A friend of mine used this word once in describing strange physical symptoms she was experiencing. Due to her tendency to being the definitive hypochondriac, I really didn't think much about that particular word or its meaning and just nodded in requisite agreement.
When the word popped up again during D-Day (Diagnosis Day) my mind raced to recall the first time I had ever heard it. I immediately cringed in sympathy for anyone who experienced such a degrading, animalistic situation.
And then I realized that I HAD experienced incontinence; but I had associated it with a probably urinary tract infection for which I was prone.
Pre-diagnosis, I can remember sitting in traffic and being mortified to feel my bladder totally empty onto the plush, black upholstery of my snazzy l'il sports car. It was a warm day. I had driven several miles aware of a need to relieve myself, but confident that I could and I would make it to the next fast food rest room right up the road. That's when the traffic lights failed me and progress toward those Golden Arches stopped. Thank goodness I was alone, with no one to witness my lack of bladder control.
I hated to soil my car seat but at least this hadn't happened in someone else's vehicle! I could clean this up with no one the wiser.
Why had this happened? What was wrong with my body that I couldn't "hold my water"?
I needed to get home and clean myself up. Sitting in my own puddle of urine was NOT a pleasant experience. And it totally ruined my buzz of a fun whip around town in my open air sportster.
Afterward I remember laughing at myself as if I had committed a secret blunder to lock away in my private memory vault.
But then it happened again...and again...
Once at a the deli...once in the hallway at school...no, twice...no, three times...once on my back porch as I fumbled for the house key...again in my kitchen when I miscalculated the number of steps it would take to reach the bathroom...a couple of times in bed in the middle of the night...
You get the picture.
What a horrid fuel for an already accelerated anxiety level. I never knew when it would happen and I avoided liquid consumption to the point of near dehydration. The muscles that controlled the physical act of urination no longer obeyed my command.
My gynecologist suggested practicing contraction exercises. My mother told me to wear Depends. My neurologist told me I would just have to live with it. My urologist prescribed medication but I could never remember to take it and really wasn't excited about consuming another chemical.
I admit that I really didn't do much (any) research on my situation after diagnosis. It was what it was; and it remains thus.
Since my diagnosis, my life has taken a new direction. I still teach full-time; I am a mother and wife; I enjoy my hobbies; I attend church when I am not camping (I'm relatively sure God understands). But I do NOT go out of my way looking for additional responsibilities. I enjoy my home, my books, my career, and my family.
And I head for the nearest bathroom at the first sensation, no matter how small.
Read more about living with multiple sclerosis in my YA novel Abby. Find it at Amazon.com or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.