My thoughts are in the pan today, prompted by an excellent article by Ellie B in Modern Day MS. In it, she addresses bathroom issues that many of us with MS encounter such as, but not restricted to, bladder problems.
Many of us know that MS comes with a whole slew of bathroom issues. Bladder dysfunction, which occurs in at least 80 percent of people with MS, happens when MS lesions block or delay transmission of nerve signals in areas of the central nervous system. The central nervous system is responsible for the bladder and urinary sphincters.
An overactive bladder that is unable to hold the normal amount of urine, or a bladder that does not empty properly can cause symptoms that include unfun things.
Such unpleasantness includes:
- A frequent and urgent need to go, right then and there. Yeah, been there, done that. In fact, still do that.
- A slow start after all of that urgency. It is extremely frustrating when that happens.
- Frequent peeing during the night. I could set my clock, I wake every two hours and, due to mobility issues, use a urine bottle I keep by the bed.
- The inability to fully empty that bladder. If only I could, it’s aggravating to have to go again so soon.
- Accidents – not making it to the bathroom in time. Oh, I know, it’s happened to me in the past. Fortunately, medication, better planning, a urine bottle in the car, and pads, have stopped it happening again.
Not just bladders but bowels too
Ellie says that bowel dysfunction is also an issue. It is, and can take the form of:
- Constipation. Tell me about it. I need to take doses of laxative three times a week.
- Diarrhea. This is one problem that I don’t have.
- Loss of control of the bowels. Not really my problem but urgency can be an issue at times.
None of it is pretty, pleasant or fun for us or the people close to us to deal with. It makes those of us with MS master location scouts. We will have the nearest bathroom and exits in eyesight within moments of our arrival. If we’re lucky, our people are master scouts as well.
There are a few things non MSers need to know about using the bathroom:
- Yes, we know we just went. We really do need to go again.
- No, we don’t think drinking less water would help. Actually, it’d make the whole situation worse. Then we’d be sick for different reasons.
- Don’t joke and tell us to wear a diaper. It’s not funny. We probably already know that. We might already be in one.
- Don’t look at us funny for using the accessible stall. With MS, we often have a wide gait and other mobility issues. We need the extra space, the higher toilets and the handrails. Yes, we know we often don’t look like we really need them. Don’t fuss at us.
Well said Ellie.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.
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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor, so cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.