Archive for Interstim

I’m not a Doctor

Often, people will utilize my blog when searching for information about Interstim.  As I have stated in earlier posts, I am more than thrilled that people are finding me, my blog, and my story as a resource in an effort in getting the word out there about this life changing surgery.  However, it is important to note, I’m not a Doctor.  I have no authorization to give medical advice.  See my Disclaimer.  I can only speak to my own experiences and how the surgery has influenced my life personally.  I can also direct interested parties to the official Interstim Website to obtain a medically professional opinions.

That being said, I am obviously more than ready to share my personal story, trials, and tribulations surrounding the Interstim surgery.  Often, and understandably, people feel more comfortable privately writing to me about their questions and concerns.  I urge you to do this.  In future posts I hope to answer my most frequent questions publicly, but, rest assured, your name and other identifying information will never be revealed as I will only be compiling my answers to my most frequently asked questions in an effort to assist those who need those answers but are unwilling to ask.

So, keep asking those questions, you can e-mail me privately (peace4Lauren@gmail.com) and/or post a comment to the blog.  I promise, I will answer as truthfully as I can regarding my personal quest with the Interstim implant.  But remember, I’m not a Doctor.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Advertisements

Searching for….Interstim?

A really cool thing about WORDPRESS, the blogging site I use, is that it tracks your stats.  One stat that is particularly interesting to me is viewing the “search” words that individuals use that result in producing a link to my blog.

By far, the most used search term to reach my blog is “Interstim.”  I find this linkage very exhilarating and useful.  When I was first exploring the option of Interstim, I, like many people, turned to social media to get “the real scoop.”  Knowing how a person implanted with Interstim contemplates the surgery, experiences success, and lives with the implant is an immeasurable tool when deciding upon a life altering procedure.  

I’m happy to be that person to so many people.  I would encourage those searching my blog for information and/or with questions regarding my experiences with Interstim to either contact me directly at peace4Lauren@gmail.com, or leave a comment.  I would like to be able to relate my most positive experience with Interstim with you in a way that is meaningful to you.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Biking-in the water?

My bike seat for land will be arriving at my house shortly, like, this week.  Glorious!  I can’t wait to strap my ham hocks onto the seat that is created to protect my tender pelvic floor.  I hope it works, fingers crossed! If you are so inclined, feel free to read my earlier post about biking.  I also hope that our weather cooperates.  I don’t know how it’s been where you live, but we have hit mid 70’s one day, snowstorm the next.  Wacky!

One place I do not need to worry about biking in the elements is the gym.  I’d like to be very clear, I’m not talking about “the spin class.”  I tried that, once, before I had my daughter.  I couldn’t walk, for days!  Hmmm, bikes at the gym, that aren’t in a land spin class?  Where are said bikes I speak of?  In the water of course!

Hydro-biking is an amazing workout for those with pelvic floor damage.  The hydro-bike allows you to “spin” and workout with limited pressure on your pelvic area.  It is an awesome resource that I am very lucky to be able to use at the weekly hydro-bike class at the gym.  Kudos to my gym for trying something new.

So, for someone who was told they would never ride a bike again, I say, I CAN and I AM bike riding! (with modifications).

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Bike Riding

The first time I was seen by a medical professional post birth trauma was 6 weeks later.  As I sat across from my OBGYN, (the same one who delivered me), she first calmly told me I was too bruised to examine.  She then proceeded to tell me about my “normal” delivery and my “normal” recovery and how it would just take time to get back to “normal.”  No mention of physical therapy, fecal incontinence surgery, PTSD treatment, just a condescending statement that “normalcy” would be achieved with time.  She then, offhandedly, remarked-“It’s not like you need to ever ride a bike again.”

WHAT?  Part of my “normal” recovery from my “normal” delivery would impact my ability to ride a bike?  I often think about this statement.  Was my OBGYN placing a thought in my head, a thought that I could reinforce with a nonchalance of “well, it’s not like I need to.”

Well, since then I have switched OBGYN’s, but the switch for the bike statement in my brain was not as easily achieved.  Until now.  I have found a bike seat that I am ready to try.  This bike seat eliminates pressure on the perineum area and claims to be both comfortable and functional for those with pelvic floor issues.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Interstimcise

So, it’s March. And, I need to lose weight.  What better idea than to join the March Meltdown at my gym!

