My gift suggestion for 2015 and beyond is the book, BEYOND EMBARRASSMENT: reclaiming your life with neurogenic bladder and bowel, written by JoAnne Lake and biosleuth, Julia Parker.

Beyond Embarrassment by JoAnne LakeBefore going on about the importance of this selection and why I have an enormous amount of respect for JoAnne Lake, I wanted to mention this book drove me out of my writing doldrums and motivated me to blog once again after an eight month hiatus. It is a must give book for anyone dealing with incontinence who hasn’t yet found the treatment they deserve, for those seeking a better management plan and for all wanting validation for how they are currently coping with their diagnosis.

Millions Have Bladder and Bowel Incontinence.

This book offers compassion, solutions, experience and support for those suffering incontinence.  Think it is a small problem?  According to the National Association for Continence, over 25 million Americans – men, women and children are affected by either bladder or bowel control issues.  Furthermore, only 1 out of ever 12 people affected seeks help.  It’s important to raise awareness of this embarrassing and challenging problem and offer a book that may help.

What causes a neurogenic bowel or bladder?

When there is an interruption to the communication between the nerves in the spinal cord that control bladder and bowel function and the brain, problems or dysfunction occurs, often resulting in incontinence.

Who is Joanne Lake?

JoAnne is a generous spirit who tells a story of surviving the spiral of bowel and bladder incontinence while living her life to the fullest.  This is not about tinkling when laughing.  Her story is far more complex, as she shares the serious assault to her body of ongoing kidney and bladder infections.  She describes the challenges of maintaining an active life style, which includes hiking and traveling, while always having to ensure ways to manage bathroom needs when not at home.   Her story is a must-read for those managing similar problems – and those who care about them.

Meeting JoAnne Changed My Life.

While at BlogHer 2014, co-leading a session focused on health, a lovely woman came over and introduced herself to me during a group breakout.  It was JoAnne Lake.  She told me about her neurogenic bowel and bladder problem and shared she was writing a book about her experience. What I learned during our initial chat is that she blogged under the pseudonym of Trudy Triumph and is a high school teacher who kept her problem secret for many years.  She was embarrassed and didn’t want to be labeled with her diagnosis.  Only a few trusted friends and colleagues were aware.  She specifically came to meet me knowing I was a nurse and a women’s health expert who blogs.

JoAnne asked if I would read what she had written and offer comments and perspective.  I said of course.  Being one of the Always Discreet experts, I respond to questions mostly from women, who email the Brand through its website asking about incontinence and product use.  I wanted to know what JoAnne had to say about herself and how she manages, as her story could help others.

This is a Well Researched and an Engaging Read.

Several weeks after meeting, JoAnne began emailing me chapters from her book.  I read them almost immediately upon receiving and was totally engaged with her story.  The book contains well-researched content about the medical complexity surrounding a neurogenic bladder and bowel diagnosis.  It is wrapped around the true-life emotionally engaging story of a woman who struggled through diagnosis and finding the best solutions for her.  WOW!! I never realized it could be so difficult to get help, without judgment, along with identifying the appropriate treatment options.

Knowledge Nuggets and Tip Time.

In the book, JoAnne and Julia, wrap key statistics, treatment options and science in neat boxes, labeling them as Knowledge Nuggets.  Additionally, there are tips that include ways to minimize infection, manage outings, identify a physician that best meets your needs and other wise suggestions based on JoAnne’s experience.  Just reading those can enhance the chances someone will improve their state of wellbeing immensely.

Resources, Glossary of Terms, References and Notes.

This book is well-researched and offers the reader the benefit of years of JoAnne’s experience.  Quite simply, when her symptoms first started, she climbed a major mountain to gather facts, product information, treatment options and knowledge, which she so generously shares.

JoAnne is a hero!

She came out of hiding to share her story and what she had learned over the years so others would have an easier time.  It is not easy to let people know you can’t control your bladder and bowels naturally.  It can be a real challenge and accidents can happen.  I love that JoAnne does this with dignity, resolve and facts.  It is a well-written life story of a woman dealing with a serious life altering health issue and medical content to help the reader find her (or his) answers.

For more about JoAnne and BEYOND EMBARRASSMENT, I have included a link to JoAnne’s blog, Trudy Triumph’s Neurogenic Bladder Blog.  There, you can read more about JoAnne, connect with those who also have neurogenic bladders, find related resources and read inspirational thoughts in this well-organized blog space.

To purchase BEYOND EMBARRASSMENT by JoAnne Lake




  1. Meeting you in person and JoAnne during your BlogHer presentation was one of the highlights of the trip. I’m so glad she wrote AND PUBLISHED this book and you reviewed it! Sharing this kind of information that can change the quality of our lives is what BTSN is all about! Thank you Elaine and JoAnne!!


  2. Linda and Elaine! You two are a powerful combination, even more so when adding JoAnne Lake to the mix. Glad to know about this book as I have encountered many quilters who need accommodation and forethought before agreeing to go on bus trips to quilt shows. How uplifting to see a lovely, inviting cover and coverage of a topic so far on the back burner, it’s out of the kitchen. I am going to read this book. Thank you for your efforts, all three of you, to promote such a worthy topic, affecting so many. I am going to join in. Much Love, Fondly, Robin


  3. Robin: I really value your comment and appreciation for what most women are challenged with when managing their life and incontinence. Glad you will share the book, as I truly believe it will help.
    Thank you!!!


  4. Hi Kate: Thank you for taking the time to comment. I found the book helpful and inspiring. Sometimes it feels like a person is all alone dealing with incontinence and there are no solutions. If I could, I would place the book in anyone’s hand who is on the journey of managing their own health challenges in this area. I appreciate your words, as I am sure JoAnne would.


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