Several months ago I wrote a story about how those of us with spinal cord injuries can have bladder accidents. While reading the comments people left, several said they wished someone would write a blog about how individuals with spinal cord injuries are susceptible to having bowel accidents as well.
I know it’s a subject we don’t like to talk about. I think the biggest reason is the embarrassment of those around us knowing that we can – and sometimes do – have bowel accidents. The first 3 years of living with a spinal cord injury I was constantly worried that if I left my house I was going to have a bowel accident. After doing a bowel program we can think we are finished and go about our daily business; the next thing you know you have a bowel accident.
I allowed that worry and fear hinder me from really enjoying life.
I was 19 when I had my injury and that’s right in the prime dating age. I was scared to death to go out on dates or to even to go and hang out with friends because of my fear of having a bladder or bowel accident. One day I just started praying to God about all the fears and worries I had and I asked him to help ease the fears and to give me strength to move forward and embrace it so I could make the most out of each day.
Not long after that it’s like I lost the fear and just started living life. I started dating and going out with friends and trying new things. Was I still susceptible to having a bowel accident? Absolutely! However, I didn’t allow those fears to control my life anymore.
I really gained confidence when I first started dating the woman who is now my wife. Jena and I had only been dating for about a month when we were going to go meet my grandfather for dinner. After getting to the restaurant I soon feel the autonomic dysreflexia come on and I felt my face turning bright red. My first thought was I needed to go and cath, so I went to the bathroom as quickly as possible. As soon as I got into the stall I realized I didn’t have to cath. It was too late… I had a bowel accident.
I was freaking out wondering what I should do. I texted Jena and told her that we couldn’t stay for dinner and that I needed to leave. She texted back and asked if I had a bladder accident. (Thankfully, I had shared with her after a few weeks of dating that I can sometimes have a bladder accidents). I told her no; it was the other type of accident. She replied back, “Okay.”
We got in my truck and I was totally embarrassed. I apologized and Jena looked at me and said that it was okay. She then asked me if I needed any help getting cleaned up. I thanked her, but said I could take care of it. We rode back to my house with the windows rolled down.
I realized at that moment that Jena loved me for me and could see past the complications that come with a spinal cord injury. So I did what I always do after having a bowel accident: I went and cleaned up and changed clothes. And then we enjoyed the rest of the evening together! I could have let the shear embarrassment of the situation to destroy our relationship. But that’s not who I am.
I feel God gave me a second chance after my accident and if I have to deal with a bowel accident every once in a while, I can handle it. Sure, I get mad and lose my temper for a few minutes, but I get over it and keep pushing forward.
My grandmother used to tell me that we were never promised this life would be easy. She is totally right. Life is tough sometimes. Just remember others deal with the same things as you – and some have it worse than others. Our attitudes can make or break us. I choose to let my circumstances make me into a better person who can encourage others to not give up when faced with the complications from a spinal cord injury.
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The opinions and experiences presented herein are for informational use only. Individual results may vary depending on your condition. Always consult with your health care professional. This individual has been compensated by Bard Medical for the time and effort in preparing this article for BARD’s further use and distribution. BMD/BMDA/0518/0658