Several years ago, I wet my pants so often I mentioned it to my doctor who said, "We've got to send you to Liz." Not to UNMC's physical therapist Elizabeth Hopkins, but just to Liz.
Liz greeted me with a big smile and chattered as she led me down the hall to her office. She talked about the weather and her two-year-old and what funny things he had done.
In her office, she introduced me to the Kegel exercise to strengthen my pelvic floor. And she said, "Name your bladder so you can talk to it genteelly."
I called my bladder Betty Boop, after the famous cartoon character of the 1930s. However, I still peed my pants, so I saw Liz again. Turns out I hadn't learned the Kegel correctly, so I re-learned it, and this time I "got" it.
As I parted with Liz, she said, "Don't expect a perfect recovery. You may have accidents. But if you need to, don't hesitate to call."
I really didn't want to piss my pants, so Betty Boop and I worked out twice daily, nearly every day for several years. But then a week or so ago, I began to pee my pants, nothing alarming, just a drip about the size of a quarter. Then Betty lost control. Urine gushed and drenched my jeans leg more than once.
I called Liz. She couldn't see me for a month, but a new physical therapist, Amber, could see me sooner. I went.
Amber greeted me with a big smile, and as she led me down the hall to her office, she chattered. The winter weather was horrible; she'd just moved to Nebraska from Oklahoma, and her kids didn't know how to take the snow.
In her office, she examined me and gave me an A+ for pelvic muscle control. We talked about my recent constipation and how that could have pressed my bladder into dumping down my leg. She added a little Kegel push to some of my regular exercises, combining pelvic pressure with my squats, for instance. And she taught me how to wiggle my butt on the toilet seat after I'd urinated to encourage Betty to release more urine.
"Any questions?" Amber smiled.
"Yes," I said. "Why did you move from Oklahoma to Nebraska?"
She told me about her military husband and his need to come here.
With one arm in my coat, I looked at her and said, "Yours is such a strange profession."
Amber turned serious. "Yes, but here in this office I change lives. So many women who come in here are so afraid that they can't even speak the words."
Liz, Amber, their first names, their chatter about the weather, talk about the husbands and kids, even my very own Betty Boop suddenly made sense. Those therapists were working, they were busy breaking down our fears so they could help us.
I left impressed with a new sense of their professionalism.