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Martin, 52

“Having to go every half hour. Is that normal?”

I have no idea when it started. I must have unconsciously denied it for some time. The thought never crossed my mind. And when it did. I still denied it. Incontinence? Come on! That’s what old men have. That’s not me. Never. But having to go every half hour. Is that normal? In the beginning I had rational explanations. I’ve had too much coffee. I had beer last night. It’s really cold outside. But when I also started to leak after having been to the restroom, it became obvious that I had to be practical about it.

At first I just used tissue paper in my underwear. It was only a few drops so I could manage until the next time I went. But after a while I started to use my wife’s maxi pads. They were self-adhesive and stayed put in my underwear, but couldn’t absorb very much. And I worried about the smell.

The situation made me more and more self-conscious and my self-esteem suffered. I started to withdraw from my wife. I made sure we went to bed at different hours. Being intimate was out of the question.

Finally I found the strength to tell her. And it changed everything. But not in the way I thought it would. I’m not sure what I had expected. Maybe that she would be repelled, or think less of me as a man. But the first thing she told me was that she was relieved that I wasn’t having an affair. Ha! Can you believe that? This has actually brought us closer to each other. Having someone to talk to made all the difference in the world.

She suggested I see a doctor, who gave me a physical exam and tested me for prostate cancer. Negative. He recommended exercise and bladder training and gave me guards, especially designed for men. I have a package in the medicine cabinet now and they are definitely more comfortable than maxi pads.

Still I struggle with it every day. When I feel the urge to go, all my brain capacity is used to think about where I can find the nearest restroom or even the nearest bush. Everything else ceases to exist. People must be wondering when I suddenly just “disappear” and can’t be contacted.

But at least I know there is a way out, even if it took me some time to find it.