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Incontinence Support Blog

DO NOT FEAR, GET IN GEAR

Posted by Caleb Bartlett

Mar 28, 2017 1:27:35 PM

These days it seems like every news outlet, social media platform, and Lord knows what else is buzzing with speculation over what is going to happen with healthcare. Will they abolish Medicaid? What will happen with Medicare? Will disability benefits be cut? These are tough things to consider. Many people are concerned, some even terrified what will happen to them if these things become a reality, and understandably so. I certainly understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, the situation is vast and complex. There are many, many people who simple can’t work, can’t care for themselves… maybe you are reading this and you are caregiver or family member of someone who is the victim of stroke or brain trauma. What can you do?

If history has proven anything it is that in times of great change and upheaval if people will push aside fear and work together they can find a way. The answers to the troubles of our nation and the planet are not to be found in fighting each other out of fear, but coming together in peace to fight the fear itself. Take heart reader, you are not alone. Do you need a steady, work-from-home income? Get online, read, improve yourself. Find out what is out there. Depend on yourself, not Uncle Sam. Do you have health issues that are largely diet-based? Make some changes and reduce your dependence on costly medications. Maybe you have paralysis or a similar condition, express your concerns to your doctor, connect with others like you in your community and as a group seek out an attorney who specializes in disabled rights. Maybe you live in a rural area and have a few acres of land. Get involved with the slow food and local food movements in your area. Start providing healthy food for those with greater disabilities. Speak to your local politicians. Who knows… you could start a grassroots community movement that could change the face of healthcare forever.

I believe in people. I believe in the strength and goodness of the human spirit. On the other hand, I do not believe in fairy tales or castles in the sky. Real change takes real action, and action takes work. Don’t let the years of physical difficulty take away your will and determination. I hope this message encouraged you. I believe one day in the near future I will get a headline across my news feed that reads, “Man in wheelchair redefines medical coverage for millions”.

Thanks for reading.

Topics: Spinal Cord Injury with Caleb, Guest Blogs, incontinence

Holistic Kidney Health

Posted by Caleb Bartlett

Feb 22, 2017 3:43:45 PM

 As a survivor of spinal cord injury for almost twenty-three years I have been blessed with very good kidney health. Sadly, many of those in a similar situation have not been as fortunate. I recognize that not all conditions have the same cause and not everyone reading this may have a spinal cord injury, but considering that most of the readers of this blog are using or are affiliated with the Men’s Liberty product in some way kidney health was a good topic to tackle. Kidney health starts with hydration. With the constant availability of soft drinks, energy drinks, teas, and other beverages filled with sugar and sugar substitutes that tease our brain’s pleasure centers it’s easy to think we are hydrating when we aren’t. This month I am going to give a few simple (and cost-effective) methods to hydrate properly and prolong the life and cleanliness of your kidneys. 

If you have ever cleaned the filter on a fish tank or air conditioner you know how the smallest particles can build to a nasty mess over time. As you go about your daily life the blood pumped through your body not only carries nutrients, but removes the impurities that are rejected by cells to maintain health. Bacteria, uric acid, heavy metals, salts, and other toxins make their way to the kidneys where they are filtered, drained into the bladder, and washed away when you urinate. When the body lacks the proper balance of fresh water the blood and kidneys must work harder to push those toxins out. Think about it… what moves faster through a straw, a milkshake or, well… water? So how do you get a proper hydration cycle?
  1. Give your kidneys a much-needed break. Oftentimes we are conscious about what we eat, but not what we drink. Read the label. Sugar, aspartame, artificial flavors, sweeteners, and chemicals you can’t pronounce should be removed from your diet. Coffee and tea are acidic and the caffeine they contain will dehydrate you regularly.
  2. Drink natural things. Water, herbal teas, freshly juiced fruits and veggies. If you have been diagnosed with sand in your kidneys water with lemon and cranberry juice low in sugar regularly will help greatly.
  3. Observe your body. When do you urinate most during the day? If you have paralysis, does your sitting position or laying down effect how you urinate? Do you have difficulty when it’s very hot or very cold? Share this with your doctor.
  4. Watch what you eat. Eat simple foods. Find healthy proteins and vegetables and stop fast food and snack foods like chips and cookies.
  5. Move around. Avoid a sedentary existence as much you possibly can. Get your blood pumping and moving those impurities from your body.
Kidney infections are nothing to play around with. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you need to make a lifestyle change, do it. Sure, that sugar-sweet soft drink tastes good and gives a happy feeling, but isn’t a long life and good health better that a few moments of satisfied taste buds? Best of luck, and take care of your body.

