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Video

Voiceover: Wendy has a double reason to be embarrassed.

Wendy: I am doubly incontinent. It’s as simple as that and it is awful and it feels humiliating because human beings go to the loo in the toilet not when you just going around doing things. My bowels are just ruling my life.

Voiceover: Depressed by the loss of more and more of her independence, Wendy’s come to see Dr Christian to discuss her options.

Dr Christian: Wendy, thanks for coming in to see me. Now, I know you’ve been suffering from incontinence for a long time haven’t you?

Wendy: Yes.

Dr Christian: Is this complete incontinence?

Wendy: Yes.

Dr Christian: You can’t control anything?

Wendy: No.

Dr Christian: I guess the obvious question is why has this gone on for so long?

Wendy: Because I put up with things for a long time.

Dr Christian: So you’ve suffered in silence?

Wendy: Yes. And now its got worse over the last couple of years. My whole life is now concentrated on my bladder or my bowels.

Dr Christian: So everything you do and everywhere you go…

Wendy: Everything I do and everywhere I go is ‘can I get there? Can I last out?’

Dr Christian: A lot of the treatments for incontinence look at the sphincters and the way they work and they involves little plugs that try and stop things when you are travelling. Things have improved a lot, there are new methods we can use to help with incontinence like yours thankfully and I think what I’d like to do is send you to a specialist who will tell you about a different technique that actually involves a little implant into the nerves at the bottom of your spine which will help to really work on any residual control that you might have left at all and stimulate that and improve it and actually, generally speaking, it is very, very successful.

Voiceover: Faecal incontinence is caused by damage to the anal sphincter often from prolonged constipation, loss of storage capacity in the rectum and damage to the pelvic floor.

Dr Christian: There was really no need for Wendy to have suffered in silence for so long, but thankfully this procedure is really going to make a huge difference to the rest of her life.

Voiceover: Wendy has been coping with a dreaded but unfortunately common condition in older people, incontinence. But today her surgeon Mr Andrew Clark wants to fit an electrical device inside her body to help her.

Mr Clark: We’re here today to put and implant or device in which will help with your bowel and your bladder control.

Wendy: I’m looking forward to it.

Voiceover: It will be fitted under her spine under general anaesthetic. There’s a little trial and error while finding the exact position for the wire which will stimulate Wendy’s nerves.

Mr Clark: If you look here, this is a good response with this upper needle. It’s causing the anal canal to contract and a response on the toes.

Voiceover: The wire is then inserted and checked. A small pocket is made for the device which will send the electric pulses. The whole thing is hidden under her skin. An hour later and Mr Clark visits a still groggy Wendy to activate the device that will hopefully give her back control of her bladder and bowel.

Mr Clark: We’re just increasing the voltage Wendy.

Wendy: Yeah, yep, yep.

Mr Clark: You can feel that? Where can you feel that Wendy?

Wendy: Just about there.

Mr Clark: So, it’s right down in the anal canal, which is good. 1.7 volts which is great.

Voiceover: It’s been 2 months since her operation and Wendy is back to see Dr Christian. But has the surgery had the life changing effect she was craving for?

Dr Christian: Wendy, welcome back. It’s lovely to see you again, you are looking well.

Wendy: I am well, thank you.

Dr Christian: So, you’ve had your implant. Its gone into the spine, it’s in.

Wendy: Yes.

Dr Christian: What’s it doing?

Wendy: It’s just working beautifully. The pelvic floor muscles must be working superbly because I no longer have to race to the toilet. I can now actually walk to the toilet and life has just changed dramatically.

Dr Christian: That’s fantastic to hear. So, urine and poo all controlled now?

Wendy: Yes.

Dr Christian: Now more rushing, no more accidents?

Wendy: No.

Dr Christian: Wow, what a difference. The problem was so bad. You used to love socialising, making cakes, charity work; you couldn’t do any of that could you?

Wendy: No, I had to cut it down dramatically but this last weekend that’s gone by I’ve been for a meal to a friend’s house, I’ve travelled to a birthday party that was 70 miles away and it’s just lovely. I can do anything I want to now.

Dr Christian: This is a total new lease of life for you, isn’t it?

Wendy: Yeah. I’ve now got confidence. I do feel like the whole of my well-being has changed because it’s all working.

Dr Christian: I’m really happy that you’ve gone ahead and done it, and it’s working so well for you.

Wendy: It is.

Dr Christian: Thank you for coming back and seeing me.

Wendy: Thank you.

