Joshua B., 40

Choose Kindness

By Joshua B., 40

Around ten years ago I was involved in a workplace accident. That accident caused me to contract a parasite, which caused significant nerve damage, impacting my body in many ways. The nerve damage has continued to worsen over time, taking a real toll on my body - and bladder. At first, I tried to deal with the urges on my own, but the need to urinate got increasingly frequent at the same time as my ability to control my bladder weakened. Whenever I drank water or other beverages, or even if I got cold, I would immediately end up having to go - frequently, and with high urgency.

Eventually, running to the bathroom every 5 minutes became no way of living. Even though I didn’t want to need diapers, I knew that it was inevitable, so I began looking for adult incontinence products. Since then, I have continued to need some kind of incontinence protection at all times. No matter what, needing the assistance of incontinence supplies just to live a normal life makes you feel like an outcast. Truthfully, it makes dating tough. My last girlfriend SAID she was fine with my incontinence, but she didn’t want to face it - always out of sight out of mind. This gave me strong feelings of guilt because I felt like I had to hide it, an inseparable part of who I am, just to keep her happy and continue the relationship.

It gets depressing to deal with incontinence. Some days you wake up from a great sleep, just to find yourself wet and needing a change. It can be a vicious cycle, because the constant management of bodily functions that many people take for granted just deepens the depression. It is one battle to just accept yourself and your condition, but dealing with other people is one of the worst parts of having continence problems. When you need incontinence supplies, people see you as a person who wears diapers, not as a person.

Of course, there is direct bullying, where unkind people go out of their way to knowingly hurt people who wear incontinence products. But something many people don’t realize it that even indirect comments, such as joking about continence or saying that diapers make them uncomfortable, can be incredibly hurtful. You can try so hard to accept yourself, but when everyone else tears you down, how could it not bring you down? People act like you should just go get cured, like it’s your fault to have a medical condition. The truth is, most continent people have no idea what treatment options even exist, much less how daunting they can be. There is no “cure” for incontinence, especially with a degenerative nerve condition like mine. There are medicines and surgeries available for some causes of incontinence, but many of them are unreliable, temporary, and can cause serious side-effects and other lasting issues.

I guess people think that diapers are only for babies, or the elderly and feeble. But the truth is, incontinence can affect anyone, and I wish people were more careful, and could understand that it is never right to make fun of or belittle someone for a medical condition they can’t control.