Thanks for reading.

Topics: doctors visit, urinary tract infections, Guest Blogs, incontinence, Kidney Health

Medical Journaling – Part 1

Posted by Phoebe Ezell

Sep 15, 2016 2:19:28 PM

Recently a good friend of Men’s Liberty was in the hospital with a life-threatening infection.  As with most hospital visits, it was extremely stressful on his caregiver…  Me.

While he underwent emergency surgery and recovery, I realized – it was left up to me to be his health advocate.  I found myself talking with all the doctors and nurses assigned to him, trying to take notes on what was happening every day; the daily doctor’s instructions, if they changed; what all the machinery was that was connected to him, and what was being poured into his body.

The one additional element I didn’t record was how he was feeling.  And that was only because he couldn’t verbally communicate with a vent tube down his throat!  It was the quietest he has ever been in his lifetime!

For the most part I have all my notes on one notepad, but I also have them jotted on paper napkins, the back of grocery receipts and whatever other loose pieces of paper I would dig from my bag to take notes.

Keeping these notes allowed me to clearly share the majority of each day’s events with all of our family and friends.  Those notes also now act as a mnemonic device for me as I share with him the sequence of events that he was clueless to, as he was in an induced coma.

I became his memory of that time period.  I had often witnessed my father saying that about my mother as they negotiated the V.A. medical system.  She is his memory.  Now I had a lot better understanding.

With today’s healthcare systems so very complicated, I now wonder how people navigate them alone.  And as it keeps getting more and more specialized and intricate, the need for a “memory keeper” is key.

These are my steps for being proactive with your own medical care and keeping a medical journal:

First, start with a notebook or notepad.  Nothing fancy, but simple to utilize, by keeping your notes in one place.  Making it a really bright color makes easier for you or your caregiver to find it in an emergency.  Your medical records and notes should be the only thing you put in this notebook.

There is no right or wrong way in organizing your notebook.  It is all about creating a system that works for you.  You should be able to access the information that is important to you.

Remember that I said I took notes on receipts, napkins, etc.  Instead of transcribing them, I simply taped them into my journal.  In other words – NO RULES.

In addition, if you are incapacitated, the journal allows others to have access to what you are currently experiencing and monitoring with your health.

So that brings us to “What to put in your notebook.”

  • Record your pharmacist. They have an electronic record of all the prescriptions you fill with them. If you have more than one, make a note of their phone numbers and addresses too.
  • Record any information related to all of your doctors. Include their phone numbers and addresses. Make it easy for someone else to know who you are dealing with.

  • Record some of your basic health information as well. Start with simple statistics like your DOB (Date of Birth), weight and height, blood type and your typical blood pressure, if you know it.
  • Record any medications you take on a regular basis. Remember to record if you have any reactions to your medication. When recorded, it’s also easier to remember to discuss it with your doctor on your next visit.
  • Record prior illnesses, surgeries and injuries. These events may play an important role in your long-term health. It’s very easy to forget major medical events when you are directly asked by a doctor. Talk about a brain freeze, or even a “Senior Moment.” OMG - I forgot that I had a car crash that I had with a semi-truck in my youth. That accident may have affected my neck and spinal pain later as an adult. And who forgets getting run over by a semi-truck?!

I use to have migraines and then started a “headache journal.”  I used a simple date book.  I could record the date it happened, the type and level of pain (from 0 to 10), where it was in my head, how long it lasted, and anything else that was happening in my body (nausea, etc.).

I also looked at my life and what was happening in it.  Things like what I was eating and how I was feeling that day.  Eventually, I saw a pattern and could address the source, not just the pain.

Hopefully, this gives you some ideas to begin your own personal medical journal.  And perhaps it will spur some discussions with your spouse, family members and friends.  They need to know you’re being proactive with your health – and by telling them, they’ll know where to look to find your journal in the event of an unfortunate tragedy.

