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Bladder Control and Public Transport 

This is a rather personal blog on the topic that Incontinence is no Laughing Matter.

And I certainly wasn’t laughing by the time I got off the train in Brighton and joined the queue with about 50 other women back in August 2017 when excruciatingly waiting my turn for the loo.

But I jump ahead and you need the detail to understand my plight.

Last August we headed to London to visit my daughter and her partner. Everywhere we went, we travelled by tube or the fantastic red London buses because one just doesn’t drive in London unless you are very important.

Very important person driving in London


How the rest of us get around London

Angel tube has the longest escalator in London (don’t be scared of heights)

It’s a tight fit in the tube

What is a fact is that Londoners must be very fit because you walk and walk and walk in London to get around. But with all that walking and no driving (door-to-door or toilet-to-toilet) comes the dilemma of accessing toilets. And I soon became aware that you cannot rely on the tubes and train stations to have working toilets.

Too bad if you’re busting when you see this sign at the train station

(This was all to common unfortunately) 

Now I am always naturally interested in toilets because of the work I do. But this story, as I said, is personal and it came close to getting ugly TWICE on that trip last year. In the quest of #breakingthesilence around incontinence (or the almost disastrous incontinence) I am going to tell you of my two near misses.

This day we suddenly decided to have a day trip to Brighton to walk the Seven Sisters. We were catching it from the big, beautiful, brand-spanking new London Bridge station. On the way I had succumbed to a normal coffee rather than my usual decaf but despite cutting it a bit fine for catching the train, I decided it would be safer to find a loo before hopping on that train trip to Brighton.

Brand new enormous London Bridge Train station and NO OPEN TOILETS at all…anywhere???

Ok I’ll use the ones on the train….

No toilets on the train from London to Brighton. Really wow.

No probs, I’ll just do what I teach every day at work. Use my urge control strategies- there was lots of toe curling, glut squeezing, belly breathing, leg crossing, pelvic floor activation, low tummy on, pelvic floor relaxation, tummy off, distraction, contacting friends via messenger for super distraction, then for solace and advice about what to do in the event I lost a full bladder on a train to Brighton in front of my daughter and her partner.

And then hallelujah we pulled into Brighton.

50% of the train (all females) charged the train exits and ran for the loos at the end of the station, (scenes reminiscent of the opening of the doors at the DJs sale on Boxing Day). The queue was enormous and extremely slow moving. When I got to the entrance I could see why.

For those who cannot see the print it says “Cubicle out of use”

Of the 6 toilets in there 4 were out of action. And there was a lady controlling the masses, directing all us desperate girls into the one disabled and two working toilets and banging on the doors if there was anyone too slow.

I can still to this day palpably FEEL the relief of making it that day.

The second one involved two Spritzers (I think my children called it pre-loading as 18 year olds going clubbing), an Uber and a typical London traffic jam. You don’t have to hear the details, only to say that I got lucky and made it for a second time …… just.

So the point of the story?

Urge control strategies work a treat.

Belly breathing is simply amazing.

Never drink alcohol and use public transport or Ubers.

Never, never rely on public toilets being operational in London.

Near misses are not a laughing matter either.