A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Dr. Phil’s people. According to the person who contacted me, they were shopping me to see if I’d be a good candidate for an upcoming show about female urinary incontinence.
Not that I’m biased or anything, but I know I would be a great guest on this topic. I’m an RN who has worked in women’s healthcare for over 20 years; I’ve personally struggled with the problem; I’ve done a shit ton of research about it; and I’ve subjected myself to several of the various available treatment options (medication, physical therapy, hormone replacement therapy, and ultimately surgery) in my efforts to alleviate my own urinary incontinence problems.
Call me. Maybe?
But despite allowing myself to go through an extensive interview process that included an invasive questionnaire about my personal life, including my mental health history–up to and including the name of my physician and my prescribed dosage of Wellbutrin–and what the fuck my Wellbutrin dosage has to do with female bladder issues I have no idea–I didn’t hear anything back. Then I got a call from The Doctors about appearing on their show for the same topic. Again, nothing came of it, but I was flattered to be noticed.
Bloggers are always flattered to be noticed which is why we’re so damned easy to exploit. We’re all but lying here with our metaphorical legs spread apart begging for it. It’s so hard not to because if you don’t let them use you then they’ll use someone else, and YOU’LL MISS OUT.
Use Me. I’m Yours.
Then HuffPo Live contacted me to come on and talk about bladder leakage. Well, getting on HuffPo Live after being passed over by Dr. Phil is like being asked to the prom by the guy from band who wears headgear instead of the football captain, but at least somebody is asking you to dance. Right?
In my invitation, I was told I’d be a guest with Sheryl Underwood. Now, truth be told, I don’t watch The View or The Talk, so the name Sheryl Underwood didn’t register. In fact, here’s how stupid I am, I thought she was a doctor because the last time I was on HuffPo Live talking about a health problem (Seasonal Affective Disorder) I was on with Dr. Norman Rosenthal, the doctor who first described S.A.D. and pioneered the use of light therapy to treat it. I figured it was something like that again. I admit I didn’t look too closely (or at all).
Anyway, I know I should have looked her up, but I didn’t. That part’s on me. I didn’t know she’s a talk show celebrity, and not an expert on urinary incontinence.
But what I also didn’t know is that Sheryl Underwood is the new spokesperson for Depends®, and that Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Depends®, just launched a social media campaign called “Drop Your Pants for Underwareness.” Nothing about this was mentioned in any of the emails. I thought I was being invited to participate in a legitimate discussion about treatment options for urinary incontinence.
So imagine my shock and dismay when 20 seconds into the show I realized that I was trapped in a fucking Depends® commercial.
Was I being paid to be in this commercial? No. Was Sheryl Underwood? Uh, hell yes.
I’d bet money, if I’d made any, that Depends® and HuffPo Live considered that they were paying me in the only currency a blogger apparently needs: Exposure. As though being an unpaid shill for adult diapers builds my brand!
To be sure, I got no problem with Depends®, or pee pads in general. They serve a purpose. And I guess it is to her credit that a self-described strong, independent, self-confident woman like Underwood has no problem telling the world, and her dates before they feel up her ass, that she’s wearing the new, super-sexy Depends®. More power to her!
What I do have a problem with is being unwittingly duped into being an unpaid extra in an infomercial for Depends®.
I Resent Being Exploited as a Blogger Without My Informed Consent
I swear to God, I seriously considered hanging up when I realized what was really happening. But I didn’t. I was too scared. What would happen to my blogging career (stop laughing) if I hung up on HuffPo Live while I was on-air? I’d never work in this town again! So I stuck with it.
But then it got worse when insult was added to injury as I sat there while bad medical information was being given out to the 15 people watching.
After telling everyone how thrilled she was to be the spokesperson for Depends®, Underwood told her own story of urinary incontinence. And a common one it is.