Begin taking the steps to create your medical journal now!!  In a while, I’ll share some more tips related to this subject!

We also want to acknowledge that this month is National Spinal Cord Awareness Month. Men's Liberty has some wonderful blogs on Spinal Cord Injuries, including blog postings from Caleb, so look around and read these wonderful posts!

Topics: spinal cord injury, Health Literacy, Guest Blogs

Renting a Home from a Chair

Posted by Caleb Bartlett

Aug 16, 2016 4:36:16 PM

My family and I recently went through a rather difficult, yet educational experience. For the first time since my injury I was jointly responsible for a home. By the this I mean my name was on the lease. Many of us in chairs often live with family, some us received a settlement and bought a home, but there are those of us making a go of it out there in world living in a place we do not own. This means Landlords and that can be good, or really bad.

Last year my family and I moved to a new state to start a business. We had trained, saved, and searched for the right opportunity as well as the property. We planned to run a home-based food business and so infrastructure and amenities were equally important as accessibility. We finally found what we wanted and in a flurry of activity we signed a lease, packed, and moved. So as not to bog down this post with the gory details I’ll get to the point… the Landlord was dishonest and breached the lease causing us to lose a years’ worth of hard work, money, and ultimately we had to get a lawyer. Now ultimately our case stands on its own for anyone leasing a home, but in our effort to educate ourselves about our rights I learned a few things I felt it might be worth it to pass on to you. So here’s a few tips...

Make friends with a Lawyer. I’m serious. Attorneys get paid for their time and do get expensive, but the $150-$250 to have them read through a lease agreement could save you thousands on down the road. If you’re in a chair there are many pro bono disability rights services that can at least advise you on such matters before you sign anything. If you have a friend or family member who is an attorney don’t assume favors, be honest about what you can afford, tell them what you need, and offer them something for their time.

Don’t be in a hurry. If you are even remotely considering moving start looking now. Give yourself time. When you rush you settle for second best and a lease can be a difficult thing to get out of.

Don’t be impressed and don’t believe the pictures. Anything can look great with a coat of paint. If you are limited physically take someone with you who can look at the attic, the crawl spaces, the plumbing, and under the cabinets. Have them check for rot, mold, leaks, pests, and anything that could be unsafe or a fire hazard.

Be specific with the Landlord about your needs. Educate yourself about disabled tenant’s rights. There’s a lot of them and they’re in your favor. There are many resources online. However, be kind and polite. Explain your daily routine and how the space does or does not work, and what you can do to change it. Educate yourself on all the accessibility aides that are modular and can save them money. They will appreciate that.

Ask for references and do your homework. They will want references from you, expect no less from them. If you can, speak to previous renters, other current tenants, employees, or other professional connections. Listen and watch their reactions, it will tell you a lot.

Get it in writing, get it in writing, GET IT IN WRITING. Protect yourself now and you won’t have to fight later. If the lease is vague, get it rewritten in clear language. Know exactly what you are responsible for and what you are not. If you need special wording due to the wheel chair be honest and say what you want.

Life in a chair can be a daily challenge. Knowledge is power and can ease the stress of so many unnecessary battles. Living independently is a great blessing and gift that many don’t get to enjoy. The more of us who get out there and make it the norm the more landlords will make more and more properties accessible.

Thanks for reading.

Topics: family, wheelchair, Patient Stories, Guest Blogs, how to

MEN’S LIBERTY: A GIFT OF CONFIDENCE

Posted by Sam Turner

Jun 1, 2016 9:54:49 AM

The three of us (Sara, Phyllis and Sam) drove to La Posada in Green Valley, south of Tucson, on May 26th. We had two birthdays to celebrate with fellow cancer survivors, all survivors of one form or another...Leukemia, Colon, Prostate, Basel Cell Melanoma, gathering for a celebration of Phyllis and Sara’s birthdays and the sheer joy of being together.

Our hosts, Margaret Ann, Tim, and Doug, have resided in La Posada about ten years. The grounds consist of medical facilities, independent and assisted living and memory care -- Seven hundred residents on over one-hundred acres of oasis, complete with Butterfly, Japanese, Meditation, (even) vegetable gardens, Pecan groves and a Labyrinth centered with the music of an air harp.

