Posts Tagged ‘fecal incontinence’

Reprogramming

Yesterday, I updated my Interstim Device programming.  Since having the device put in the second time, I’ve gone back and forth to the office to achieve more optimal programming.  Knowing that my first device worked so well has encouraged me to not settle for “less than great” relief of my symptoms.  It’s been a struggle to have, then lose, then have, then lose the ability to control my bowel symptoms.  This cyclical life that I have been living for the past seven and a half years is overwhelming at times.  However, I am remaining positive that this time, with this programming, a difference will be made in my bowel control.

My device has been reprogrammed.  I am reprogramming.  Not only my device, but my mind and body as well.  I am encouraged that my device “feels” more optimal after this last set of changes. (time will tell).  I am doing all I can with diet and exercise to support the medical technology within me.  I am beginning to blog again, hoping to offer support in an effort to remember that my story is not mine alone.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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Spring Training

Lately, I have found myself fixated on the fact that I just can’t work out. Because I fractured the wire on my first sacral nerve stimulator while engaging in aqua aerobics, I am worried, actually terrified, that something like that will happen again.  Since my “go to” when my emotions run high is food, I am gaining weight.  Gaining weight, mixed with an inability to exercise effectively, is a very wrong combination for me.

Prior to having my daughter, I always was an active person.  I enjoyed training, competing, and reaping the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.  After having my daughter, and extensive therapy, I was once again enjoying the benefits of going to the gym, being a reasonable weight, and a healthy person.  I even found that I could exercise carefully and effectively with my first Interstim placement.  Once pregnant with my son, and having my pelvic floor slip, being on bed-rest for 19 weeks, fracturing my Interstim wire, and recovering from another surgery, I have continued to lose that overall wellness I used to enjoy.

And I want it back.  But, I’m afraid.  I don’t want to fracture another wire.  I cannot afford the type of trainer I would need that would be able to look at my x-rays, determine wire placement, and recommend safe and effective exercises.  I cannot afford to spend weeks/months/years back in physical therapy.  I need something, but, I don’t know how to access it or afford it. I really would LOVE to be able to get something in place for “spring training.” Any suggestions?

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A Proud Message

Almost a year ago, I published a post called, My “Adult” Movie.  In this post I discussed the event of Medtronic producing a video about me in an effort to educate people about, and put a real face to, fecal incontinence.  Although it’s hard to watch myself, I am proud of the message I am able to portray in parts 1, 2, and 3 of my story.  I am linking the videos to this blog to allow others to easily access this information.  In addition to my videos, there are many other helpful videos that were made at the same time, talking about different facets of Interstim. These can be found once you view the videos I’ve linked below.  They will be in the sidebar.   I encourage anyone who wants further information about my personal story, or further information about Interstim, to take a look.

Thanks for reading, (and watching),

Lauren

Lauren’s Story, Part 1 of 3

Lauren’s Story, Part 2 of 3

Lauren’s Story, Part 3 of 3

 

 

 

 

A Piece

Before.  Before I had my daughter, in March 2008, I was a person well versed in the art of lifeguarding.  I was a lifeguard, water safety instructor, swim instructor, special olympics swim coach volunteer, cpr/first aid certified.  I lived in the water from an early age, and at 15, decided to make lifeguarding my profession of choice until my college degree panned out.  At 15, I took my first lifeguarding course, and with ease, aced the physical and written portions of the exam.  Throughout the years, I kept up on all of my recertifications, and rarely did a day go by that my life wasn’t touched by water from 1995-2003.. I was either practicing, swimming competitions, teaching swimming, or lifeguarding. Upon graduating from college, I kept up on my certifications in lifeguarding, attending the requisite physical and written recertifications, but chose teaching in a land locked classroom as my primary objective in my daily life.  I always assumed I would keep up on these recertifications until lifeguarding would once again fit into my schedule, so as not to take the entire course over again.  However, that was not to be.

Another aspect of my life altered due to birth trauma.  Because of the incontinence, because of the pelvic floor weakness, because of the PTSD, because of all of these things-I was unable to keep up with my recertifications post partum.  In an instant, I lost a big part of me, a huge part of my identity as a person who practically grew up in the water, a person whose skin perpetually smelled of chlorine, a person whose very soul floated freely and happily everytime on the pool deck and in the water, doing something I truly loved.

