InterStim Testimonial- Dean - WI

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How New Technology, a Dedicated Doctor and Minor Surgery Solved One Woman’s Lifelong Battle with Incontinence

Over nearly 30 years, Patricia’s battle with incontinence had worsened. She had seen many doctors, tried virtually every possible medication, suffered through a variety of harsh side effects and setbacks, and only saw her condition deteriorating.

Patricia explained: “I literally had to carry towels with me. Extra clothes. Clean-up supplies. The medications were awful, too. In one case, the dry-mouth side effects were so severe, I could hardly talk. My daughter thought I had suffered a stroke.”

Patricia’s condition was more severe than most cases of incontinence. Instead of a few leaked drops or occasional wet undergarments, her bladder would empty completely, with very little warning.

“The embarrassment was impossible to overcome,” said Patricia. “I slowly gave up very basic things, like going for a walk. Any kind of travel was impossible. Just between Madison and Janesville, I got to the point of knowing every single public bathroom along the way.”

Her struggles continued, as the severity and frequency of the condition got worse. “Many times I had to abandon carts of groceries while shopping. I really couldn’t go out socially, ever, or even have lunch or dinner at a restaurant. Whenever I had to leave the house, I always had towels and extra clothes. It was that bad.”

The psychological toll of incontinence continued to grow over time and became overwhelming. Finally, as treatment options and technology took another step forward, Patricia found out about a new device that offered hope for her condition. She made an appointment with Jennifer Maskel, MD, a urologist at Dean Medical Group, to seek—yet again— any kind of improvement.

Quickly, Dr. Maskel concluded that Patricia’s situation was unacceptable, and began an evaluation of other options.

“Based on my condition and history,” said Patricia, “I was a perfect candidate for InterStim. I was told that small electrodes would connect to my spine to regulate my bladder, with an electronic controller implanted under the skin of my lower back. The entire thing is done on an outpatient basis. Dr. Maskel said it wouldn’t be too painful because no muscle is cut. I had absolutely nothing to lose.”

Patricia explained further. “The best part was that there’s a temporary setup to determine if the permanent implant would work. It was a little inconvenient to carry an external box around for a few days, but I quickly realized it was working.”

Then something amazing happened.

“I got my life back.”

For the first time in decades, Patricia not only had hope for a mere improvement, but for a normal life. Based on the success of the trial, she was scheduled for the permanent implant.

“After the surgery,” Patricia explains, “the device gets adjusted and fine-tuned externally, much like a pacemaker. The battery in the device will need to be changed every five years or so or maybe they’ll replace it with a newer and better model. We’ll see!”

What was the surgery like?

“It took less time than I thought. A few hours total, I think. In terms of discomfort, having the InterStim unit placed was really no different than having a minor skin procedure. People have asked me if there was a lot of pain associated with it, and I honestly tell them no. Believe me, it’s not at all like labor and childbirth—that’s a hundred times worse.”

Today, instead of carrying towels and extra clothing, Patricia’s life is essentially normal. Of course, she needs to monitor her condition and see her urologist for check-ups. “I can’t tell you how much laundry I’ve done over the years, and how many embarrassments there have been. I feel completely normal now, and I almost can’t believe I suffered for so long. That part of my life, thankfully, is a memory. I’m proud to say I don’t even wear liners anymore.”

Patricia encourages anyone who’s tired of leakage, uncertainty and the embarrassment of incontinence to seek information, education and treatment. “Everyone at Dean was so helpful, respectful and concerned. They treated me like royalty. People don’t have to suffer with this, even if it’s nowhere near as severe as my situation. I would tell anyone suffering with incontinence, ‘Make the appointment, get educated. It’s time to get your life back.’”

Learn More

To learn more about InterStim surgery, please visit our InterStim Therapy for Bladder Control Problems page.


Related Health Resources

Information on Overactive Bladder (from Medtronic)

Information on Urinary Retention (from Medtronic)

Understanding Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence in Women

Urinary Incontinence in Men

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