My father survived
prostate cancer by finally having an orchiectomy after a few
bouts with chemo and radiation. He now has the side effect
of incontinence. My mother told me the issue has become a
stressor in their life. She was nearly in tears telling me
that he had soiled his pants at bridge club and it went
through to the chair. The host (a close friend of theirs)
commented to my mom about it. At that point, I realized she
needed help in having the conversations. This is where I
thank the good Lord that my employer has required all
employees to take classes on handling delicate situations
with dignity and on various methods of directing
conversations. It has suddenly become more useful in my
private life than I’d ever imagined.
There are some moments in life you hope to never have.
They definitely include having to help your parent
(especially of the opposite gender) go to the bathroom and
having an incontinence discussion with them. Both of these
moments have recently come to pass, so not much scares me
anymore, other than losing them all together.
I thought about it long and hard. I decided it would be
important to sit my dad down in private and be sure to
emphasize the intent, not the content of the conversation.
There are several key points that needed to come through in
the conversation, so that was my focus. I started with
letting him know the conversation was not to hurt him or
diminish his ego, but because I care about him and his
future. I wanted to be candid with him because I LOVE HIM!
After all, he is my daddy and still a super hero in my eyes.
Main points: 1. I understand that it isn’t his fault. He
has a medical reason for the problem. There is no one to
blame for the problem, but he does have control over the
outcome by using security undergarments. 2. I don’t want him
to be alienated from his friends because they are all afraid
he might soil their furniture. 3. With his medical
condition, having “wet britches” could lead to rashes and
ulcers; he doesn’t have the sensation to recognize chafing
anymore. 4. I can remind him of the comments made about our
Auntie M, who always had soiled clothes. We were all
embarrassed for her, but nobody knew how to address the
issue. Why would anyone be any less empathetic toward him?
5. Today’s options are so much more comfortable and hygienic
than the ones from 10 or 20 years ago. 6. Walking around
with wet pants doesn’t fool anyone. People realize that
there is a problem and will respect him more for taking
control of the problem than trying to hide it
If anyone else is having a similar issue with a parent or
loved one, please share your wins and learning moments so we
all can grow in our understanding of how to help with these
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