Let’s Talk About World Continence Week

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As this week is World Continence Week, I’m sharing some important content from NRS Healthcare and an interview they have with an ulcerative colitis patient. I’ll be doing my bit by sharing on social media and getting involved….

Around one in four people encounter bowel or bladder instability during their lives, so to show support for World Continence Week, NRS Healthcare has created a guide confronting the unspoken subject of men’s incontinence.

The guide explains and tackles:

  • the different types of incontinence (stress, urge, faecal, mixed, overflow and nocturnal enuresis)
  • what can cause incontinence (diseases, medications, injury in the spine, damage to the bladder)
  • excuses that people are likely to give when avoiding getting a diagnosis
  • common situations those living with incontinence might find themselves in
  • how to deal with these situations
  • products that can help make life easier and enable those with incontinence to confidently continue living independently

You can read the guide here.

 

Interview with Steve (Ulcerative Colitis Patient)

What exactly is Ulcerative Colitis?

A long-term condition where the colon and rectum become inflamed. Small ulcers can develop on the colon’s lining which can bleed and produce pus. It is long term, however, if the bowel and rectum are badly infected, it may lead to surgery in order to remove the affected areas.

How and when were you diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis?

I was diagnosed at the age of 14 when I experienced irritating pain in my stomach. I was rushed to hospital in the early hours of the morning as it got to the stage where I couldn’t physically move without great pain and I wasn’t eating or drinking.

What treatment did you receive for your condition?

I had unplanned major keyhole surgery which led to the removal of my entire colon and rectum and having two stomas fitted. As my condition had reached such a severe stage, removal was my only viable treatment option.

I also had to take daily medications to reduce the inflammation. I had a strict diet plan to follow for the next few months after being diagnosed, to keep my insides from growing more inflamed. I also learnt that fish oil supplements can reduce inflammation, which helped me at the time.

 

What advice did you receive when you were first diagnosed?

I was advised to follow a diet plan for the first few months. Eating foods like pureed soups, crackers and cereals made with refined white flour were important to make sure my insides stayed as calm as possible. I was also told that when I was eventually mobile and moving about, I should always keep a lookout for nearby toilets to avoid difficult situations.

Any tips on dealing with certain situations you’ve experienced which might help others?

I think all people who are either living with or have experienced Ulcerative Colitis can relate to going through different personal scenarios. I’d have more confidence when taking an extra stoma bag with me when going out, simply hidden away in my pocket, and if a situation occurred, I would always have back up and not be lost or struggling on what to do next. Another useful tip is applying extra pressure to the adhesive with sticky tape. From this I felt positive the bag would stay strong and I could continue with my normal daily life, including sporting activities.

How has Ulcerative Colitis affected you?

When I was younger, I missed out on school for roughly 6 weeks. I couldn’t stand up or walk without intense stomach pain. I couldn’t eat or drink and I lost a dramatic amount of weight. I consistently lacked energy and had a high temperature. I was unable to rest and get much sleep as the pain would keep me awake and disturb me.

Is living with Ulcerative Colitis manageable?

Of course, anything can be manageable with a positive mindset, and medication has developed positively over the years as people are living longer and coping with their struggles. It is quite remarkable what medication can do to help people.

 

How did having the stoma change the way you thought/felt about your condition?

It didn’t fully take over my thought process however some small parts of it did. At the very start when I could visually see it, I did tend to react. Social outings were tricky at first and seemed a bit scary. I never let it rule me or get in the way of things. Everybody who looked after me at the hospital said I had a good mindset and came across as brave.

How do you feel now the stoma has been replaced with a J pouch?

I did get used to living with a stoma and managed to still do everything I wanted to do, although after being lucky enough for the reversal surgery I become a lot happier. The most difficult activity was going swimming as your completely exposing your stomach,

 What advice would you give to any other young men living with continence issues?

Positive thinking, surround yourself with the support of loved ones, as you’re not in it alone, and make sure to follow the diet plan recommended by your healthcare team at the very start.

You can read the full interview with Steve here

Information provided by NRS Healthcare

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