Posted 1/16/2016 7:52 PM (GMT -7)
There's been a lot of talk lately on few different threads about getting (or not getting) dry. I recently saw a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic stuff. She gave me some new (to me) techniques that seem to be achieving results, so I thought I'd share them. Many of you are likely already familiar with these. Also, of course they won't work for everyone, as we all seem to experience this whole thing differently. If it ends up being helpful to a few people, then it's worth the effort.
A little background: I'm not quite three months post-surgery. My leakage has been steadily declining, but had settled into bouncing between 25 and 70 ml per day. I wore pads 100% of the time, including to bed. I leaked a little at night, but not much (5-10 ml at most). Along with the leakage, I had an almost constant urge to pee during the day (though not at night). I'd try to go an hour between bathroom visits, but sometimes it was 30 minutes. Even before surgery, I had been needing to go fairly often for the last few decades, so this was just a continuation and exacerbation of an old problem. In the years before surgery, I would typically go at least once an hour, assuming I had the opportunity. Normally, 10 minutes after I'd go, I'd feel the need to go again, and couldn't get the feeling to go away until I did, even though I'd usually only get a very small amount out. If I needed to I could hold it for hours, but it wasn't pleasant. Post surgery, holding often wasn't an option.
Ok, so I explained all this to the physical therapist. She recommended two things: Pad weaning, and timed urination. I'll explain each below.
Pad weaning: She wanted me to go without a pad as often and as long as I could, even at the risk of leaking a little into my pants now and then. The idea is that I'm more likely to feel a leak this way, thus more likely to successfully stop it, thereby doing a better job of training my body in this regard.
Timed urination: She had me start at whatever length of time I thought I could make. At the end of the time, I'd pee, whether I needed to or not, then reset the clock and go the same length of time again, and so on all day. The next day, I'd add five minutes to the interval. Each day I'd add five more minutes. This would do two things:
1. Convince by body that if it just holds on, I will indeed let it pee, and on a reliable schedule. Adding only five minutes lets me lengthen the time slowly, so the body gets used to it, and plays along.
2. Stretches my bladder a little at a time, so that hopefully I can eventually get to a normal three or four hours between urinations.
So how is it working?
I started with not wearing a pad at night, and not putting one on in the morning until I started to notice a leak. Pretty soon, it pushed into early afternoon, then later afternoon. I've been at this for 11 days now, and most days I can go the whole day (and evening) without a pad. I do occasionally get minor spotting on my pants. If I'm going to be someplace public and this is starting to happen, I'll add a pad, but sometimes I try to get by with it anyway. I've decided that little potential embarrassment in front of strangers in the grocery store is a reasonable price to pay for continuing to push this boundary. Other times, if I'm going out with friends, I'll pad up beforehand. I do notice that I leak more when I have a pad; perhaps because I feel safe and let my guard down a bit.
Urgency: I started at one hour intervals. Those were hard to reach, but I managed, with a lot of leg crossing and squeezing. It helped enormously to have a goal, and know exactly how long I had to hold on. I have added five minutes per day, as planned, and am now at two hours. It was just as hard to make two hours today, during some of the intervals, as it was to make one hour at the beginning. But I've noticed that the one-hour mark sails right by with no problem at all, whereas it was a struggle just a few weeks ago. Tomorrow, 2:05.
Sorry that got so long-winded, but I wanted to be sure to explain it well, in case someone wants to make use of it.