Most days I feel like an Ironman. Strong, capable, energized, and fully recovered from the radical prostatectomy. Then, there are days that my body decides to remind me that I am also a fragile human.
While working in Philadelphia last week, I was feeling a little tired but didn’t want to skip the scheduled bike workout.
The hotel gym was small with one stationary bike. A model that I hadn’t ridden. It was upright with multiple seat positions. I began with an easy spin to warm up and take time to adjust the seat. As I leaned forward to make a minor adjustment I felt like I leaked a little bit. So, I decided to get up and go to the bathroom. As soon as I stood up and put my left leg on the floor, I lost control of my bladder. I looked down and watched piss stream out of my shorts, down my leg, and pool on the floor next to the bike.
I squeezed my pelvic floor muscles trying and stop the stream, but it didn’t work. No matter how hard I squeezed, the pee continued to flow until my bladder was empty. There was one woman in the gym. She was listening to music while running on the treadmill and I don’t know if she noticed what happened. That didn’t matter, I was completely embarrassed and felt gutted. Grabbing a towel, I wiped my leg off while looking at the puddle on the floor in complete disbelief.
I rushed to the hotel room aghast at the whole experience and tried to understand what happened. Over the past two years, I have experienced leaking. It typically occurs when I am fatigued and do a deep squat or bend over while seated. When it occurs, I am always able to stop the leak and make it to the bathroom without issue. This event was unique and left me feeling embarrassed and dismayed at the possibility of losing complete control again.
After eating breakfast and replaying the event over and over again, I think I understand what happened. The shape and position of the bike seat were creating a trigger point-type response in my pelvic floor muscles. Sitting with my full weight and cycling for a few minutes before standing up to reposition the seat probably caused the muscles to relax for a moment (similar to a trigger point). Since I don’t have a urinary sphincter anymore, the pelvic floor muscles are what I use to hold my bladder. So, when those muscles relaxed, there was nothing to do but watch the flow until they re-engaged.
Learning to be healthy and happy in my body involves knowing its capabilities. The embarrassment has passed and I’ve accepted this as a possible experience when I’m not mindful of my limits.