revisited

I'm not sure what is going on with my bladder, but it ain't good. In the past month, I have had more "accidents" than dry days. I think I may have a bladder infection. This is usually a first sign for me...no bladder control. Later, the pain urination, and pus or blood starts. It's been so bad that adult diapers have been a relief to wear.

Anyone that wears these know that it must be the most uncomfortable undergarment ever made. It doesn't matter which brand you choose, it poorly fits and the elastic plastic outside rubs the skin raw. But still it's better than the alternative of urine soaked clothing. The reason I switched from my pads was because of flooding. It's not a question of little spurts, but almost emptying my bladder with no sphincter control... none, zip, bupkiss. I don't even have time to stand up and head to the bathroom. Just the act of gravity turns the faucet on. Speaking of faucets, I now have to go before I run any tap. It doesn't matter if I just made the trek to the commode five minutes before, I will have to go again. I know my diuretic plays a part in this also. My warning mechanism of a full bladder ceases to function with bladder and kidney infections.

This is quite embarrassing in public situations like the grocery store as you can imagine. I'll go before leaving home, arrive at the market, and immediately have to go again. It's only five minutes to the store! And, that's with purposely waiting until six hours has past since taking my Lasix. Going before then is an accident waiting for the chance to happen. Since my bladder infections start this way since my strokes, my old PCP wrote a standing order for sulfur based antibiotic to combat the issue. I no longer have that luxury since I've moved. I have to wait until next week to see my new PCP before I can get a prescription. That's after I drive 35 minutes to get to his office. Yes, I'll be making several pit stops along the way. These pills are HUGE! As if I don't have enough issues with swallowing. But, ya gotta do what ya have to do.

This week I used the last of the disposable diapers leftover from the case for my husband. Hospice ordered the wrong size and then ordered the right size so I actually had one and a half cases left upon his death. I've treated these as gold and used them sparingly for almost a year and a half.

At this point, I'm thinking sustainable resources (not to mention cost). A 20 pack of disposable pads will cost $6-8 a package and some months I can go through two of them. That's $12 a month times 4 1/2 years! You do the math because I don't want to add up how much money I've spent. Heavy flow menstrual pads are cheaper than the urinary incontinence pads. I priced washable pads and diapers for adults. Wowzer! I could buy a really nice vacation with the cost of a week's worth.

 After four and a half years of using disposable pads and diapers, I'm switching. This winter, I'll be sewing washable urinary incontinence pads. You heard me right, and yes, I'll video it and cross post it here. Here's my design process. Problem solving 101.

I haven't found a pattern I like yet. We are talking a thinner liquid that moves faster than a menstrual flow so it would have to be thicker and more absorbent. Then I had a brilliant idea. Use one of the pads which work the best for me. I'll have to add a little bit of fabric for seam allowances and making the wings long enough to overlap each other, but I can do that.

I've tried many brands over the years while I've combated this issue. When I have a choice, my favorite is the always maxi pads. The size and shape are comfortable. For me, the length covers both my orifices. While the absorbancy is a bit iffy, I can't fault the design. I am using it for a purpose it wasn't designed for. I love the always incontinence pads. They work fantastic, but oh, the price!

A pattern found, I could focus my mind on the other issues like what it's made of. A 100% cotton is desirable. After watching a vast number of YouTube videos on constructing cloth menstrual pads, I realized that several layers of flannel or terry cloth was not going to handle that much liquid. The pad would need twenty to forty layers and be a bulky mess. What could be a thin, absorbent, and natural material? I thought of wool, but quickly discarded it. Wool, while absorbent also gets very heavy when wet. I can see me now. "Oops, I had an accident." "Oops, my panties are now around my ankles!" No thank you. I went back to cotton. I idea of stitching in thousands of cotton balls entered my mind. I'm Abby Normal, not insane! Rolled cotton as in bandages was my next thought. After calculating how many rolls I would need and the price, I nixed that idea. What kind of padding would be thick enough? Then I remembered my grandma always swearing by cotton quilt batting. I could make several dozen pads out of a twin size quilt pad. They could be stitched together (quilted) and provide channels for urine to follow. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

Waterproofing and fastening them in place. I had to wear it under my clothes and didn't want telltale signs soaking through. I still want retain some shreds of dignity. Plus, do you realize how uncomfortable wet breeches are? I still have to walk from where I am to where I can change the pad. It also had to be thin enough to carry a spare in my pocket. I started looking at homemade cloth diapers. Now a days they are streamlined. Gone are the flat diapers I once put on my children. I know because I searched for them when I was looking for the padding of my pads. Washable diapers have become shaped and sized just like disposables. I started searching for the nifty plastic fasteners and the fabric they used for protecting infant clothing. I found it all a my local JoAnn's Fabrics. The waterproof material is called PUL (PolyUrethane Laminate) While not a natural product nor cheap ($6.49 a yard), it was the answer I was looking for. It being 64" wide and being able to get a dozen pads out of a quarter yard of fabric made this fabric a win-win in my book. I opted for white from the slew of colors and patterns. Remember, I wear white, cotton granny panties too.


Now, I have a plan. I did buy some pretty printed, cotton flannel to serve as the cover fabric next to my skin. Nothing to bold or bright because they are going to hold my accidents. Nice little rosebuds on a white background seemed to strike my fancy. Hey, I'm still a girl. They don't have to be totally utilitarian. They may not be pretty for long, but I've found a recipe for an all natural protein stain remover also on YouTube that might have them looking pretty for a while.

So why am I waiting until winter to do all of these? The one thing that I can't control is my free time. During the winter months, the garden is a 8x16 greenhouse. A huge difference that four garden beds. The days are shorter and colder so I won't be outside as much. I'll still have to tend to the rabbits, chickens, dogs, and cats, but there won't be a garden to tend, or produce to dehydrate, can, or freeze. 

The days being shorter means building project will cease at sundown. Yes, there will be the added activities of spinning and combing angora and other fibers, and knitting galore. We don't do this in the summer because most times we are too bone tired, and it's too hot. My battery operated sewing machine will be put to good use. A treadle machine is what I wanted to get, but time and space constraints won out. Oh, and the cost for everything the material, quilt batting, those nifty snaps and their special pliers, thread, and even my sewing machine cost thrown in was under $50 or equivalent to three months of disposable pads. Yes, I'll have to launder them, but I have to wash clothes anyhow. Why I didn't do this before? Just call it a brain fart.


Nothing is impossible.



4 comments:

Zan Marie said...

Oh, Jo! You are so creative and patient. I know you'll get it figured out and fabulous.
{{{{hugs}}}}

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jo - oh gosh ... I do hope you can get something to ease the problem, but I do admire your tenacity to help yourself with everything ... good luck - and take care ... all the best - Hilary

Rebecca Dutton said...

Thanks for sharing this information. I've had enough bladder challenges since my stroke to know that this kind of pro-active problem solving is what helps us hold onto a life worth living.

Barb Polan said...

Brilliant - individual ideas AND all together. I wear Depends whenI know I can't predictably get to a bathroom (while traveling by car and going to events more than an hour long w/out access to bathroom. I HATE wearing them, but do it for my husband, who is appalled by my lack of control, even though he's witnessed it only once.

Good luck completing your project.