Was just thinking about bladder leaks (stress incontinence) after having two tough days training. Just to give you some background, I was a very competitive athlete all my life, playing basketball and athletics. Then the usual story, career takes precedent, for me I went to Nursing School and it wasn't like the university days of now, you went to a nursing school attached to the hospital that you were training in. And it was hard, student welfare really wasn't a thing. You were an extra pair of hands and lots of menial tasks were the order of the day. But I don't think it was necessarily a bad thing, you did 6 week blocks of nursing college, for example on medical conditions, and then went out onto the ward for 12 weeks to implement everything you learnt and it reinforced all that you had learnt in real time. The poor patients had us practicing on them, obviously with consent and supervision but nevertheless practicing!
You did weekends, night duty, just like a member of staff and you were counted in the numbers, not like now. It was tough, no point saying otherwise, but the training was brilliant and nothing phased you. Laying out a deceased person on your first week in the ward kind of prepares you for most realities in life!
The friendships were forever, my best friend is from those days. Most nurses will say the same. So you can see how sport had to take a back seat, besides there were no close tracks and no coaching like nowadays.
Then of course there was socialising and boys and all those things that become important to an 18 year old girl! I did play some basketball and that was good, but was hit and miss with shift work. Then it was post graduates, I did two, one in Paediatrics and one in Intensive Care. Both brilliant for my knowledge to help teens especially with periods and bladder leaks, yes kids get them too, but often for different reasons to adults, but you can imagine how much harder they are for kids. How do you ask a child to wear a pad? I will tell you more about managing these issues in kids in later posts. I am so passionate on these topics. Kids, they just shouldn't suffer, should they? Not in any way, but that isn't reality. So when I am contacted by a mum or dad about their child with bladder leak issues, they become my VIP's, and I won't stop until we get things manageable and get them sorted with Nickeze and we have had 100% success so far. So if you are reading this, and you know someone that needs help, please send them my way and we will do our best to help.
So me and bladder leaks? I didn't have anything until I had my first child. She was born premature, so wasn't even a big baby. I was with a wonderful high risk pregnancy obstetrician and he was amazing, so was able to have an assisted 'normal' vaginal delivery. I do remember being told to do my pelvic floor exercises, and I did think I was doing them....clearly not well enough but hey, they are really hard to do, and doing them right is another ball game altogether, and doing them wrong can cause more harm than good and I will go into that in later blogs with some physiotherapists dealing with these issues. And we will help you with getting these right.
So what happened to me? Well you know when you get over the initial shock of having your first baby....and decide to go for a run, well it took me 6 months to go for that first run, clearly very shocked :)
I ran well, I ran on grass, yes I was with other people, and yes there was a puddle. I didn't even know I was having bladder leaks. They obviously hadn't been bad enough when I coughed or sneezed and so hadn't notice. I must not laugh much as I never have a bladder leak from laughing and I do feel hard done by on that one!
The shock of a wet pants, I thought it was sweat but alas no! It brought me right back to wetting my pants, in I think it was Junior Infants. I vividly remember walking around the school all day at play time with my bum against the wall. I also remember the embarrassment as a child and not wanting anyone to know. When I got home however many hours later, I hid behind the door of the bathroom as my mum had gone to town and I waited there despite my granny telling me to come out and asking me what was wrong, I cried the minute I saw my mum, my tears stinging my humiliated cheeks. Maybe that is the subconscious behind Nickeze, so no child will ever feel that way.
So it was pads thereafter and I didn't feel good about that. I felt I had done something wrong, you know that perfection thing you do with your first baby? Where you do all the organic purees, you do all that putting to sleep, you know the bit when you walk out of the room and that floorboard creaks, or the stair that never had a creak before, suddenly develops one.....and they wake up and cry and it is rinse and repeat....well all that perfect stuff, so why did I leak? Isn't that an old woman's problem? I was only in my early 30's, this just doesn't happen. Well it does, and it happens to well over 1:3 women and guess what? I never told anyone, because I thought it was just me and I was a nurse and I should have done my exercises properly and now look what happened. So it was the silent placement of the pad every time I went off to play basketball or go for my run and I hated that, but it was just me, right? I did this to myself because I hadn't done enough pelvic floor exercises, I had been lazy, I had not done any some days, some weeks at all. This was all my own fault so just put up with it now! Of course all nonsense!
