The 25-year-old artist fell from a helicopter when she was skydiving in 2013 and became paraplegic. While she was told she would never walk again, after years of surgery, physio and rehabilitation, Carey is now able to walk unaided.
But despite her incredible fortune in being able to walk, she still faces many issues from her spinal cord injury. One of which is incontinence.
In an Instagram post, Carey shared an image of herself after she had wet her pants.
“This is what I look like every. single. day. Multiple times a day. I think because I can walk, people tend to think I have completely recovered from my spinal cord injury but the truth is I still have many lasting effects, one of them being that I am completely incontinent with both my bladder and bowels,” she wrote.
“My bladder can only hold 100mL before it leaks. That’s less than half a cup of liquid, so as you can probably imagine this means I am peeing myself literally non-stop.”
In an interview with Mamamia, Carey said she was inspired to share the image after an encounter a couple of months ago.
“I had a girl come up to me a couple of months ago, and she said that she is deaf in one ear but was too embarrassed to wear her hearing aid,” she said.
“She would rather walk around deaf than wear her hearing aid, and she said when she saw how open I was about using catheters and pads, and peeing myself, it helped her not be so embarrassed about it… I thought wow, I need to talk about this more.”
Carey said she used to be so embarrassed by her incontinence, she would refuse to go out, in an effort to keep her accidents a secret. But she grew tired of feeling angry and upset herself everyday.
“That’s when it hit me.. I survived a bloody skydiving accident. I don’t know how or why but I know that it certainly wasn’t to live a depressing life. I owed myself way more than that,” she said.
“Now it’s five years later and I don’t think I have a single friend that hasn’t seen me pee. I tell people about my incontinence generally within 10 minutes of meeting them. And now I’m posting a picture of my pee covered pants to over 100,000 people without a second thought.”
Carey is passionate about raising awareness about the little things that people with spinal cord injuries, and other disabilities, encounter on a day to day basis.
“A lot of people would have things about their bodies or about their health that they’re embarrassed about, especially people with spinal cord injuries or the same problems as me, people are so embarrassed about it,” she said.
“I had a message from a lady not long ago who said that her partner of 15 years doesn’t know that she pees herself, and I was like, ‘how did you hide that?’ It would take such an effort and be so draining to have to hide such a big thing.”
Carey hopes to help others overcome embarrassment so that they can live their best lives.
“If you can’t help something, you cant do anything about it, so you might as well embrace it. Life becomes a whole lot easier when you stop being embarrassed about things.”
Around 12,000 Australians live with a spinal cord injury. Between 350-400 new cases are recorded each year, 80 per cent of which are the result of traumatic injury.
As well as multiple broken bones, Emma sustained what’s known as an incomplete spinal cord injury, meaning only a limited number of signals are able to pass between her body and brain. Her legs were paralysed, and her bladder and bowel control affected.
Emma Carey runs a popular website, where she blogs about her experience and sells her artwork.