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Recommended Read: Managing Life with Incontinence

Oct 08 2012 - Book Review by Lori Jo Vest, Manager, Organic, Inc.

The Simon Foundation for Continence is a renowned organization in the medical community, dedicated to educating and empowering people about - as well as reducing the stigma associated with - both urinary and bowel incontinence. The group published “Managing Life with Incontinence” in April of 2012 to provide valuable information, resources and strategies to help both newbies and veterans live with the condition. This book could also serve as an exceptional tool for educating others around you.

In the introduction, incontinence expert and patient advocate Dr. Rick Rader jumps right in and sets the tone by elevating the sphincter to hero status:

“None of us sing praises to a hearty sphincter,” Rader observes, “But let it tire, fatigue, derail, or forget its ninja skills and it becomes not only apparent, but the center of attention. An impaired sphincter can reconfigure lives that were doing just fine before it abandoned its sentry post. It can redefine lives. Lives that never gave the darn ‘thing’ a thought now must plan, scheme, schedule, prepare, anticipate and compensate in ways that would impress Harry Potter.”

In this thorough and thoughtfully written book, the editors have combined “Lived Experience” stories from people who are incontinent with fact- and advice-filled chapters. They seem to have covered everything, including:

• Causes of both urinary and bowel incontinence

• Overcoming stigma

• Practical tips for managing incontinence

• Evaluations of treatment options

• Emotional resilience tips, including self talk suggestions

• Advice for communicating effectively with medical professionals

• Sharing about your condition with friends and family members

• Recommended websites and organizations that focus on incontinence

• A terms glossary

• A list of 37 additional recommended publications

My personal favorite chapter was the one entitled “Creating an Improved Quality of Life.” Since bladder control issues can be so challenging emotionally, causing anxiety and even depression, the step-by-step approach in this section provides a strong framework for creating new, more positive ways of thinking.

The eleven “Lived Experience” chapters cover a wide range of incontinence causes, including obstetric issues, prostate cancer and disabilities. People from around the world share their emotional responses to their original diagnosis and convey how they’ve managed to make peace with their condition and maintain their quality of life.

It may be hard to imagine that a book like this one could be delightful, though it is. It’s easy to read, interesting and written from a compassionate and advocative point of view.