So on it went, second child and it was probably a little worse, the crossing of the legs when I sneezed, pushing up of the undercarriage!
So where did the idea for Nickeze for bladder leaks come from? I used to be a sprinter as I mentioned above and I had heard of Master Sprinting and Master Athletics. I don't know why it came into my head or what planted it there. So I contacted my local club, Galway City Harriers and I met the most amazing pro female inclusive coach, who took me on. He really must have thought, 'what on earth have I got here?' He guessed I wasn't going to be too bad as I omitted something relevant to this story. The part of the story of being on the first Irish Female Bobsled Team and we had been a real novelty factor, weren't known for arriving down at the bottom of the bobsled track the right way up, but who needs those details! We featured on the longest running TV Show in Ireland called The Late Late Show with previous presenter Pat Kenny. It is there on You Tube somewhere. It was the first that my mum knew of the bobsled and what I was up to. She rang me straight after the show and said, 'is that what you are at? Stop that at once, you'll get injured'. The good news is I didn't, and I am still all in one piece. They were amazing times and like everything when you are young, you don't appreciate the excitement of it all.
So here I was, back, attempting to run fast again as a Master. Master athletics start at over 35. You really should see these athletes, they are amazing human beings. The fitness level of some 70 year old, humbled me and many competing, especially internationally, well into their 90's. They are my role models, they are who and what I want to be at 90, if I am blessed to see those years.
But this was the moment that I discovered that these fine athletes, the picture of health, conditioned, strong and athletic, they also had bladder leaks, and they all talked about padding up before they run and the 10,000 steps in your watch before you even warmed up for your race, from all the trips to the bathroom. Yes you feel you want to pee anyway with nerves but unlike when you don't have bladder leaks, you could manage to hold it until you finished your race and there would be no little puddles! But if all these strong athletic women had bladder leaks despite all the strong muscles, core muscles, you name it and they suffered too, then what must it be like for every other woman and so the idea for Nickeze bladder leaks was ignited.
I am just reflecting as I opened this blog on my last 2 days of training. I had speed training yesterday, that is 10m x 4, 20 m x 4, 30 m x 4 and 40m x 2, that isn't maximum volume or anything as I am still building up to the All Ireland Master Final in September. But that was tough on the bladder and I did have leaks but Nickeze managed them well. It probably was a bit more than I should have asked of nickeze underwear, as everything has an absorption limit, and I am trying to have more control there and the underwear is helping me work to make sure I don't go emptying my bladder every 20 mins! But today I did my Milon circuit, have you tried it? It is an amazing general fitness programme. I am not much for gym work, but need to do it for sprinting but I usually start up a chat with someone beside me to avoid the exercises.
But with Milon you have to move to a time so no time for that! Thank you to Kingfisher Gym Group in Galway, they have been sponsoring my gym work for the last couple of years and it is a real endorsement of support for master female athletes. But today I was on the cross trainer and lots of weights and no bladder leaks, so mine are really impact related. I find when I get tired and muscles fatiguing, that the bladder leaks are much worse and I have very little control over the pelvic floor and almost don't feel anything down there.
You know, I have always said Nickeze isn't about telling you to put on a bladder leak Underwear and do nothing else about your bladder leaks. Much can be done, starting with seeing a physio that specialises in bladder leaks. Your Nickeze underwear are your safety blanket, what you put on as your shield when you go out or are in company. I know we shouldn't be ashamed of our war wounds, like in my case from having my children, but let us get real, none of us want a stain in our clothes in public, it isn't shame, it is just our own pride and dignity, just like we don't want to have a snotty nose in public. Social norms, right or wrong.
I am going to start seeing a specialist physio and will document my experience as I go. I know many women book to go and then cancel as there are internals, but if it helps, we can take it, right. We did childbirth, we can do this. So I will let you all know when I start, and I'll tell you all about my experience and the road to maybe less or no bladder leaks, and Nickeze underwear won't have to work so hard anymore, it can just be my little safety blanket..... just in case :) I have included my email below if you would like to talk to me about your own experiences in private.
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