Since the birth of my daughter, in March 2008, exercise has been tricky.  Swimming, my main form of exercise, was not happening for a while (that whole fecal incontinence issue really put a damper on getting in the pool).  Anything that involved my pelvic floor (ab work, cycling)-not happening due to extreme pain.  Additionally, anything that wiggled my dislocated hip, caused me to let go of embarrassing gas, or possibly triggered my PTSD was not an ideal exercising situation.

So, I sat, and ate, and gained weight, until I weighed more than I did at my heaviest pregnancy weight.

February 2011, I joined a gym.  After years of physical therapy, and my high fiber diet, I felt that I could have a good handle on the pool situation.  I tentatively began aquasize classes, and slowly started swimming laps.  Of course, my going to the gym was always dependent on what kind of day my sphincter and mind were having.  I began to lose weight.

July/August 2011, I had my Interstim surgery.  Because of the healing time, I was out of the gym rotation for about 6 weeks.  You guessed it, I gained again.

And here we are.  March Meltdown.  Time to get serious.  Time to explore what I like to call “Interstimcise.”  This time, I am working with a personal trainer who knows about my Interstim Implant and can suggest productive, and safe, exercise that does not jiggle the implant, or put pressure on the site of incision.  Ever since I received my Interstim implant in August, I have been tentative as to how to proceed.  I have only done the low impact, aquasize classes. I am super excited to work with this trainer in an effort to learn more, burn more calories, and get back into the world of exercising with limited restrictions.

The Interstim Implant does not prevent you from exercising, however,  it is important to  proceed with the help of your Interstim provider as well as a knowledgeable trainer, so as not to disrupt the great gift that Interstim will give you.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

Tears and Tears

Tears and Tears.  Words that sound the same, but mean very different things.  Tears (torn) and Tears (crying).  For me, there is a huge correlation between these two homophones.

When you have a baby vaginally, there is a risk that you will tear.  Recently, I came across a website that shows diagrams of vaginal tears in childbirth.  This slide show is an essential viewing point for anyone who wishes to understand visually the physical trauma of a tear.  Feel free to view here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-tears/PR00143

Although vaginal tears are common during vaginal birth, the severity of the tear and the “how to” of the repair differ.  In her blog, Dr. Amy-The Skeptical OB, Dr. Amy Tuteur talks about the ability to midwives to repair tears during vaginal birth. You can read her take on tearing here http://skepticalob.blogspot.com/2012/02/vaginal-tears.html.

As a recipient of a third degree tear in a hospital setting, I am curious about the ability of my doctor to repair my tear during my forceps assisted vaginal birth.  According to the mayo clinic slide show, the repair for my tear should have been a bit more extensive and done with a little more care.  Maybe it should have even been done in an operating room rather than at the foot of my delivery bed.  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-tears/PR00143&slide=4

Tears often follow tearing.  For me, the physical pain of the initial tear as well as the physical and emotional consequences that follow such a trauma created lots of tears.  It is my hope that midwives and doctors understand the long-term ramifications of diagnosing and repairing a tear correctly.  My tear was not repaired correctly, nor was I given the postpartum support necessary for the tear I sustained.  Luckily, I managed, on my own, to get to a rectal surgeon, and ultimately, to Interstim, to treat the incontinence issues that began with my tear.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

6 months

As of this past weekend, I have had my Interstim implant in for 6 months!  It is amazing how my life has been completely turned around for the last half a year.

The decision to have the implant was really a no-brainer.  I had exhausted the other “non-surgical” routes with little success.  The non-surgical routes of exercise, diet, and physical therapy are all components that serve to strengthen my Interstim now, but did little to appease the nerve function that I lacked prior to the implant.

Just for reference, the surgical route prior to Interstim was a scary prospect.  Before Interstim, my choice was to have my sphincter cut, then sewn back together tighter….repeat surgery every 5 years.  The prognosis of a successful surgery was limited, and there was a very real chance that more harm could be done.

With the sphincter cutting surgery as my only option, you can imagine my relief when my rectal surgeon recommended Interstim.  The surgery itself is low risk, and the prognosis of success is pretty high.  There was no hesitation for me to embark on this journey 6 months ago, and I cannot wait to see where it leads me!

