Cheryl, age 58, was in her mid-fifties when she noticed she had to go to the bathroom more often and was experiencing some leaking. She talked to her family practice doctor about it, who said, "This is just something that happens when women get older. You'll get used to it." Cheryl says, "I didn't buy that, since I'm only in my fifties, but I was too embarrassed to talk to anybody about my problem."
For the next year, Cheryl "just tried to live with it." She had been an OR nurse for nearly 20 years. But having to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes made it difficult for her to be in surgery. Because of leaking, she used four to five pads per day and worried about pad odour. Sometimes she couldn't empty her bladder completely, which led to infections. At night she would get up five to six times so she wouldn't wet the bed, and she worried about having relations with her husband. Cheryl says, "I was always tired and not able to be the wife I wanted to be."
Then a new doctor began using the surgical facilities where Cheryl worked. This doctor worked with patients that had urinary urgency and frequency. Cheryl observed the doctor perform some InterStim® neurostimulator implant surgeries, and she noted that the patients seemed to do well. So Cheryl talked to the doctor about her own urgency-frequency. The doctor put her through all the tests and had her try a few medications before suggesting an InterStim neurostimulator. However, many of the doctor's patients were elderly women, and Cheryl thought, "But I'm not old." So Cheryl got a second opinion from another urologist who also concluded that an InterStim neurostimulator could be a good option for her.
But Cheryl didn't feel ready for sacral nerve stimulation. She tried five or six medications, but the results were short-lived. One day Cheryl ran into a Medtronic representative at work and told him her story. She broke down in tears and said, "I can't live like this, but I feel like I'm not old enough to need a neurostimulator." He told her about a 32-year-old patient who had excellent results. Cheryl told him, "Sign me up."
In December 2007, Cheryl had a trial assessment, which went well and she had the device implanted a month later. Cheryl was "elated" with the results. "I'm not 100% improved, but darn close," she says. Now she only gets up once at night, and during the day she goes several times, instead of every half hour. When she's really tired or stressed she might have a small leak every 3 or 4 days. But she no longer has to worry about odor or drinking fluids. "It's amazing," she says.
Finding bathrooms and worrying about her bladder is no longer a focus for Cheryl. She can shop or drive without worrying when she'll need to use the bathroom. "My neurostimulator has given me more freedom," Cheryl says. "I'm very comfortable. When patients ask me about sacral nerve stimulation, I tell them it's made such a positive difference in my life."
This story recounts the experience of one patient who is receiving sacral nerve stimulation for the treatment of urgency-frequency. Medtronic invited her to share her story candidly. Please bear in mind that the experiences are specific to this particular person. Results vary; not every response is the same. Talk to your doctor to determine if sacral nerve stimulation is right for you. In addition to risks related to a medical procedure, complications from this therapy can include pain, infection, sensation of electrical shock, device problems, undesirable change in voiding function, and lead migration, among others.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.