Seven years ago, after my first pregnancy, my body was damaged. It no longer worked as it had before. Whenever I ran, jumped or sneezed, I found myself wet with urine. (It is incredibly humbling to share this with such a broad audience, but there is a reason I feel led to do so.)
Mystified, I turned to my close friends who also had babies. Did this happen to them? Is this normal? No, they had no issues controlling their urine. Just me.
In seeking help from my doctor, she determined that I have stress incontinence. I never thought that term would apply to me, especially in my 30’s. I had new limits. New restrictions had been forced upon me. I blamed no one…just tried to deal with it.
These limits increased greatly during the Labor Day weekend of this year. I was at Alumni Camp at Camp Brookwoods with my family. This is a new family tradition and we were all expecting a wonderful time. It is a truly beautiful place and the kids are always excited to explore and experience God’s creation. First stop…the beach. We set out…
All was bliss until…whoosh! I was soaked! Totally soaked and there was no way I could hide it. I had on khaki shorts that were now, to my utter embarrassment, frustration and discouragement, two-tone. In the blink of an eye our plans were thwarted. Having no other option, I watched my family go to the beach for some fun while I hurried back to the cabin to change clothes and regain my composure.
As I sat in the cabin wondering if this would happen the next time I took a short walk, my thoughts turned to my sisters with fistula. Is this what it is like for them? Is this what they face each day, all day? As for me, I had a change of clothes and a corner market stocked withpads. My sisters with fistula don’t have these options. They constantly soil their one change of clothing. They have no corner store to buy pads. I found a way to stay dry. I was able to avoid further embarrassment and discomfort for the most part. Our sisters with fistula cannot do this as easily.
Is it a coincidence that I was called to speak out for women and girls who leak urine?
As the weeks have passed, my condition has worsened, limiting me more and more. As frustrating as this is, I pray that I can use this trial to try (all I can do) to relate to those for whom I was called to speak; those for whom I work each day. May I grasp a sense of their limits, even if only marginally.
As I work with my doctor to address my condition and consider my options, I get drive 15 minutes to her office then go home to my family. Mostof our sisters with fistula are abandoned to exist alone. I get to view surgery from the perspective of what timing is most convenient so I can get back to my active lifestyle. For those with fistula, surgery opens the door to new life, not a mere improvement.
I know I don’t have fistula, but I leak all the time. It keeps me from playing with our kids as I would like, makes walking our kids a half-mile to school a huge production, and now that my toe is cleared for running, I often cannot. I know it is not causing me to be ostracized as often happens with our sisters with fistula, but it is keeping me from the life I desire to live.
I am not seeking your pity, but sharing how my trial can be used for good. I hope my path will enable me to speak out with greater passion, hope and courage, as we seek to provide free fistula surgeries, identify ways to prevent fistula from occurring, and work to see this condition eliminated off the face of the earth! When this is part of my history, I pray I never forget my own embarrassment, frustration and discouragement. May I use it as fuel for the fire burning within Hope for Our Sisters, as we work to enable women and girls, who have leaked for days, months, or years, become dry once again.
May one more woman or girl be healed this day…
© 2013 by Brooke F Sulahian