Working together to tackle incontinence

One warm and beautiful summer's day in 1997, Janet* had an accident that would change her and her husband's lives forever. It was their 25th wedding anniversary and she and her husband had taken a cycling holiday in Italy to celebrate. Janet was coasting down a steep hill when she lost control of her bike. She was thrown forward on her bike and landed in such a way that she suffered what would be permanent damage to her urethra and serious injuries to her bladder.

Today, five years after her accident and many surgeries later, Janet remains incontinent. She says she has good days and good nights, and bad days and bad nights. But she doesn't allow her incontinence to get her down or prevent her from taking yoga classes, or working as a substitute teacher. She wears absorbent products for protection throughout the day and night, and makes sure to locate restrooms when she is out so she is prepared. Janet's doctor also taught her to do Kegel exercises to help her strengthen her pelvic floor muscles.

Through it all her husband has stood by her side with unwavering support. He's learned everything he can about incontinence, and Janet says he's shown nothing but consideration. They decided to join a support group together, which they both attend regularly and sometimes even host meetings. Janet knows that her husband has provided an example to other couples in the group. As a result of his going to meetings, other spouses have joined. Her husband is often asked about how he helps his wife, and for any tips he has for helping to manage things like travel days and social functions.

Janet feels that her marriage has grown stronger as a result of the accident and her husband's loving understanding and support. She says it's their situation, not just hers, and they manage it one day at a time.

*Janet's story is based on people with similar experiences.

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