Underwood had several fibroids. Finally, finding no fix for her fibroids, her “wonderful OB/GYN” performed a “partial hysterectomy.” (I’m guessing that what she means is she kept her ovaries, but I’m not really sure.) Anyway, after her hysterectomy, Underwood’s bladder “fell”.
And here’s where I got not just annoyed but really pissed off that I was sitting there a party to women being told, basically, “Oh well! This is inevitable. There’s nothing you can do about it. Now go get yourself some sexy pee pads and learn to be confident about it.”
Hysterectomy is a Leading Cause of Bladder Prolapse and Urinary Incontinence!
After childbirth, hysterectomy is thought to be a leading contributor to vaginal vault prolapse and bladder incontinence. See, the uterus acts like an anchor holding up the vagina and all the organs attached to it, like the bladder, for instance. Remove the uterus, and the bladder can fall, causing all sorts of problems, one of which is urinary incontinence.
So color me unsurprised when Underwood told us that after her “wonderful OB/GYN” took out her uterus her bladder fell down. In my opinion, her “wonderful OB/GYN” should have anticipated this would happen. This isn’t new news, by the way. From this article in WebMD, dated October, 25 2007:
Researcher Daniel Altman, MD, tells WebMD that the latest findings provide strong evidence of a link.
“Any woman contemplating an elective hysterectomy should be told that there may be consequences in the future,” he says. “The jury has been out, but I think the evidence is clear.”
Urinary Incontinence isn’t Inevitable After Hysterectomy
I had a hysterectomy, but I don’t have bladder leakage.
(If you do watch the show, you’ll eventually see the part where I kiss a bunch of ass by sort of making it sound like I use Depends too, which I don’t. By then, I’d abandoned my principles. I just wanted them to like me. I wanted to do a good job, because I’m thinking that if I don’t then next time they won’t use me. And aren’t I here with nothing better to do than let multi-billiom dollar corporations use me for free work? If not me, then they’ll choose somebody else, and I’ll miss out.)
Unlike Underwood’s doctor, my surgeon anticipated that I’d have a post-surgical urinary incontinence problem before my surgery. But then I did that shit ton of research I talked about earlier. I had physical therapy for a year before I consented to surgery. And when I decided surgery was my best option, I went to a Urogynecologist, a specialist in female pelvic floor surgery, even though he was four hours away.
My Urogynecologist did a thorough exam, and I endured two days of bladder tests, and other extremely unfun exams, to determine the full extent of my pelvic floor problems before my surgery, so my surgeon would be able to determine the best course of action ahead of time, thereby reducing my chances for further surgery. In other words, he did the job right. The first time.
But most women don’t know that the doctor who delivered their baby is probably not the best doctor for their hysterectomy. Most women have never heard of pelvic floor physical therapy, or Urogynecologists. Most women don’t know that vaginal estrogen can help, or even cure, urinary incontinence in some women. I thought I was going on HuffPo Live to discuss these important treatment options. But that’s not why I was there. Despite being asked at one point about my experiences, I realize that I was there to provide some free, quasi-expert window-dressing for Underwood’s Depends® commercial.
Is Incontinence Inevitable?
Underwood was told by her surgeon after her hysterectomy that she’d need to go through another surgery to fix her bladder. She’s opted for being the spokesperson for Depends® instead. That’s cool. But where’s her outrage that her physician didn’t anticipate something that he should have? Where’s her outrage that there are so few studies being done on this topic that we really don’t know how many women suffer urinary incontinence after the second most common surgery for women in the United States?
But if your real goal is to sell pee pads, and not help women find real treatment options for urinary incontinence, then I suppose nobody need look any further than the pee pad aisle at the drug store. Hell, we’ve got unlimited landfill for this shit, right? And who would want to simply stop having incontinence when there’s now some sexy pee pads out there for the buying?
On the plus side? I did get to meet LaTaya Simpson, author of More than Pretty: 7 Beauty Secrets That Could Change Your Life. She was the other guest, and after the show we had a chance to chat. She is AWESOME!