August 14, 2014

Miracle on the Mall: My Incontinence Disappears!

In yesterday’s post, I described sharply increasing my fluid intake this past week. I'd learned that dehydration might be a factor in a series of recent symptoms. While outside on warm days, I'd sometimes get dizzy or feel very listless. I noticed that my blood pressure (BP) underwent sharp drops, too.

While I've only been on this hydration project a few days now, I've noticed results. The big surprise? My long-standing incontinence issues have abated dramatically. Research shows that drinking more usually means peeing less. 

Who knew? Not me.

I want to share the results of an interesting field experiment I undertook just yesterday.
A Trip to the Mall
Next April will mark the 60th anniversary of my arrival in DC, and I loved the town right from the start. I've seen dramatic changes here. It has changed from what President Kennedy termed  "a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm" to one that Forbes Magazine  put at the top of its 2014 list of America's "coolest cities."

But one thing has remained a constant -- the city's sweltering summer heat and humidity... until this year. 2014 has brought the most pleasant summer weather I can remember.

On my recent Norwegian  cruise, I found I could still get out and (slowly and at my own pace) tour cities, despite my age and advancing Parkinson's. While abroad, I resolved to get out and about more when I got home.

So yesterday -- with a pleasing forecast of temperatures in the low 80s -- I decided it was a perfect time to act on that resolution.

I've been a gardener for years. In the old days, I'd bike all over the city, and frequently stopped at the Smithsonian's Butterfly Habitat Garden on the Mall. I'd always get some new ideas for my own garden at this little hidden gem of a park sandwiched between the Natural History Museum and the Sculpture Garden. Just a block long with 2 brick paths, the park maintains a lovely collection of clearly-labeled plants and flowers.  

I thought this adventure would represent an appropriate modest start to "The old man revisits Washington." I'll share some photos tomorrow.

It was a terrific visit. I got to the garden about noon and walked all around, making notes of some plants I'd like to have. I talked with the gardener, who said they were experiencing the same phenomenon I've seen at home: many fewer butterflies this year. According to the Washington Post's gardening column, experts attribute this sad change to the extremely harsh winter of 2013-14.

I found a shady bench, relaxed, read a book, and watched the tourists. Then, as planned, I went next door to the Sculpture Garden for lunch outdoors. This cafe overlooks the fountain which becomes a skating rink each winter. After an enjoyable lunch, I grabbed a cab and arrived home by 3:30pm.

No Incontinence Worries
I was amazed! I had spent over three hours in the gardens and made only one visit to men's room -- an unhurried, anxiety-free visit at that.  

Pursuant to my new hydration regimen, I'd drunk several large glasses of fluids before leaving home. I'd placed a bottle in my pack, the contents of which I drank while reading in the garden. I'd enjoyed a bottle of water with lunch. The more fluids I drank, the less of a problem, it seems. I still find this result counter-intuitive and just hard to believe.

Like many people with incontinence, I probably got dehydrated during past tours from dialing back on fluids before venturing too far from easy access to bathrooms. 

Less Clear Progress in Dealing with Midday Sinking Spells
While the incontinence problem was greatly diminished through hydration, my energy and BP drops were not.

I hadn't packed my little wrist BP monitor (wish I had), but I did feel a mini sinking spell during the outing. On the plus side -- I never felt faint, and I comfortably moved around for three hours outside, with plenty of breaks. When I got home, I took a nap. Then I took my BP -- 105/70. I figured the systolic number had surely been below 100 earlier in the afternoon.

So progress, but not perfection. 

I'll keep the hydration project going, and I'll talk to my neurologist about it next week. Meanwhile, I wonder if I really need the Gatorade or Powerade. Those drinks are designed for people who sweat a lot during sports activities, in order to replace lost electrolytes. That's certainly not my issue. Maybe just drinking plenty of plain old water would do the trick for me. 

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