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I write about Change a lot because change is what helps us adapt to life’s challenges and especially those challenges that affect our continence state. My first blog on Change became the closing chapter in both my books because Change in our beliefs, habits and behaviours is often what gets us dry, clean and comfortable should we suffer urinary leakage, faecal incontinence or prolapse.

And lately Change is in the air- what with our need to change and adapt to using reusable green bags. I so love the idea about not getting 100 disposable, non-biodegradable bags a month from the shops – but I am still so bad at remembering to carry bags – not so much to Coles because that is so obvious – but to the fruit shop and the local shops I regularly get to the checkout with an armful of stuff and think “Damn forgot the green bags:-(“

With education (shows like War on Waste on the ABC) and practise (being extremely uncomfortable balancing 10 things on top of the pizza bases and then suffering the humiliation of dropping the yoghurt) we will soon get used to taking the bags everywhere or we may actually buy less groceries (which will also probably mean we may eat less food or waste less food!)

Last week I saw a lady who I had seen over the years for urinary leakage issues. She had followed everything I had asked her to try except for the caffeine part of the story. She had struggled to adjust to less caffeine or 100% decaf. She came back in recently still annoyed with her leakage – it was both stress incontinence with walking but also was insidious – sometimes with no apparent provocation. We revisited everything and I had the decaf conversation again and this time she agreed to try for 4 weeks – to come down slowly so there was less chance of a withdrawal headache and to just see if she felt it made a difference. Then it was entirely up to her whether she continued on the decaf or went back onto normal caffeinated drinks (tea and coffee).

I am very pleased to report that she came in very happy. Her problem had resolved and she had even problem-solved an issue that I hear far too often- the problem of the friends or coffee shop owners JUDGING her for choosing decaf?? I mean really who does that- judges someone for choosing decaf? There are so many reasons why someone could choose to drink decaf coffee or tea. Sleep issues, palpitations, significant anxiety issues- yes caffeine will make some people feel more anxious – and of course the reason we are talking about – urinary and/or faecal incontinence.

I asked her to write me a little paragraph about her success and you will see her clever way of getting around the “indignity” of asking for decaf.

Her blog follows….

I came to my pelvic floor physio to get help with urinary incontinence issues with walking. On my first visit she enthusiastically gave me a spiel on good bladder and bowel habits, pelvic floor exercises and lots more including the suggestion to wean off coffee. This just seemed a step too difficult. I was happy to do pelvic floor exercises, bracing, use continence aids such as a specific pessary to help with leakage, but my morning routine of exercise and coffee with friends was going to remain.

However, with ongoing persistence from her, I decided to take the plunge and go decaf. It really was not a drama at all and with my friends rolling their eyes with my “double shot decaf skim latte” order I took it upon myself to buy an environmentally reusable mug and write my order on the cup and now I just have to hand over the cup and say “the coffee” please. No problem at all(!) -and a double shot is just perfect after exercise and my bladder is also much happier.

I have even begun educating coffee baristas that really there should not be an extra cost for decaf coffee and most agree. I am extremely grateful to all the women’s health physios out there who keep persisting with us patients who are reluctant ‘decaffers’ because now my coffee and exercise mornings so much more enjoyable. J

Thanks J for taking the time to write this for me. I always encourage patients to write of their personal experiences as I find real patient stories are sometimes more powerful because they resonate more with other patients.

Now to getting a quote for a “Take your green bags” tattoo on my hand!