For those of you out there that DON’T have MS and don’t KNOW someone with MS, that have been following along, you might wonder why it is that a grown woman, who looks pretty normal – in that “has her shit together kinda way” keeps talking about peeing her pants. Valid question and one that I would be HAPPY to answer, or at least answer in the way that I have come to understand it. The reason that I experience incontinence is because of the lesions in my spine. I have significantly MORE in my spine than on my brain, the ratio being about 90/10, I believe. These lesions “screw up” the messages going to my brain. The sensors that tell your body that you need to pee are located along the part of my spine where most of my lesions have decided to camp out, and so by the time my brain gets the memo, it is too late. The average person will think, “oh, I have to go to the bathroom,” and perhaps twenty minutes go by, and they now think, “wow, okay, now I really need to go.” Maybe they then have to wait another ten minutes and are now thinking, “holy crap, I have to find a bathroom.” Well, thanks to the lesions in my spine, my brain misses out on this whole conversation, and only clues in when it’s too late. I find myself peeing, at which point I think “oh SHIT, I have to pee!” Or rather “oh shit, I AM peeing!” It’s a bit awkward at times…depending on where I happen to be at that moment in time.
There are drugs and other things that can apparently help with this, but from early on I came up with a “therapy” called “Meg’s Pee Regime” and although it does have negative side effects (peeing in your pants in public) I have been quite pleased with the overall results. I go to the bathroom every hour. BOOM, there it is! Brilliant! Most of the time. It IS a great plan, but shortly after implementing this regime into my life, I learned that even the best laid plans can (and WILL) fail.
My first encounter with said trouble was on a beautiful, sunny spring day.
All three kids were out of school on spring break. Since these were the early days of my life with MS, I did have some difficulty with walking, but I still got around. It just looked like I was drunk all the time – but hey, with three little kids in tow, NO BIG DEAL! I remember that I had already begun to feel the longings of wanting to be a “normal” mom again and so I decided to take the kids to the zoo. I grabbed my three kids, plus an three (three wasn’t enough to prove my SUPER-MOM status) and headed off to Woodland Park Zoo for the day. I remember thinking, hey they have bathrooms all over the place, no problem! What I didn’t anticipate was that every other person in the greater Seattle area had decided to go to the zoo that day as well, and so the line to get in was outrageous! Plus PACKED with people we knew (Seattle really IS a small city.) We had been waiting in line for over an hour (remember, this was “Meg’s Pee Regime” time limit!) and still had quite a ways to go to get to the entrance. I begin to panic. Must get to bathroom, began repeating itself in my head. BUT I certainly didn’t want to loose our place in line, nor did I want to loose six kids; the oldest were eight at the time and not quite ready to take on the evils of the world on their own. I was nearing critical pee time, and so, having struck up a conversation with a lovely elderly couple, there for the day day with their grandchildren, behind us in line, I quickly asked if they would mind keeping an eye on my six minions, while I popped off to the bathroom. They graciously accepted this proposal and I high-tailed it off to do my thing.
Upon my return, Sam (again eight at the time) had “great news” that he wanted to share with me AND everyone else within a 100 yard radius. As I was walking back from the restroom, he eagerly screamed (and yes, you CAN scream with eagerness, he did it.) “Mom, did you know that they make diapers for adults? This lady told me. I told her that you pee your pants all the time and she said that she sometimes does too, so she wears a diaper!” BIG PAUSE for a deep breathe, “And, she says you can buy them at the store called Walgreens! We need to go and get you some!” Boy, who is the “COOL MOM” now, huh?
I explained to Sam that I did indeed know about these “adult diapers” but that I thought that at least for the time being I would pass on the chance to wear one (thinking to my self, me and my “skinny-ass jeans” are certainly not going to go around town with saggy baggy diaper butt, thank you very much!) I’d much rather try and stick to the “Meg Pee Regime” and risk having an accident than resort to wearing Depends (call me vain.)
This was to be the first of many “embarrassing moments,” but the fact that I was laughing and telling the story the next day meant that it couldn’t have been THAT embarrassing, right?