Could I honestly have MS for 18 years and never discuss a symptom that will eventually effect 80% of people with MS. Let’s start with basic urology lessons of what a healthy bladder does when functioning correctly. We make urine in our kidneys that travels down two tubes called ureters to the bladder, an elastic sac that holds urine. When all is good and working right as the urine is stored the sac expands. When it expands nerves in the bladder send signals to the spinal cord which signal the brain…it’s time to empty me. Now anyone with MS already see where the problems with us are starting the spinal cord signal. For anyone reading this that doesn’t have MS, imagine a TV electrical plug. The plug is usually covered in a thick black rubber protecting the wires underneath. Now imagine your dog chewed the cord exposing the wires underneath doing damage. now you plug the TV in and sometimes the power goes out because of those frayed wires the power isn’t reaching the TV. Make more sense? It is basically true of all MS symptoms the wires are frayed and the extent of the symptoms are based on where and how much damage has been done to the wires.
Now that we learned what a healthy bladder is supposed to do and why the issue happens in MS patients, let’s continue. We can have two issues or both an overactive bladder, this is where the bladder can’t hold a normal amount of urine (4-8 ounces) or a bladder that doesn’t empty properly. Depending on which one you are dealing with this can lead to frequency or urgency with urination, hesitancy starting urination, or incontinence. Once again the mental part of MS. The bladder issues leads to challenges for us. I don’t go anywhere without knowing where a bathroom is and how far. The hardest part and the honest part is accidents have happened a lot. I get to the bathroom but held it for too long and the bladder releases knowing I’m in the room however I’ve not got to the bowl yet. The knowledge that I’m close does something to my muscles if I’ve tried to hold my urine too long. I’ve learned that I sometimes literally have 30 seconds to 1 minute from the time the urine sensation hits to needing the bathroom. Well thank you MS a total boost to the self confidence and self esteem because being 44 with a walker wasn’t enough let’s wet our pants too. Look it’s happened it awful both physically and mentally but there are treatments and there are products to help avoid the issue. There are medications on the market to treat both hesitancy or overactive bladders. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. Cornsilk an herbal supplement works wonders for my friend. The other thing to do is plan your outings. First always know where a bathroom is. Second plan as always. Don’t drink a lot if you know you’ll be out. Third wear a pad they make them smaller, less discreet. Fourth be honest with who your with. Fifth keep a change of clothes in the car. Look I’d love to say we don’t need this but 80% that’s a large number so there it is, the truth about the bladder and MS. As always just be smart. Won’t be perfect but it will prevent the accidents a large percentage of the time.