It was supposed to be a dream cruise. Forty days of nothing but big sky, stretches of cerulean ocean and exotic ports of call. Sadly, Sara’s* bliss was derailed by a frantic search for protective pads.
“I’ve had a problem with sudden urge for about 15 years and worn pads for a long time,” Sara admits. “I’d packed a huge number of pads, but was running out. I couldn’t believe the ship didn’t have any in their shop—especially considering the cruise had so many older people!”
Instead of exploring sun-drenched cities whenever the ship docked, Sara made a beeline for the nearest drug store. “I’d try to sneak away from my friends so I could look for something I could buy. It’s not anything I talked about with anyone. It’s embarrassing,” she says. “I finally had to buy sanitary pads to try and get by. It was a terrible experience and just kept getting worse.” Over the years, Sara had talked with her primary care doctor about medications that might help. She decided against them, though, because she was already taking several prescription meds and didn’t want to add another.
Years earlier, she’d tried pelvic floor therapy. “I did several sessions and it seemed to help, but I didn’t follow through with all of my therapy.”
Instead, Sara simply tried to tough it out the best she could with pads. “The pads kept getting thicker and thicker. I was always looking for a restroom. Always thinking I don’t want to do this or do that because it might be hard to get to a rest room.”
It wasn’t until she began delivering food to a widowed neighbor recovering from surgery that Sara began to think she may have better options. “She shared that she had a pessary to control her leaky bladder. She recommended I go see Dr. Tracy Cannon-Smith.”
Sara went to her appointment fully expecting to hear she might need surgery. “I thought maybe my pelvic organs had dropped, but after a physical exam, Dr. Cannon-Smith told me everything was my right where it normally is for someone my age. Surgery wouldn’t improve my condition.”
Instead, Dr. Cannon-Smith guided Sara down a different treatment path. “Her condition meant there were good, minimally invasive options available to her—including Botox injections and prescription medications that are quite effective in curbing urge incontinence,” explains Dr. Cannon-Smith. “We started her on a prescription medicine called Myrbetriq.”
Curbing the Urge
“I like Dr. Cannon-Smith so much” Sara admits. “One of the great things about working with her is she gives you direct access to a patient navigator—Meredith Norris—who specializes in overactive bladder issues. Meredith is easy to reach and available to answer questions and help with any issues. It is so nice to be able to talk with someone who has access to all of your information and can either advise you or say let me check with Dr. Cannon-Smith and get back with you. I programmed her number right into my phone.”
When Sara noticed Myrbetriq was raising her blood pressure, she called Meredith.
“She told me there was a new medication that had just come out—Gemtesa—that didn’t have that side effect.”
After taking the once-a-day Gemtesa pill for just a few days, Sara noticed a dramatic difference.
“I thought, ‘Wow!’ I would describe Gemtesa as life changing for me. I no longer have to wear a pad when I leave the house. I don’t have to wear a pad in the house. I can sleep all night without getting up at night to go to the bathroom. When I do get up, I can calmly walk to the bathroom.
An avid water drinker and coffee lover who once had to curb her fluid intake, Sara no longer worries about that. “I drink what I want to drink,” she says.
Enjoying Travel Again
Sara started taking Gemtesa in May. By early August, she and her husband were winging their way to Hawaii. “I took a few pads with me as a precaution. With a nine-hour flight, I thought maybe I should wear a pad just in case there was turbulence.”
Sara didn’t need it—and she is more than delighted.
“This is something I suffered with for so long,” she admits. “I didn’t even tell my husband how bad it was. I didn’t tell my best friend, or even my daughter recently. When I did, she said, ‘Mom, some of my friends have stress incontinence and overactive bladder or a combo and they’re a lot younger. It’s so common.’ She’s right. It affects so many women, but you don’t have to live with it. There are treatment options that are life-changing.”
Are you struggling with overactive bladder?
The compassionate incontinence specialists at Urology Partners will help you take charge of your bladder. We offer effective treatment options for every type of incontinence. Call 866-367-8768 or schedule an online appointment.