Dr Christian: Nice to see you again.

Read the video transcript

A patient who suffers from complete incontinence visits Dr Christian to discuss how suffering from the complaint is ruining her life. One high tech method of treatment is inserting an electrical implant into the patient’s spine but can such a tiny device really have such a big impact?

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Hi, I'm a just turned 30yr old woman, and after having my 3rd child I became ill. 2 and a half years done the line with numerous tests, scans, bloods done...I'm no further forward all that shows in the blood is a significant raise in LFT's enough to cause a lot of concern also became anaemic since been told I have inflamitory arthritis and various other things but not for certain yet confirmed any of these diagnoses! Also started not being able to hold in a poo about 3 months after having my 3rd child and it's became every time I need to poo I can't hold it in at all and it just comes out! I've tries alltering my diet and have restricted times that I eat so that I minimise pooing myself out in public. I've had colonoscopy and it came back with nothing! And now the docs have just said nothing more about it! Help





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I am a married women age 64. Five years ago I was constipated for a while. I have since changed my diet to become a vegetarian and my bowl movement became as frequent as 3 times a day. My number 2's became 'soft' but due to being constipated in the past I have noticed that the anal rim had 'stretched' and there is an inch of 'skin' (anal lining) hanging out of my bottom (not piles). I spend a lot of time wiping myself with toilet paper and baby wipes and apart from leakage, I am also experiencing a lot of itching around the area. Even tough I was embarrassed I went to see my GP twice, but he refused to refer me due to NHS lack of funds. My GP also suggested I stick toilet paper up to catch the leakage. The itching is driving me crazy, the leakage is compromising my hygiene and also being spontaneous with my husband in the bedroom department as I am conscience of being dirty and likely to smell. This is affecting my quality of life but what else can I do?





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Exercise is potentially the key to strengthen the pelvic muscles, walking, yoga, cycling, swimming. Seems like you may need to be taking a good probiotic. An extremly good one is Biokult. Good luck.

Dr Christian My mother suffers with double incontinence she will be 70 next month My mother also has fybromyalgia My mother has spent her life being the best mother and provider Her double incontinence is destroying her life to the point that whenever the grandchildren and great grandchildren come to visit she locks herself in the bedroom I recently watched the video were they put an electrical device into the patients spine that put an electrical current that helped to control the incontinence Could you please send me more information that i could take to the GP and maybe get the help she so desperately needs





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dear Dr, my mum has given birth to ten siblings and i think she is suffering for that.... mum is 84 years old and has type 2 diabetes, along with periferal neuropathy, in her arms, and legs.... osteoarthites, she is up every night for many years going to the toilet at least seven times and 50% lose of hearing, the medication she has been taking are... gabapentine 300mg deluxatine 60mg paracetamole, tramadol 50mg metformin 850mg several visits to the dr's who are no help and many antibiotics also 10mg pain patches.. mum is suffering pain day and night and its not nice to see her in pain...im very stressed and dont know where or what to do..????? i would like the best medical help you can offer to give my mum her life back. please help





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Im 36 years old and 6 months ago i gave birth to my first born daughter it wasn't an easy labour 58 hours in which i ended up having a forceps deliverly but when lil one was pull out the cord snap and the doctor had to get his hand inside me to get the afterbirth out so i was cut and torn badly. I now suffer with anal incontinence and just been told by the hospital i will need a machine like a pacemaker implanted to help my anal muscles work and if that doesn't work the words illeostomy bag was used.im only at the beginning of treatment and i just hope that it is sorted out soon.





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Iam 69 years old. In the seventees I had large bowel ensleevement because of congenital haemangioma and I understand that the rectum capacity was reduced. I am suffering from embarassingly severe faecal & urinary ncontinense with subsequent zero social life. would I be able to get the device implanted under the NHS and if not, what the estimated cost to have it done privately?





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HI i am a femaile 22 year old who has a number of health isues including asthma artheritus and fowlers syndome and anemia I am wondering what is the best way to go abotu getting help with the fowlers syndrom and asthma as they are out of control i have seen doctors and go no further forward i have been referred to a urologist and still got no were does any one have any sugestions?





