The loss of urinary control following prostate surgery involves more than learning how to live in diapers. Few men are given adequate warning or preparation regarding the emotional aspects of coping with urinary incontinence. Here are a few of the unpleasant and life-changing feelings I experienced during my three months of living in diapers:
Embarrassment, by definition is an emotional state of intense discomfort with oneself, experienced when having a socially unacceptable act or condition witnessed by or revealed to others.
I was embarrassed in the presence of other people. Knowing that I was wearing a diaper was enough to make me feel different. When it was necessary for me to change my diaper in a public restroom, I wouldn’t come out of the stall until the restroom was empty. I didn’t want anyone to see me holding or throwing away my urine-filled diaper.
Shame is the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.
Leaking through my diaper in public places was one of the most painful and humiliating events I’ve experienced in my lifetime. For one month I refused to leave home, or see any friends. I isolated myself from the world.
Regressed is the psychological sense of a return to an earlier stage of life.
This isn’t a feeling, but a state of mind. I felt like a big baby in diapers. I looked at myself with contempt. The idea of being affectionate with my wife, engaging in sex, or acting in manly ways completely vanished.
Disgusted is feeling extreme dislike or disapproval of something.
I hated leaking urine all the time. I was like a spigot that wouldn’t turn off. I hated myself and I hated my life. The only place I felt comfortable was in the shower. It was the only place where I could relax, feel refreshed, and take a break from all the negative feelings I had about leaking urine.
Depressed is a serious condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant, and often is unable to live in a normal way.
As I looked to the future, I imagined I living in diapers for an endless period of time. I hated the quality of my life. I felt sorry that I treated my prostate cancer with surgery. I wished I had died on the operating table.
Don’t be surprised by the many negative feelings you may experience when you lose urinary control. My wife said something to me that radically changed my perspective. She invited me to think of myself as a warrior in battle against cancer. Living in diapers was a battle scar. By thinking of myself as a warrior, I was no longer dealing with regression. I was a man coping with a man's disease. I learned the necessary skills to manage in diapers.
Few men are told that losing urinary control is an emotionally challenging event. Now you know!
This blog was originally posted at Prostate Cancer News Today.