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

I’m OK too

Recently, I commented on a blog that also explores the very real diagnosis of PTSD after childbirth as well as the issue of birth trauma.  The post that I commented on, “Thank God the Baby is ok!” can be read in its entirety here. http://www.tobreatheagainbook.com/2011/12/thank-god-baby-is-ok.html#comment-form

I tend to agree with this posting.  So many times while relating my story to others, (family, friends, and medical professionals), I hear the phrase “At least the Baby’s OK.”  Whether it is in those exact words or some other phrasing with the same meaning, I inwardly cringe.  I know this is a well-meaning statement.  I know the people saying it to me are trying to show they care.  I know that there is a thrust in our society to look for the best of the situation.  However, I have to agree with Kerissa from “To Breathe Again” (see link above) when she states “Baby’s matter. A lot. But mom’s matter, too.”

Knowing my baby was ok and is ok does matter.  In fact, as a mom ,it was really important to me that she was ok.  In fact, I hoped that she was more than ok.  I hoped that she was healthy, beautiful, smart, joyous, etc.  All those hopes that mom’s have for their kids.

To best explain why the statement “At least the Baby’s OK” rubs me the wrong way, it is important for you to understand my perspective of that day.  The day of my daughter’s birth. The day of my trauma. It was the most wonderful day and the most horrifying day simultaneously.  I separate those two events, even though they happened at the same time.  If I am relaying to you my story, I am telling you my trial, my horror, my hell.  I am not connecting that trauma to the wonderful person that entered this world and blesses our lives daily.

I appreciate all of the support for my journey.  Yes, my daughter is ok, she’s more than ok.  And guess what?  Through hard work, therapy, some totally awesome medical interventions,  and lots of tears, I’m ok too.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Just Keep Swimming

One thing that I have found essential to my healing journey is exercise.  Exercise releases feel good endorphins, keeps my weight down, and allows me a great way to beat stress without medication.

Prior to my trauma, I thoroughly enjoyed swimming as exercise.  As a college level competitive swimmer, I was used to tough workouts and long hours in the pool.  As you can imagine, fecal incontinence and swimming laps in a pool DO NOT MIX.  In fact, there are signs posted everywhere that any fecal matter in the pool will result in a pool closure for all patrons.  Besides the obvious fact that a leakage would affect other’s enjoyment of the pool facility for the day; there was no way that I was getting into a pool if there was a chance that I could have an accident.  Obviously this proved a huge loss, emotionally and physically, as I thought about all of the times I would miss in the pool.

Through physical therapy, but, prior to my Interstim surgery, I gained some control of my bowels that would allow me a pretty good idea about when my leakages may occur.  It was at this time that I began to swim again, albeit cautiously.  Even though I felt good about going into the pool again, my plans could change in an instant if I was having a bad day with my sphincter.

Fast forward to now.  Interstim has allowed me complete freedom in the pool.  I no longer foster feeling of uncertainty and grief when stepping into the chlorinated goodness that was my second home prior to trauma.

It turns out that swimming is one of the best exercises I can do with my Interstim implant.  The low impact exercising has allowed me to stay in shape, engage in great workouts, and have fun again.  I could not have imagined this 6 months ago.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

Part Machine

Since the placement of my Interstim, I have come to grow and love the fact that part of me operates on a machine that is implanted into the fleshy part of my backside.  It is so unbelievably awesome that the technology exists that allows me the ability to regain rectal function.  This surgery and the surgical device that sustains my fecal continence is truly life altering and creates a life sustained by predictability and goodness in an area that, prior to the surgery, was unpredictable and depressing.

People often say, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”  To that sentiment I add, if you have never had a problem with fecal incontinence, allow yourself to think about the excellence of your brain, nerves, and sphincter function that just sort of know what to do for you to effectively control your bowels.  And if you had, or have, fecal incontinence, allow yourself the thought that there IS hope.  There IS a surgery that you can undergo in order to regain function for fecal incontinence.  Interstim has been an amazing part of my life and I urge you to look into it if you suffer from fecal incontinence.  http://www.medtronic.com/patients/bowel-incontinence/about-therapy/index.htm

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

Next entries »