Finding Freedom and Eliminating Stigma


My Story – Submitted by: Waldo

This story was originally published in the Danish magazine Vertel.  You can access the original story and photos here:

Here is the author’s English translation, which he has asked that we share with you.

Dear reader,
I would like to share my personal story with you. I want to contribute to the elimination of the stigma and the taboo around incontinence. 
This is my story:

“The biggest condition is not the disease, but how you look at it yourself,” says Waldo Kolk (48). He has been incontinent for over twenty years and talks about it openly. “It has to be out of that shadowy corner.” Waldo: “Potty creams for diaper rash are being touted for babies. Somewhere at the bottom of the label is in lower case: ‘Also for adults’. Why? I am incontinent, wear diapers and sometimes also suffer from irritated skin. And many adults with incontinence problems with me. Let us stop doing that mysteriously.  Stopping as if it does not occur. ”

FREEDOM “Another example: view a random car advertisement and it is about emotion first. About freedom, going out, positivity. View an advertisement for incontinence materials and it is full of practical details. About the absorption capacity, the material. No pictures of activities you can do, but impersonal images of packaging. Sin, this has such a limiting effect. We should not be so bad about it, incontinence should not be kept indoors. Of toddlers in a diaper, do we also find it normal that they do and can do everything? Slide up and down, run, play. In adults there is suddenly about done about it. I just do everything. My passions are motorcycling, diving, traveling and photography. I just swim in swimming trunks. There is nothing to see me. Yes, in the summer my diaper is sometimes visible. “Charming,” my girlfriend grinned last holiday when I stooped into a foreign supermarket and my diaper was visible. ”

In the period that Waldo lived in Germany, he was in his early twenties, he underwent an appendectomy. The surgery had a long aftermath and in that period the incontinence problems began. Back in the Netherlands, he visited various specialists, but nobody found the cause. “I lost a lot of urine, I just could not stop. But how long do you keep looking for the cause? It is clear to me that it has to do with that operation. Of course I had difficulty with it first, but at one point I decided: this is it and I will continue. I was young and wanted to be busy with very different things. If you pour into the toilet thirty times a day, you are also done with it. That’s how I started to wear diapers. I recently heard from a GP about people who struggle with tea towels for years, because they do not dare to come up for it. With all the consequences, because tea towels do not help, blemish skin irritations. I do not make a secret of it. The biggest condition is not the disease, but how you think about it yourself. “How do people see me?”

You need to get rid of that idea. Incontinence is not something to be ashamed of. Only the piece of muscle that regulates urination does not work. We do not have to be surprised about that.”

“If I had not been incontinent, my life would have looked exactly like that. It’s about being resilient. As a child grow up in an safe environment, that is what changes your life. My girlfriend and I have foster children so I see the consequences. People want to feel connected. Do not shut yourself out and talk about your condition. Discover that you are not the only one. Now that I am almost fifty, I feel the need to make a meaningful contribution to society. However small [it]may be. For my work, I am mainly thinking about digital business models, but I have something else to give in the social field. Perhaps in this way, by addressing certain things. ”

“We should no longer talk about ‘fellow sufferers’ on forums, that is so negative. And let’s not call diapers ‘incontinence materials’, that shames shame. In America, the type of diapers that I use is just for sale in the supermarket. Super. It is nice if incontinence comes [out] from that vague, shadowy angle. Create advertisements that show different activities and seasons. Sports, on a hot summer day, with a long car ride. With diapers that are suitable for this. Because you do not want a wet car seat if you have to drive far. For fun, I have written down the positive aspects of wearing diapers for myself. On one: you never have to go to a dirty toilet: you know them, along the highway. On two: no panic in the event of a high emergency. ”


Posted in Shared Stories from People with Incontinence and tagged , , .