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Male, 52 and diabetic (type 2-insulin dependent), diagnosed about 10-14 years ago.Presently suffering from erectile dysfunction, pre-mature ejaculation and appears 10 years older with embarrassing wrinkles that has defied anti-wrinkle creams. I was having marital problems with my wife before I relocated to Ireland while my family are still in Africa. I wish I can be helped to take care of these problems before re-uniting with my wife and family and urgently need your assistance. Also, I have this embarrassing skin colouration at the upper part of my body that looks like enzyma and has refused to heal inspite of various medications.I will be grateful if you can advise me on how to handle this condition. Thanks. Terry





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i was kicked in my back.i have lower back pain & have had mri scans but nothing has shown up the low back pain.6 weeks in to the injury my urine started to stop but had full bladder i told my doctor she keep an eye on it .then about a month later i was admitted in to hospital with having to catheter myself i have no feel down there i have had other test but there is no presser in my bladder .Ialso having problems with my bowels is dew to my bladder





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Male, 51, diabetic T2,diagnosed 2 years ago, BPH, I am shortly having tests for urinary incotinence (started having accidents in October, now daily leakage) and chronic urinary retention >500ml. Have only just realised I may have a linked or unconnected problem with bowel incontinence, as over a similar period I have had 5 or 6 instances of barely making it to the loo or not(never previously a problem except with chronic diahorrea). I feel like there has been some reduction in the strength and time with which I can firmly clench my buttocks. Have also over a longer period often had numbness in left outer thigh and pain like sun burn over top arch of left foot. I feel nervous about bringing this up as I feel my current health issues are already likely to put obstacles in the way of future employment. Is it likely that they are connected?





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Hi, I am sorry for your problems. I would definitely mention all those things to your doctor, its important they know everything as I do think they are connected. Bare with me please, this is a long reply but I think I should share my experience with you, even though in my case what happened is rare-please bare that in mind too when you read it! I'm a 30 year old women, not diabetic by the way so cant say if that is connected but the other symptoms you described are very similar to ones I experienced. In my case, I was born with Scoliosis (curve of the spine) and about 7 years ago the vertebrae from L4-S2 (lower part of the spine) started to collapse onto each other. This happened gradually over a number of years, (it went undiagnosed as I put my back pain, numbness in my legs and other problems down to the Scoliosis). The collapse of the vertebrae started crushing and damaging certain nerves to my lower limbs and bladder, during which time I experienced urinary incontinence, I was unable to completely empty my bladder, same as you with urine retention so I had accidents twice a day or more. I also started to develop bowel incontinence. I had numbness from my hips down on the outer thighs, down the outside of my legs and onto both feet on the sides and top of the feet which worsened gradually too and I had a lot of pain at times. I was eventually sent to an incontinence nurse who taught me to self catheterise every day so I could empty my bladder completely using single-use catheters and this stopped the accidents happening as often. She also referred me for a test of my bladder where they insert a tube to fill up the bladder with a liquid dye to see how much it can hold until you feel the sensation to pee, I didnt have any feeling to pee after almost 1 and a half litres of the liquid were put into my bladder (it should never hold that much!!) and was asked to have an MRI as he was worried the nerves were not communicating to the brain to tell me when I needed to go to the loo. All of these symptoms were not connected by any doctors I saw and I was waiting for an appointment for the MRI to come through when I collapsed with back pain and taken to hospital. Thats when they discovered through MRI and CT scans that the vertebrae had collapsed and almost killed the nerves to my bladder and I was at such a risk of losing the ability to walk and being in a wheelchair within 6 months because of the damage to the nerves to my lower legs and feet that I had surgery within a week to decompress my spine, release the trapped nerves and they pinned the vertebrae into place with rods. I still have problems and the nerves to my bladder haven't repaired themselves as they had hoped because the damage had gone on too long but I am walking fine and the pain is managed by injections and I still self catheterise about 4 times a day so all in all the surgery was the best thing to happen to me and saved me from being unable to walk again and stopped the other problems worsening. OK this is a long story and in my case very drastic, this kind of nerve damage is rare but the symptoms you described sound like nerve damage to me, definitely go see your doctor. I don't mean to scare you telling you all this but I think your symptoms are connected and you need to have your spine checked by a CT scan and the connecting nerves from your lower spine checked by an MRI. I am no doctor, I just know my symptoms and diagnosis of them very well, and know exactly what the surgeons found and how they tried to fix me!! I think self catheterising will be of great help to you with the incontinence if there is no other underlying cause. I hope this helps in some way and you get the treatment you need! By the way, I cope fine with work and as long as there is a loo I can catheterise!

I am not a doctor but be sure you are looked at by a neurologist if possible because the combination of incontinence and sensory disturbance (eg numbness) are common experiences to people with M.S.


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