I was so relieved when I heard this from my physical therapist (PT) during our first virtual session. It felt like my name was called to be in the finale of a Miss Universe. Because, finally, I have this chance in winning over this struggle with incontinence. One reason why I delayed getting help deal with this issue is because even when I was still single I had a difficult time doing Kegel’s exercise. It was discouraging then knowing that the one exercise that can solve my problem is one I’ve been trying to do for the longest time even during my time in PT school.
I can’t recall how my issue with incontinence started. It could be due to my intake since I have to have my green tea everyday or maybe the cold weather, I don’t know. All I know is that I bought myself a female urinal and I carry it with me to work. Back then I was working as a home health PT and with the long distance drive time in between patients in the remote scenic areas of Southern Vermont, I would always find myself desperately looking for the nearest gas stop to pee. So, I learned to do time voiding, which worked. But things got worst after I gave birth. I can vividly recall those occasions when I wet the bed while cringing over the painful initial latch of my newly born baby. Over time as our breastfeeding journey got easier, my leaks got a little better although I would still have one or two times of bad incontinence and most of the time few drops with a cough, sneeze, laugh, or even with excitement.
“It is not all about Kegel’s…”. A myth debunked. My PT explained to me that those years of dysmenorrhea or lower abdomen cramps during menstruation brought by a condition called endometriosis caused my pelvic floor muscles to tighten hence it has always been in a tensed or contracted state even at rest. And since those muscles are tight to begin with they do not efficiently contract whenever I try to do Kegel’s exercise leading to weakness of pelvic floor muscles that keep me continent. Then my recent pregnancy even pushed down my bladder to those muscles aggravating my ability to control, now, both urine and gas. Now, the goal is to relax or stretch those tight muscles before I can strengthen. I noticed this as I was doing the home exercise program given by my PT, that I have more difficulty relaxing my pelvic floor muscles than activating them. I really have to close my eyes to draw all my attention to those deep muscles, clear off my mind, take a couple of breaths to relax my whole body before I can feel my pelvic floor muscles relaxing. This is then followed by doing Kegel’s, which is also a challenge. But my difficulty is actually on “isolating” the target muscles, making sure that the other surrounding muscles are silent or less active at least. Whew! What a workout! It was mentally exhausting more than physically, if I may say.
Throughout this journey, I decided to keep an exercise diary. It helps me stay motivated even if sometimes I don’t see any changes. At the same time, writing how I feel during the exercise also helps me communicate effectively to my PT my response to the program. This way, she can modify or progress it according to my pace and cater to my needs. That’s the beauty of having an expert to help me deal with this problem. My program is personal and individualized. I could have just done things alone, relied on Google or YouTube, kept trying and failing on doing Kegel’s. But I chose a different path, now I’m not alone in this journey. Someone made it her own mission to live a quality life; to laugh, sneeze or cough and remain dry.
Tribeca Physical Therapy is officially reopened for in-person physical therapy sessions and continues to offer Telehealth PT or Virtual PT. Call us at 2124068080 or message us and book your first session free.