We met at Posada Java for coffee to get acquainted since we had not met Tim (Doug and Margaret Ann’s son). They had not met fellow writer, Sara. So the six of us enjoyed gift giving in the patio shade. We gave Doug and Margaret Ann a case of Negra Modelo. We celebrated Doug’s return from a week in the hospital.  All is well!

After coffee, we rode a tram to their quiet apartment where we shared individual survival stories.

Sara.jpgSince October 2015, Sara has gone through intensive, aggressive chemo treatment for Leukemia. I’m happy to report she’s in remission and June will be her last month of infusion therapy. July, she gifts herself by trailering to the cool climate of Washington State to return to Arizona in November thereby making her an official snowbird.  

 

 

Doug.jpgNow in his tenth decade, Doug survived thirty-three bombing missions over Germany as a tail gunner in a B-17.  He also survived teaching middle school children(!) and finished his career as vice-principal of Cholla High School in Tucson! Oh, and he survived Colorectal cancer.

Margaret Ann is the poet/writer/recorder of her family history. She and Tim put this whole venture together.

 

Tim.jpgTim provided gifts of chocolate cakes for the two Birthday girls…

Sam.jpgSam and Phyllis (She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed) at La Posada. Had this been two years ago while I was using absorbents-- and leaking continuously -- I wouldn’t have considered going on this trip for fear of leaking.  I would have missed out on the gathering.  I would have missed out on the two chocolate birthday cakes. However, on this day, I was confident that my Men’s Liberty external catheter would handle any “accidents”.  The catheter didn’t let me down.  So you see: This seems like just a normal little vacation trip.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Nothing, that is until we’ve shared our survival stories. Then, we share our gifts of each other knowing just how precious our lives are…

A special thanks to Men’s Liberty’s Research and Development for a product that allows me to participate in festivities! Wendy, Lynette, Tony: I include you as part of my extended family.

Topics: Guest Blogs

Beer and Incontinence (Cont.)

Posted by Sam Turner

May 24, 2016 3:52:23 PM

I know you have been wondering about the results of April’s “test”. The Jury is still out. I’ve tasted eight new brands.  So far, I’ve run across a couple that I would order again:  Negra Modelo and Pacifico.  I can see that this will take some more testing.  Some of you more experienced tasters might suggest brands that are similar, now that you know what I like. Let me know, and I’ll give them a try.

I can’t blame the incontinence on the beer.  As a matter of fact, I enjoyed the glass of Negra Modelo and didn’t have to drain my unit until I arrived home (two miles away).  Moving from a restaurant booth to my car seat usually starts a flood of activity, regardless.

This brings me to a serious problem: car seats that are hot…one hundred plus degrees hot!  Even with a shade pulled across the windshield, when our car is parked in a lot (with or without tree shade or a wall shadow), the inside temperature can escalate to well above one hundred degrees. Plastic sunglasses left on the dashboard will melt to uselessness. A towel draped over the steering wheel helps from burning the hands.  But, the driver’s seat is always hot. That’s Tucson in the summer!

“Quick, turn on the A/C!”

Back in the days when I wore absorbents that warm/hot seat meant instant draining through the pad, my cargo pants and onto the seat. That is no longer the case.  I can have an empty unit, sit down and my bladder will fill the bag in fifteen seconds.  What then? I’ve been known to step behind a tree.  (Emergencies cause creative actions.) Results? No wet clothes or car seat and the plants can use the nitrogen.

I had cause to speak to a mixed group of senior citizens on the importance of drinking water. I spoke of my eighty-three-year-old mother who hated wearing diapers and, without our knowing it, cut down her water consumption to the point that her electrolytes stopped functioning, which contributed to her death!

Where women may not yet have the choice and must resort to absorbents, men have a choice: absorbents or catheters. I’ve been wearing Men’s Liberty external catheter for over a year. The BioDerm company provides an excellent training program for application and use of the units.  Another benefit is that Medicare pays for Men’s Liberty external catheters; Medicare does not pay for diapers or absorbents that you purchase from your local drugstore.

"The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder." - Alfred Hitchcock -

That’s the main advantage of Men’s Liberty:  No worry!

