Following a brain injury, a person’s ability to control when they urinate or empty their bowels can become impaired, and for many, this loss of toilet control is a very sensitive issue.
But 51-year old Gary Younge is hoping that by talking about his own experiences, he can prove to others that continence issues are not something to be ashamed of.
Gary is bravely sharing his own account of continence issues after he began to experience problems controlling his bladder following a traumatic brain injury.
He said: “It has had a huge impact on my life post-brain injury. Most of the time, I don’t know if I’m about to go to the toilet or if I already have, the only way to find out is by looking down.”
Gary’s experiences of continence issues began earlier this year, February 2020, after he was involved in a road traffic accident. He was driving from the dentists to work when a deer ran out on the road, causing Gary to swerve.
“I travelled nearly 100 foot and hit a tree head-on,” he said. “Apparently I called the ambulance myself and was taken to A&E – but not before being breathalysed.
“Released from A&E, my wife brought me home but it wasn’t long before I was back in hospital. Eventually they ran some tests and diagnosed me with post-concussion syndrome."
Shortly after his diagnosis, Gary began to experience problems controlling his bladder.
Before my injury I hadn’t had an ‘accident’ since I was about six. Now, I’m a fully-grown adult who can’t control when he needs to go to the toilet.
“It makes me not want to leave the house. It’s awful, and there’s no warning sign that anything’s about to happen, it just does and before I know it I’m in the bathroom trying to clean myself up.
“I have noticed however that if I’m busy or pre-occupied, it’s more likely to happen. I think maybe it’s a reaction to being tired or stressed; a way of telling me that my brain isn’t functioning right and I need to rest.”
Understandably, this has had a profound impact on the rest of Gary’s life.
He said: “Although me and my wife have a very strong marriage, I hate having to tell her when I’ve had an accident. It makes me feel very embarrassed and self-conscious and I find myself wanting to cry at times.
I’m constantly having to look at the time, making sure that every hour I go to the toilet.
Despite these struggles, Gary has maintained an incredibly positive and infectious attitude to life.
He said: “For those who may be struggling with similar issues, I’d say this: ‘Do not be ashamed. This is not something to hide or feel embarrassed about, although I can understand why you may feel that way, just as I have in the past. Be honest and open with those closest to you.’”
If you are experiencing continence problems after brain injury and would like to discuss any concerns or learn more about the options available to you, then contact our national helpline on 0808 800 2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also download our factsheet, Continence problems after brain injury, from the information library or using the link below.
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