Working Together to Tackle Incontinence
A strong partnership can make incontinence an easier road to travel. By managing it together, you can cut down on worries and multiply the opportunities for joy. That's how Janet and her husband Geoff view their situation.
Not long ago, on a beautiful summer's day, Janet had an accident that would forever change her life, and that of her husband's. It happened when the couple embarked on a cycling holiday in Italy in celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary. While coasting down a hill, Janet lost control of her bike and was thrown. She suffered permanent damage to her urethra and serious injuries to her bladder.
Janet underwent several surgeries and today remains incontinent. She says she has good days and bad days but tries to maintain a healthy perspective.
"I don't allow my incontinence to get me down or prevent me from doing the things I love to do," says Janet. That includes taking yoga classes and working as a substitute teacher.
Janet says she stays prepared for life's activities by wearing absorbent protection day and night, and locating restrooms whenever she is out in public places. She also practices the Kegel exercises her doctor taught her to help strengthen her pelvic floor muscles.
But she insists the most helpful strategy in tackling incontinence has been working together with husband Geoff.
"Through it all, he has stood by my side with unwavering support," confides Janet. Both Janet and Geoff say supporting each other is crucial. They offer these three team-working tips for couples and caregivers.
- Learn all you can. The more you know about incontinence, the better equipped you are to help your loved one cope. Geoff's desire to educate himself grew from his need to show Janet as much consideration as possible. While he was motivated to learn for Janet's sake, he admits he's gotten a lot out of the education. "It's probably helped me as much as it's helped Janet," he says.
- Get support together. Support groups aren't just for individuals with incontinence; they're also helpful to caregivers. Janet and Geoff both joined a support group and regularly attend meetings together.
- Host meetings together. Janet and Geoff also enjoy hosting meetings. As a result, Janet knows that Geoff has provided an example to other couples in the group. In fact, more spouses have been inspired to join the support group. Husbands feel comfortable asking Geoff about the ways he helps his wife, and often request tips on managing travel days and social functions.
Not surprisingly, Janet and Geoff say their marriage has grown stronger as a result of the accident. Janet feels her husband's loving understanding and support has been a big factor through it all.
"I know Geoff feels that this is not just my situation; it's our situation," Janet says. "That's how we manage our life... together, and one day at a time."