Topics: tips from Men's Liberty users, Guest Blogs, incontinence

Get A Job

Posted by Caleb Bartlett

Apr 21, 2016 11:08:00 AM

Today’s job market is highly competitive. No longer having a college degree guarantees success in the workplace. With more and more jobs going overseas or becoming specialized finding employment can be difficult for able-bodied people, never mind the thousands of folks with physical limitations. Furthering your education can be time-consuming and cost-prohibitive as well. How do those of us already battling labels and physical impediments rise above and meet our needs?

In my experience of living in a chair for 22 years the greatest hindrance I have found to financial success is self-consciousness and self-doubt. Many people who are different let the media or the status quo or even doctors determine what they are worth or capable of, but the real truth is that the only person who can decide that for you is you. These kinds of deep, personal changes don’t come overnight and require a great deal of effort, but while you are working on success from the inside I have  a handful of practical steps you can take towards personal financial stability.

  1. Know your strengths. Are you a good communicator? Are you comfortable on the phone? Maybe you are good with numbers, or you’re more of a “big idea” person? Do you love animals or children? What are you passionate about? Knowing your strong points will build confidence and give you grounding when going through interviews and promoting yourself. Don’t be afraid to make a list!
  2. Think outside the box. Everybody needs something and you just might be their answer. There is great liberty in being your own boss. With tools like the internet and social media running your own business in a professional and powerful way has never been more easy than it is today. Find your niche and exploit it!
  3. Know your stuff. We have access to more information than any other generation in history. Books online, college courses, even YouTube! Don’t stop reading and studying. It is said that 1 hour of reading a day will make one an expert in their given field in 7 years. Companies spend millions of dollars each year on consultants to improve their chances of success. Imagine getting paid just to talk! Knowledge is a precious commodity, stock up on it.
  4. The Government is not your source. Use those special programs and disability benefits as a means to an end. Use the money wisely and work on a strategy over 5-10 years to reduce your dependence on Federal help. You’re not a ward of the state, you’re a valuable, contributing member of society. Start cultivating that view today.
  5. Clean out your financial closet. Get your money and banking organized. No matter how broke you may be! Keep accurate records and set a budget. If you have bad debt or credit card debt consider consolidation or a doable repayment strategy. Reduce unnecessary expenditures like unhealthy snack foods, cigarettes, alcohol, video games, and other non-productive pastimes. Set aside 5% of your monthly income for savings.
  6. Volunteer. This is your chance to get out make connections. Strut your stuff. Find something you’re passionate about and donate your time. You never know the connections you will make and the opportunities that will open up to you. If they see what you do for free, they will know what you can do with money.
  7. Don’t be afraid of “No”. Pick yourself up and move on. If they don’t see your value you don’t want to work there anyway. Plain and simple. 

Go forth and prosper and don’t be afraid. You can determine your future, and let nothing stand in your way.

That’s the main advantage of Men’s Liberty:  No worry!

Topics: tips from Men's Liberty users, Guest Blogs, incontinence

From Scotch to Craft Beer and Incontinence

Posted by Sam Turner

Apr 13, 2016 10:03:08 AM

Welcome back friends!

I’m not a drinker -  However, back when I was thirty, I found some magazine that listed the twenty best scotches. (If it had been the twenty best bourbons, I would have tried them.)   I went to my doctor friend and said, “I’d like to become a social drinker, but I don’t want to get drunk or have hangovers. What should I do?”

“Sam, don’t take mixed drinks.  Drink it straight with water back.  Also have a bowl of oatmeal or buttermilk, before you go.  Then order one scotch and nurse it all night.”

I took my list and a 3x5 card and wrote down the brands that I liked.  I settled on Johnny Walker Black. I would have taken Glenlivet but it was too hard to find.  I didn’t go for the oatmeal prep, but I did start out with buttermilk. I drank scotch for about five years. I didn’t get drunk or pass out.  (There was one time when we had friends over and I broke my rule: I decided to drink Margaritas from a beer stein.  My doctor was correct: By the second stein, I passed out.)  Other than that one time I didn’t have hangovers.  Then one day, I stopped.  Just stopped running in that kind of social circle.  The scotch bottles stayed in the cupboard for three or four years.  Never touched it and sold the whole box of five or six bottles at a yard sale for five dollars. I gave up scotch, but I acquired a liking for buttermilk!    

