Over the years I’ve become adept at managing my problem, and if you met me, you wouldn’t notice. I’ve got over my initial concerns about wearing products and devices when out in public but I never truly relax because at the back of my mind there’s always the fear, real or not, that someone will notice something – a wet patch, an odour, or a puddle on the floor.
Recently I started to experience difficulty controlling my bowels which has led to occasional episodes of faecal incontinence. Even though I’ve been coping with urinary incontinence for several years this lack of bowel control has been particularly hard to deal with. I manage it by careful monitoring of symptoms to help me know if it is ok to go out. Should the worst happen I try to find a toilet and change as quickly as possible because the tell-tale smell of faeces is very hard to hide and the damage to skin can be significant. I keep a ‘clean up kit’ and change of clothes always to hand and I use pads and other devices such as anal plugs.
Embarrassing physical health problems can have a huge impact on your mental health and I have always struggled with severe anxiety and panic attacks. The effect on self-esteem of dealing with faecal incontinence should not be underestimated and on many occasions the highly unpleasant consequences of having been doubly incontinent have left me feeling utterly wretched.
Living with incontinence is not easy and I often feel extremely low but I try not to let it stop me from doing the things I really want to, particularly in terms of family life and seeing friends.