Julie never had problems with her bladder until after her hysterectomy in 2002. Then she started having to go every 20, 30 or 45 minutes during the day. She would also get up frequently at night. A Registered Dietician and a Registered Nurse, she often felt herself leaking while she was with patients. "I wore triple pads and kept a change of clothes at work, because I was always afraid I'd leave a puddle behind me," she says.
At one point, Julie considered taking a different job, until she realized she couldn't make the 45-minute commute without stopping. "As it was, I knew where every public bathroom was in my neighbourhood," she says. She worried constantly about odour. The leaking kept her from attending her son's baseball games and from participating in the sports she enjoyed. "Worst of all," said Julie, "my bladder problems had an impact on intimacy with my husband. It was so depressing." Julie was 42, but she felt she was living like a 90-year-old. Her urge incontinence left her mentally and physically exhausted.
Julie's urologist had her try medications, but they didn't work well and caused side effects. After she also tried biofeedback, her doctor suggested sacral nerve stimulation. "I really had to think about it," Julie says, "but I knew I couldn't go on the way I was, so I agreed to do the trial assessment." She could tell it was working right away, but the testing continued several days to make sure. It was 2005 when Julie received her implant and she says, "I feel like I've improved almost 100%."
Now Julie can go for long car rides up to northern Michigan, sit through movies, or go shopping without worrying she won't make it through the checkout line. She can have a cup of coffee, or pick up a drink to have in the car. She can go cross-country skiing again and get a good night's sleep. Plus, she no longer has concerns about being intimate with her husband. Julie says, "Sacral nerve stimulation has changed my life in so many ways, but mainly it has given me back my dignity."
This story recounts the experience of one patient who is receiving sacral nerve stimulation for the treatment of urge incontinence. 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.
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.