Fast forward fifty years.  In my eighth decade, I have decided to step outside the box again. A Tucson newspaper mentioned several craft breweries within our area.  Did you know there is something called a “flight”?  This is a way to taste different beers.  (I wonder if one can move up to a “Squadron”?)  Anyway, after I have decided the type of craft beer I like, I am expected to drink at the least, one glass. And no, I haven’t made up my mind. There, my friends, is the problem:  Beer causes one to pee. Unless you want to become a multi-absorbent-wearing di-dee doll, beer will go right through you. The solution is the Men’s Liberty External Catheter. In the winter, with long pants, a Men’s Liberty leg bag is perfect. But in the summer with temperatures in the 100ºs, shorts are called for.   The “regular” size will be fine. It means more trips to the rest room, but the exercise is good.

For those who may wonder: She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed will be the driver!

To be continued…

That’s the main advantage of Men’s Liberty:  No worry!

Topics: tips from Men's Liberty users, Guest Blogs, incontinence

Take a Walk Without Worry!

Posted by Sam Turner

Mar 9, 2016 3:36:00 PM

Welcome back friends!

Suddenly, it’s not Winter anymore!   We are running about 12 -20º above normal, which means we will be in the low eighties for March.  Our desert plants think it’s Spring!  Everything is blooming.  This is good walking weather. We like early morning walks while it’s still cool.

All we have to do is watch out for rattlesnakes, bears, javelinas and mountain lions!  Desert creatures enjoy the change in temperature.  The Sun comes up a little earlier each morning and the snakes come out. 

We can spend an hour walking and enjoying the view!

Walking allows one the freedom to think.  Or, if you walk with a partner, there’s a chance for conversation and sharing our discoveries, observations and thoughts.  I know these pictures may not look like desert, but, believe me: we are in the desert.  Another month and the heat rises. Because it is important to keep hydrated, we always carry water with us.  Restrooms are conveniently located along the trails. Wearing a Men’s Liberty External Catheter allows for a long walk in one of our parks to be a joy, without having to worry about leaking. 

That’s the main advantage of Men’s Liberty:  No worry!

Topics: tips from Men's Liberty users, Guest Blogs, incontinence

On Compassion and Being Helpful

Posted by Sam Turner

Feb 12, 2016 1:39:00 PM

When we were raising our four children, my wife became regional director for La Leche League International.  Her goal was helping mothers succeed with breastfeeding.    A doctor friend of ours and I spoke on the advantages of Husband Coached Childbirth. We also stressed the importance of the father supporting the nursing mothers.

 In 1997, with the death of our youngest son, Rob, we became members and (eventually) leaders of our local Chapter of The Compassionate Friends, helping parents who have experienced the death of a child.

Now that we are hearing impaired, we belong to ALOHA (Adult Loss of Hearing Association) a support group dedicated to helping people better understand what they can do to help themselves as they move into a world of silence.

The operative word throughout our lives has been helping.

I am impressed with Men’s Liberty’s video presentations of helpful issues.  The company is sincere in their compassion. And why should they not be?  Wendy speaks from the heart… Not once have I felt like she was "pushing" their product just to improve sales.  That is what I meant when I said (some months ago) that if I helped one person, it would be worth it. The staff is dedicated to helping men have an easier life with their incontinence. How many women do you know who speak openly and frankly about helping men understand the problems with incontinence?

When I received my first set of Men’s Liberty External Catheters, I was not inclined to discuss them with anyone, not even my wife. However, I wrote to members of the company with questions. The staff of Men’s Liberty, from Customer Care Representative Tony, to Wendy, to Sarah have all been prompt in responding to my concerns. They are truly dedicated to helping their clients.  

That’s what this corporate family is all about: helping us stay healthy by continually providing up-to-date information on current issues.  For me, it started out by switching from absorbents to external catheters.  Most recently, it is Wendy’s one hundredth video blog: Sneaky Causes of Urinary Tract Infections. Some of the information might surprise you. 

As Wendy says: “Stay healthy.”

~Sam

Topics: external catheter for men, Guest Blogs, compassion