Learn about the different options available if you’re having bladder issues related to your MS. Hear our guests and expert neurologists talk about how those options may help you.
Bowel & Bladder Function
URINATION TIPS & TOOLS
Dr. Wanda Castro: My name is Wanda Castro. I work with Biogen, and I will be your host on She Talks MS. Today, we will be talking about bowel and bladder function. So, Ann Marie how does bowel and bladder issues impact your life?
Ann Marie J.: I wake up in the morning, and like many people, you grab a cup of coffee. For me, I can’t do that. Because that cup of coffee means I’m going to go to the bathroom fast and sometimes my ride for work can be anywhere from an hour to two hours. I won’t make it. And god forbid there’s traffic on the bridge. Oh, it’s not going to look good.
Kimberly D.: I was somewhere recently and, they closed the bathrooms for maintenance. The floor above was open, and so we couldn’t imagine the line, and it was like, I don’t care if this bathroom is closed for maintenance, you know, and this is my mother saying it, like I don’t care if it’s closed for maintenance, you let her in, or she’ll go to the bathroom on the floor. People don’t understand, so you do get the weird looks like ugh, I don’t understand. She has to go to the bathroom right now? She can’t hold it?
Dr. Kaplan: I’ve talked to a lot of patients about this, and they, you know, someone was saying that MS is the silent disease. Because just looking at any one of you, no one would ever guess.
Wanda: What about you Pam?
Pam S.: I was always pretty active, so when I didn’t have control over my bladder, it really limited what I did physically. Back before MS, I would run like six to eight miles a day, every day, rain, snow, whatever. And of course, I can’t do that now. Even if I wanted to go out and take a walk, I’d get halfway down the block and have to turn around and pray that I make it back to go to the bathroom. So, it really just stopped me from doing what I wanted to do. Now that I cath, I cath before my activity, and I am good to go.
Wanda: I imagine that some of the people watching this video doesn’t know what self-cath is, right. So, is there any simple way to let them know what this is?
Dr. Klineova: Self-catheterization, or self-cath, is a technique when a patient inserts a catheter into urethra to evacuate urine. This is done usually by patients themselves. It is done at a certain frequency. It depends on how much urine is there in a bladder.
Dr. Kaplan: And one of the advantages to self-catheterization is that you can empty your bladder to completion.
Pam S.: When my nurse finally mentioned it to me, I was like, oh, no, no, no, no. This is like round one for MS. You know, like, it’s winning. And I did not want to let MS win that round. It was tough, that’s how I looked at it. But after I embraced it what I realized is that uh-uh, MS didn’t win this round, I won.
Dr. Kaplan: I’ve had this conversation with many patients and initially people are a little hesitant. And then once they start doing it, they’re like, why didn’t I start doing this earlier? This is so liberating, exactly what you’re saying.
Kimberly D.: So, do they look at cath as like, okay, that’s your last resort?
Dr. Klineova: We usually tailor it to individual patients’ needs and we look at other symptoms: frequency of infections, hand dexterity, so you know, how is the hand function. And we also plug in sort of patients’ preferences. It’s a very tailored approach. One mode of therapy doesn’t mean that there are no other ones.
Wanda: Emotionally, how do these issues make you feel?
Kimberly D.: It can be a little draining. But also, you go into the situation with the tools in your tool belt. You can get this pee-pee funnel in different colors, it cups over your vagina, and it’s shaped like a penis almost. So, you go to the bathroom and it just streams out.
Ann Marie J.: I remember, like, when I first started having bladder issues, the amount of sanitary napkins I would go through. Because, you know, there was this little, like I said, just little spurts, little spurts. Yeah, just a little leakage, and I would just, you know what, let me just use a sanitary napkin, you know? But, again, all of that changed as I got to learn more about my body and learning a bit more about when to drink and how to drink that, yeah, gone are those days.
Dr. Kaplan: But you bring up a good point. I've talked to a lot of patients about this, because a lot of my patients are using the wrong pads. They're using the menstrual pads, or they're using the panty liners. And I say, those are not meant to absorb urine. They don't work that well. And so people are like, well, is the only other option adult diapers? And it's not. There's a whole other aisle in the drugstore that's dedicated to special pads that are just for urinary leakage. And one of my patients started using those types of pads, and she's like, wow, this is so much better. And she's like, but I always have a change of pad in my purse, you know, just in case.
Pam S.: Someone in a similar situation to where they may be having bowel and bladder problems, I would encourage them not to be afraid to speak with their physician. Find out your own information about it by talking to other people, that’s helped for me, and then go for it.
Wanda: Thank you so much. And we hope that anyone that is looking at us, gets some additional tips.
All: Thank you.
Everyone’s experience with multiple sclerosis (MS) is different. Your healthcare provider should always be your primary source of information. The people in this video are paid spokespeople for Biogen.