In a vain search to reach the level of physical perfection required of middle-aged women, I’m endeavouring to drink more water.
My hope is that by upping the volume of water that passes through my body each day, I will drug a niggling kidney stone, transform my sallow complexion to the porcelain finish of my twenties, eat less, and sort out some digestive issues that started in menopause.
Basically, I’m expecting a miracle
Apparently, water is the elixir of life, and women should drink around 2L of the stuff a day. But I don’t even fulfil that criteria by counting my coffees, Sloe gins, and the desperate slugs my body demands after every attempt at exercise.
And none of them count, anyway.
The biggest problem I have with water is my body’s refusal to retain it long enough to do any good.
It’s like I have some structural issue whereby my oesophagus extends all the way to my urethra and there are no STOP signs along the way.
I’ve worked out the issue is not solely related to my shoddy pelvic floor – from birthing two babies, one of whom weighed more than a toddler and shot from my body with the speed of a canon ball – because I can still hold on, when I have to.
But I can literally drink a glass of water and watch it exit my body before I finish it
Fortunately, because I haven’t experienced any other side effects or discomfort, my issue points to a frequent urination problem – thank you, Dr. Google – possibly caused by an overactive bladder or decreased oestrogen, and not helped by anxiety.
A very common issue in middle-aged women.
And while I always suspected that my bladder was the only naturally active part of my body, I do need to understand how to fix the problem before I get caught in a compromising position.
So what can I do?
Obviously, I don’t need tips to get more of the stuff down me, and the suggestion of cutting back on coffee and alcohol is tricky right now – as we’re currently in lockdown in Sydney, hence not the best time to reduce two of the few remaining pleasures in my life – see self-care/mental health.
So, on the advice of a nurse friend of mine, I’m giving bladder retraining a go. I’m trying to monitor how often I go to the bathroom and delaying urination a little more each time.
Admittedly, it’s about as much fun as the name suggests and (I imagine) feels a lot like the pain addicts experience during withdrawal – my fix being the bathroom – but I am getting better at it.
There’s no easy solution, unfortunately, and in hindsight I wish I’d done my pelvic floor exercises after childbirth
But I refuse to feel ashamed about a little incontinence caused by the awesomeness of the female body. And thank God for celebrities like Kate Winslet and her confession about her problem – “I can’t jump on trampolines anymore, I wet myself” – for bringing more awareness to it.
I won’t underplay the difficulty of drinking enough water at this age, and I’m not sure that rewarding myself with food treats while I wait fifteen minutes longer to pee is necessarily helping my goal of eating less, but at least I have the clear complexion of a twenty-year-old to look forward to.
How about you? Are you struggling with frequent urination or incontinence? If so, what treatments have worked?