I was debating sharing this post. Because really who wants to share their bladder problems with the whole wide world. But as always, if my journey and what I’m working on with my health can provide ideas on how you might manage your journey then the blog post has a place on this site.
Since my diagnosis with MS, I’ve dealt with 2 urinary tract infections that have led to a kidney infection both times. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) no longer feel like they used to. I don’t really have the burning sensation while peeing or itchy symptoms so when I got one last year I didn’t realize what it was until it had gone into my kidneys. My only symptom was at night when I felt like I had to pee, I’d go to the washroom and nothing would happen. I’d get back into bed and feel like I had to pee maybe 5 mins later, another trip to the washroom, again nothing. Ok back to bed, just relax and go to sleep and then 5 mins later another trip to the throne and finally some action. It was the most frustrating thing but I didn’t think it was an infection. I mentioned it to my doctor but it was so soon after my diagnosis we were busy looking after other facets of my health first. Finally, I was stopped in my tracks with unbelievable pain lower back pain and fever which resulted in a quick trip to a walk-in clinic and a week-long antibiotic treatment. After the pain continued I went to my doctor, gave another urine sample, found the infection still to be festering and another stronger antibiotic treatment was given. Problem solved, infection killed, continue on my merry little way to rebuild my gut bacteria after taking antibiotics.
My bladder problems then really started to surface around the summer of 2015. I was mentioning to friends that sharing a tent camping with me or a room on a race weekend wouldn’t be fun because I usually get up once or twice a night to pee. They looked at me in shock and said that was not normal. I didn’t even realize this had been going on for such a long time in my life that it became normal too me.
I went in to see my doctor and we decided to do a pelvic ultrasound. I showed up with a full bladder, was given an abdominal and internal ultrasound, and was then asked to void my bladder and the ultrasound was repeated. This is when we found that I retain around 64 mL of urine even though I felt like I had finished. Which is a large amount but probably a reason why I contracted and am still contracting UTIs.
From there I googled MS bladder voiding problems to see if this was linked to my sidekick. I found this article on the MS National Society webpage. I was kind of excited to find it because I realized I wasn’t alone in these symptoms. I don’t really go to the MS community with symptoms because mine have been so mild and I know what causes them from overheating while working out.
And then my next UTI came around in January of 2016. This time around I tried to treat it completely naturally for a few months. Unfortunately, it went into my kidneys again so back on antibiotics I go. Thankfully I’m not completely stubborn about conventional medicine and will do what it takes to take care of myself.
There are 6 things I’m doing to take care of myself with this infection and moving forward.
- I am on a course of Macrobid antibiotics, prescribed by my family doctor, so I can clear out the infection. I’ll be high-dosing probiotics at the same time and after this round of antibiotics to ensure my gut health does not get entirely wiped out.
- I am taking echinacea and cranberry complex by MediHerb, prescribed by my Naturopath so that I can fight whatever bacteria wants to fester in my bladder when it can’t void and potentially avoid infections in the future. I was taking both these supplements prior to needing antibiotics and will continue. I do believe they work on UTIs but since I can’t void my bladder completely I know I’m dealing with a more complicated situation.
- Planned bladder voiding. That’s right folks I’ve got a new alarm on my phone that goes off every 2 hours from 5 am to 9 pm to remind me to pee.
- Making bladder voiding relaxing. You may wonder why I bring my phone to the bathroom. Part of planned bladder voiding is sitting on the throne, relaxing and really allowing the bladder time to relax and void. Gotta keep myself entertained somehow. Maybe I’ll start carrying my Kobo in with me. If any co-workers read this you’ll know what’s up 🙂
- I already avoid alcohol and spicy foods but it is recommended to decrease caffeine intake as well to avoid future UTIs. My one cup of coffee per day is potentially at risk. THE HORROR 🙂 I can’t give it up quite yet.
- Pelvic floor therapy. Usually, this is done for older patients or women after childbirth to retrain their pelvic floor muscles to contract. I have the opposite problem. After going to several sessions at Toronto Physiotherapy before the new year my therapist discovered that I have the opposite problem and can’t actually relax my pelvic floor muscles which may also be contributing to the incomplete bladder voiding. I will re-start weekly sessions to re-educate my pelvic floor muscles to relax as the bladder contracts.
So realistically there are numerous reasons why my bladder may not be emptying. Although I love to try and understand why it’s happening I also know that sometimes the answers aren’t there but the many solutions are there to be implemented and tried until success.
It’s not glamorous but it’s my reality and for others. Here’s to future happy bladders.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I do not claim to cure any cause, condition or disease. I do not provide medical aid for the purpose of health or disease and claim to be a doctor. I just provide what I’m doing to treat myself.
5 thoughts on “The not so glamorous side of MS; bladder voiding”
This is one of my most annoying symptoms. I used to blame it on having 3 children but it is far beyond childbearing issues. I have also urinary urgency ( where you can’t hold it). I get up 3-4 times per night sometimes. There are some drugs available: Myrtebriq being one of them. You might want an appt with a urologist for a consult. Training your bladder helps somewhat. Kind of like potty training a child. Drink a glass of water and jump or do a couple burpees before its time to go might help to fully empty. ( also wipe and try to go again even though you think you’re done.) sorry if TMI
I did see a urologist and they suggested drugs. I don’t like taking drugs (personal preference) so I’ll try my 6 things first and then re-evaluate how I’m doing. I am making going to the washroom a relaxing experience, so I’ll go and pee, sit there and wait a few minutes to see if I can fully relax and void vs. rushing through the experience. Thanks for for sharing your experience with this symptom!
I hear you about the drugs… I try to train my bladder but use the medicine when I feel like I have to in order to reduce stress : ie while travelling or when I don’t know where the bathrooms are. I am more symptomatic than you seem to be so I have to resort to more drastic measures but let me know if any of these natural cures help.
I had the same type of UTI infections that went to my kidneys a number of times and repeatedly sent me to the hospital just before I was diagnosed with MS in 2015. I had many tests of my water works done before my diagnosis but, they could never find anything very wrong with me. I have been getting up in the night to void for years. I too thought it was just due to childbearing issues. It’s soooo annoying. I found out I was allergic to Cipro. so they put me on another drug. I also take cranberry capsules and try to eat yogurt everyday. Sometimes I take extra acidophullis tablets just to boost the effects. So glad to know I am not alone out there. Thanks for the tips.
I’m happy to report the pee alarms on my phone reminding me to go every 2 hours is working wonders. I’ve consistently slept through the night for a month now!