Here at Lily Bird, we feature personal stories written by smarty pants women from our community. That’s because telling your bladder who’s boss is better as a team sport. These women get you. They’re in your corner. And they’re here to remind you that your body isn’t broken. Hey, bodies age, bladders leak, and movie sequels bomb. Right? This week Lindsay’s got us giggling (and crossing our legs) with a few short stories of bladder betrayal.
Last February, I caught a cold, which turned into a cough. This cough was relentless – I had it for weeks and it Would. Not. Quit. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I peed myself nearly every time I coughed – morning, noon and night. My body didn’t care if I was at the office, on an airplane with my supervisor for a business trip, or trying to have some “adult” time with my partner. If I was coughing, chance were, I was also peeing.
I never expected to be living with a leaky bladder in my thirties. But there I was, peeing myself every time I coughed. And every time I ran, jumped, sneezed or laughed hard, for that matter.
I live with stress incontinence, which the Mayo Clinic defines as urine that leaks when you “exert pressure on your bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising, or lifting something heavy.”
Never mind peeing every time I lift something heavy. Sometimes living with a leaky bladder just feels heavy. And sometimes, the only thing left to do is to laugh. As someone who has been living with stress incontinence for years, I have learned to handle my leaks with a sense of humor. I’ve also learned to talk more openly about what I live with as a means of letting other women know they’re not alone. Sometimes at parties, I even share my bladder leak stories to get a laugh out of folks. Finding humor in these situations (in retrospect, of course) is the best coping mechanism I’ve found. And inevitably, another woman or friend will chime in – or approach me later – to share her own story.
A couple of these women were brave enough to share their experiences with us.
I was the maid-of-honor at my sister’s wedding, which meant a lot of work leading up to the big event/wedding day. Everything leading up to the event went off without a hitch and the day itself was as beautiful and magical as it could have been (considering it was raining!). We had to move the wedding party to the indoor section of the venue thanks to the weather. As I was cutting a rug on the dance floor, I felt the unmistakable sensation that I’d grown accustomed to but somehow wasn’t prepared for on this day – I was leaking. A lot.
As my urine ran down my legs, I was instantly incensed that we’d moved the dance party indoors. After all, if we’d stayed out in the rain, I could have just blamed the wetness on the rain! Fortunately for me, no one seemed to notice. I was able to run to the bathroom to clean myself up. My sister and I still laugh about the day I was so excited to see her get married, I peed myself.
Our family dog Madi used to pee every time we’d come home from work or an outing. She’d greet us at the door, tail wagging, urine dripping. My kids and I all joked that she was a “granny” dog, even as a pup. She couldn’t seem to control her bladder when she got excited.
So one day as I was jumping on the couch with my kids (don’t ask!), I felt myself leaking. I told my kids what was happening, as I’d quickly stopped jumping and excused myself to the bathroom. “Oh, I was having so much fun I pulled a “Madi,” I quipped. My kids thought this was hilarious, so now my husband and I refer to my leaks as a “Madi”. Now, we use that as both an inside joke and an indicator to him that I need to excuse myself when we’re out & about. “I’ve pulled a Madi, we’ve gotta go.”
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We know that living with a leaky bladder isn’t fun and games, and it usually isn’t funny. But sometimes, humor can add a little levity to an otherwise difficult thing to live with. After all, don’t they say laughter is the best medicine?
By Lindsay C.
Lindsay C. is a working mom living in South Florida. A writer by day and a reader by night, she spends her spare time overthinking the meaning of life, tending to her indoor plants, cycling, and avoiding her children’s trampoline.
Want to share your own story about leaky laughs or dribble dilemmas? Give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.