Social connection is so important during this time, here are some tips on staying connected to others during this time. Remember – we are all in this together.
If there is someone you think may struggle through social isolation, it is important to reach out to them and let them know you care:
Call them to check on their welfare
Send an email
Leave a note under their door
Don’t underestimate the power you have to offer hope to another person.
I am 62 years old and have been dealing with symptoms of IBS for close to 15 years. I’ve had countless accidents in public – at events, friends houses, you name it.
The early days of having the condition were mortifying to me – I got pretty good at coming up with all sorts of excuses for why I need to leave a party or event early. But the isolation I think may be the worst. I just always felt like there was no one I could talk to about it and no one who would understand.
Luckily, my family has been supportive. They don’t say much about it and just try to help with what they can. I know now to bring back up clothes and cleanup supplies everywhere I go. I’ve also worked a lot with my doctor to develop an evolving treatment plan and ways to manage my IBS.
This condition has been so embarrassing for me and has caused me a great deal of stress throughout my life. I’m constantly worried about having an accident, but that just makes me even more anxious and in turn triggers more accidents. It’s a vicious cycle that is so hard to break.
The biggest things that have helped me are exercise, watching my diet, and taking up meditation. I find that exercising daily is a great stress reliever and also helps to get things moving, if you know what I mean. It’s been a long road of trial and error to determine a diet that works for me, but cutting out beans, gluten, and sugary foods has seemed to really help. Keeping a diary of what you eat and drink each day, and how it affects your bowels, can be a huge help in determining triggers and patterns. (Download our free diaries here!)
Finally, meditation has been a complete game changer. I’ve taken some classes, done a lot of self study, and have even found apps that have helped guide me through the process. Whenever I start feeling overwhelmed or anxious, even just a quick 5-minute meditation can be enough to calm my nerves, and seemingly, my bowels. I encourage everyone to give it a try – what do you have to lose?
I think the most important thing is for people to keep some perspective on life and know that while this condition is a constant struggle, it doesn’t have to be limiting unless you allow it to be. Talk with your doctor, a nutritionist, a therapist – or all three if it helps! Find ways to manage it and cope with the stress. It really makes all the difference.
Baton Rouge, LA
I see it all the time – the ads for OAB, featuring these women who have to run to the bathroom every five minutes. They’re always women, right? You never see a man in these ads. But I’m a man, and quite frankly, I feel a little left out.
I have OAB. I’ve lived with this condition for the past several years. I don’t have any known reason for it – I’ve never had prostate issues, am not on many medications, and rarely get bladder infections. But the urge to use the bathroom strikes me often and it’s pretty annoying. I usually make it in time, but have had the occasional leak. I’ve talked with my doctor about it but after he determined that my prostate was normal, he sort of brushed it off for a while – I don’t think he’s used to hearing a man come in with this type of problem unless it’s prostate related. But I finally was persistent enough that he prescribed some medication.
I experienced so many negative side effects from each medication I tried over the course of several months that I stopped them completely. It was then that my doctor finally recommended Botox. Yes, I had Botox injected into my bladder. And I have to say it was one of the best things that happened to me. It took almost no time to work, I didn’t need to use a catheter (I guess some people need to), and it lasted about 6-7 months before I had to go back in for another treatment.
It took some pushing on my part, but I was able to get treatment for my OAB. If you’re a man with this condition, don’t let it control you, and don’t believe there’s not a treatment available for you. The media and drug companies focus on women because it’s more common for them to have these types of issues, but men can have them just as easily. And the medications and procedures work just as well for us.
Do something about your OAB. I’m so glad I persisted and got treatment for it. It helps me live a fuller life without the worry of overactive bladder.
Roger S., New York, NY
When I was in my early forties, I suddenly found myself rushing to the bathroom constantly. The urge would strike without warning causing me to sprint there lest I want to have an accident everywhere. It wasn’t too big of a deal when I was at home – I was typically able to make it to a bathroom, but when I was in an unfamiliar place, I’d feel panicked until I knew where every toilet in the place was, just in case I needed to make a mad dash to one.
I had been at stay at home mom for the last several years, caring for my youngest daughter, but when she finally started school, I decided it was time to return to the working world. But first, I resolved to get my bladder under control – I didn’t want to be rushing from meeting to meeting with important clients with the fear of peeing my pants.
I visited my doctor and found out that I had Overactive Bladder. It’s where your bladder has sudden spasms that cause you to feel the need to empty it – even if you just went. He prescribed a medication, which helped a lot and made me feel more confident as I returned to work. I’m now exploring a procedure involving nerve stimulation that is supposed to be even more effective and won’t require me to take medications every day.
I’m so happy I got this treated before returning to work, and wish I would have done it sooner! It would have made heading to the park with my daughter much less daunting! Don’t wait to see a doctor if you have OAB. Turns out there are lots of things that you can do to treat this common (but not normal!) problem.