I never thought this could happen to me.
The chronic urinary tract infections, the painful bladder, the unpredictable menopausal symptoms, the runaway thyroid and adrenals, the weight gain and yes, the bladder control problems.
These are my words, my story, my journey, my transformation.
Here I was just entering my 50s and I felt like my body was failing me. Up until then, I considered myself a healthy woman with a fulfilling life and professional career. Someone who only went to a licensed clinician for routine woman checkups.
The irony of being a Nurse Practitioner Continence Specialist who developed chronic urinary tract infections and subsequent bladder control problems stung the hardest.
I was supposed to be the clinical expert. Women came to me for their bladder control problems.
I had become my own most complicated patient.
It took me years to crawl out of that dark, dark hole.
I went from physician to physician looking for answers. I stared at piles of supplements meant to help me get healthy and I cried.
And then I researched, and I networked with other health professionals, and I researched some more.
I refused to see and accept myself as this sick and unhealthy person. I refused, I got angry and even more determined to heal myself, knowing that I am stronger than whatever this invisible illness would throw in my path.
Yes, the invisible illness.
Except for the weight gain from being hypothyroid, no one knew what I was going through. No one really knew why I canceled social events. Why I didn’t want my photo taken. Why I often did not have the energy to do simple activities.
And why sometimes I did not change my behaviors that I knew I needed to change in order to heal myself.
With the help of functional medicine physicians and other healers, I am much healthier now but I still have a long road to travel to heal.
I’ve not been on a straight healing path but rather a path with many mountains and valleys.
I’ve made myself feel bad because I often strayed from what I knew was necessary for me to regain my health. At the time, I couldn’t tell you why I did this, I just did it.
I dug in deep to explore my feelings and confront my behaviors.
It was only then that I felt like I was able to truly heal.
As I was staying more consistently on my healing path, I started to reflect on my journey. I’ve always been a believer that situations and obstacles are put in our path for a reason.
To learn, to grow and to help others on similar paths.
I knew from my clinical practice with women with bladder control problems that pelvic floor therapy and lifestyle changes significantly improved, and for many, reversed their bladder control problems. Especially if the bladder control problems were addressed early on.
But I also knew that there are many women, who for whatever their reasons, just could not make the necessary changes to get their best possible healthy bladder and self.
These women would often start off experiencing good results from their clinical sessions with me but would stop doing the home pelvic floor therapy exercises or would not want to address some of the other factors contributing to their bladder control problems.
Was it their lack of motivation? Did they not have the knowledge to understand how important these changes are in order to get a healthy bladder and self?
Why wouldn’t they want to do everything possible to stop their bladder leaks?
Ambivalence to change.
I experienced something similar during my healing journey. I just wasn’t in a place to know what to call it.
A person’s ambivalence to change is the key factor that stops them from making changes.
Changes they know they need to make.
I began to realize that as a healer, in order to help women to heal and truly change, to experience lifelong change, I needed to meet them where they are and understand them within their social context.
I realized that I am merely the change agent.
That I can help them to recognize their ambivalence to change and guide them to make space for their transformation, but the power to make these changes lies solely within them and no one else.
This means that although each woman is experiencing similar bladder control problems, they are all unique individuals with their own stories and paths.
She may be a hard-working professional in her 30's, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s.
She may be raising children or taking care of her elderly parents or special needs child.
She may be taking college courses to advance herself.
She may be starting a new career.
She may be active in community affairs.
She may be entering perimenopause or menopause.
She may be with or without a partner or friends to support her.
She may be a combination of any of the above. So many different stories; so many different paths.
Why I am now a health coach.
I realized that within the constraints of a traditional clinical health care practice, I just could not provide the clinical care and the health coaching that I believe is needed to guide and support women with bladder control problems towards healthy change.
I realized that there is already an abundant amount of clinical information and resources to help women with bladder control problems but there were few if any health coaching resources specific to bladder control problems in women.
I realized that helping women attain their best possible healthy bladder involves so much more than just focusing on their bladder.
I realized that a holistic mind ~ body ~ spirit approach is key to helping women get back control of their bladder and their life.
I realized that guiding women as a nurse continence specialist and health coach to create space for their transformation, and helping to empower themselves through empathetic and compassionate support, produces the greatest success in helping them to achieve their best possible healthy bladder and self.
So here I am with my open heart, how may I help you?
Let's get this conversation started now and end the stigma surrounding bladder control problems in women.
On a Personal Note
I currently reside just outside of Austin, Texas with my husband Pat and our two rescue pups Osito and Zoe.
I'm an avid traveler and adventurer who enjoys experiencing new and different cultures.
For a short time, my husband and I lived in Panama, Central America where we flipped an old coffee farm into a high producing organic coffee farm and lived off the land by growing vegetables in our commercial size greenhouse, raised chickens and turkeys, and designed a hydroponic growing system and an aquaponics system using both trout and tilapia.
I learned how to grow, harvest and process moringa and made capsules that were sold by the local acupuncturist to his patients for pain management.
During our time in Panama, we became very close with a Ngabe family who came to live and work on our farm. Our experience interacting with this family was priceless.
We continue to keep in contact with them and financially support them by paying for their children's education. Their youngest, Eunice, is now attending a private school. This is unheard of that a Ngabe child would ever attend a private school. She is the future for this family.
We have a RV motorhome that we named Breakin' Wind. My husband outfitted it with solar panels and we boondock in remote areas within the USA where we live off the grid for short periods of time. I enjoy this time to be still and connect with the land around us.
In 2017, we traveled to Madras Oregon in our RV to experience our first solar eclipse. In many ways, this was a spiritual awakening for me and I became clearer about my path as a health coach.
I've been a scuba diver since 1996. I've experienced the beauty of the world below us. My husband also became certified and he captures these precious moments with his camera.
My husband and I are active in our local animal shelter where we volunteer our time to help find furever homes for the dogs and cats.
We're always thinking up new adventures.
How I Got Here
Master of Science in Nursing, School of Nursing, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Advance Practice Registered Nurse.
Board Certified Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
National Association for Continence, Project Advisory Council.
Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates (SUNA), Task Force Writing Group, co-author “Advanced Practice Continence Nurse in Long Term Care: Scope and Standards of Practice.
Advanced training: Hands-On Biofeedback for Complex Pelvic Floor Cases.
Advanced training: Biofeedback Evaluation and Treatment for Elimination Disorders and Pelvic Floor Disorders.
Master of Science in Health Informatics, School of Health Information Sciences (Biomedical Informatics), University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, School of Nursing, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
Bachelor of Science in Psychology, East Stroudsburg State College, PA.
Certified Health Coach, National Society of Health Coaches. Clinical Model of Evidence-based Health Coaching (EBHC)®.
Healing Circles Global Facilitator and Trainer.
There's more about my professional career here on LinkedIn
If my story resonates with you and your struggle with bladder control problems and you'd like to see if my Your HealthyBladderSolutions Program TM is a fit with you, schedule a free discovery call to explore the possibilities.
If you're not ready for a discovery call, join me on my Facebook page to keep in touch and sign up below to receive periodic updates about the program and special offers.
Whatever you choose, I wish you well on your path to healing. Know that I am here for you.