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CARENOTES | Past Carenotes | Let's Talk


Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 09/20/11

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 (unsuccessfully).

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 situations.


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