Ever since she was a little girl, Pam had bladder problems. When in her 20s and 30s, it seemed like she went to the bathroom hourly during the day. Plus, Pam got up four to five times at night, so was always tired.
The frequent bathroom breaks were a real problem at Pam’s job, since she worked as a teamster, setting up and taking down tradeshows. It was hard, heavy work, often putting in 12- and 14-hour days. “The guys I worked with did not understand,” Pam says, “and I had to put up with a lot of ridicule. They’d say things like, where is she sneaking off to now?”
Pam’s condition gradually worsened, so she began staying home more, since social events were just too hard. At one point, even a walk around the block felt impossible, because there was nowhere she could stop for the bathroom. Pam felt as if she was hiding from her life.
Pam has seen plenty of doctors and tried medications, biofeedback, and Kegel exercises, but nothing really worked. One doctor told her the problems were all in her head. She was often in tears at the doctor’s office, feeling like there was no hope. “It was as if I’d fallen into a black hole and couldn’t get out,” says Pam.
Finally, in 1999, Pam’s urologist invited patients with symptoms like hers to a meeting where the doctor and a Medtronic representative described how sacral nerve stimulation worked. Once she heard there was a trial assessment for the therapy, she decided to try it. During the trial assessment she experienced good results, but it took two months for her insurance to approve the implant surgery. After the implant Pam’s frequency was cut by half. She went every two hours during the day and once or twice at night, compared with four or five times at night. Plus, she could hold better.
Now she is more comfortable doing social things, going to restaurants, and seeing friends, because she doesn’t always have to run to the bathroom. Pam and her husband can go camping and travel more. Her kids have noticed that she is a lot happier, and not as tired. Today, Pam has “an attitude of gratitude.”
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.
This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.