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?
Dr Christian: Is this complete incontinence?
Dr Christian: You can’t control anything?
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.
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?
Dr Christian: Now more rushing, no more accidents?
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.
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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