This past week, I have reclaimed that piece of me.  Just another piece, previously shattered, picked up to create peace.  I have committed 20 hours in lifeguard training, experiencing and practicing intense and grueling physical rescues, as well as written examinations.  I have once again become a lifeguard.  I am able to once again watch the water and teach swimming lessons.  Why now?  Because I can.  Also, because I was offered a swim coaching position that required my certifications be up to date.  It was a battle, both physical and mental to obtain the courage and strength I knew I would need to regain this certification.  But I did it.  And, I’m proud.  

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

99 Calls

99 Calls.  As of next week, including my scheduled calls, I will have placed 99 calls as a patient ambassador for Medtronic.  In a little less than two years, I have spoken with 99 people regarding my experiences with Interstim.  99 “official” conversations about fecal incontinence have been expounded upon in an open and honest manner.  99 conversations that, prior to 2008, I could have never imagined having.  99 conversations that, on average, are 30 minutes a call, that’s 2,970 minutes, 49.5 hours, a little over 2 full days of talking about an issue that is stigmatized, traumatizing, and devastating to many people.

Modesty aside, I can say, I feel good about that.  I feel great that I am able to do something, able to help people at the time where they are questioning their future with fecal incontinence.  Able to alleviate fear and provide a sounding board for life’s stresses with fecal incontinence.  I feel as though I am providing a service that I so desperately craved at my time of decision, at the time where I was wallowing in the woes and uncertainty of a future filled with severe fecal incontinence.

The most amazing thing for me, however, is that 99 calls is just the tip of the iceberg.  The bowel disorders support group that I facilitate, the multiple e-mails I negotiate from my blog, and the conversations I have with people face to face all serve to get my story out there in an effort to let people know they are not alone! To date, this blog has been viewed over 17,500 times.  It is hard for me to even wrap my head around that number.  It is hard for me to imagine that those 17,500 + views have hopefully helped someone by educating them about my experience and hopefully provided empathy for the viewer’s individual experience.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story, and I invite you to pass it on.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Living with Chronic Disease

At our most recent support group, we discussed living with chronic disease.  Our guest speaker, a mental health professional that focuses on chronic disease, was extremely helpful in guiding our conversation.  I guess it’s difficult for me to think of my condition, of fecal incontinence, as chronic disease.  However, as with most bowel disorders experienced in our support group, the waxing and waning of symptoms throughout my life would define it as such.

Chronic disease and it’s impact on mental health can be severe.  As I have shared before, mental health professionals and therapy were pretty heavy components in my healing journey from both the physical and mental ramifications of the birth trauma.  In dealing with a condition day after day, a condition that is chronic, one needs to supplement their mental fortitude with strength from others as well as within.  It’s not easy for me to know that I will be fecally incontinent for life.  However, the facts remain that my sphincter is damaged, and without medical intervention, like the Interstim, I would be completely incontinent of feces.  The fact remains that to this day I have good days and bad (mostly good), as well as a medical device that contains a battery that will have to be changed throughout my lifetime.  The fact remains that I continue to have diet modifications, as well as, pelvic floor exercise suggestions that I am supposed to follow on a daily basis.  The fact remains, I am living with a chronic disease, that, although manageable, can alter both physical and mental outlook.

So, what do you do when you realize that you are living with a chronic disease?  According to our speaker, the number one realization that you need to make is that your mind and body are connected.  So, even though your mind isn’t “causing” your physical body ailment, your mind can alleviate some of you physical symptoms, or in turn, make them a lot worse.  Emotional distress can be the very thing that contributes to chronic disease symptomology getting physically worse.  By recognizing this fact, often in treatment, one can pay attention to emotional stressors, thereby problem solving and potentially increasing tolerance for the emotional distress so as not to have it manifest itself physically.

Too often, our anxiety about a chronic disease creates a negative feedback loop that, in turn, creates real physical problems, exacerbation on the underlying chronic illness.  It is only in recognizing this phenomenon that we can continue to heal our minds, in an effort to live with minimal disruption of chronic disease.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

My “Adult” Movie

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of engaging in a video shoot for Medtronic Interstim device for fecal incontinence.  This video will serve to bolster Medtronic’s website for fecal incontinence by providing a real face, and story, to the issue.  In coming to my hometown, Medtronic was able to interview me, my doctor, and my family, and capture the impacts on all of our lives from this phenomenal device.

After giving authorization, my family was included in the taping of this promotional video.  In basing this video in reality, I thought it important to give the go ahead for my family to be portrayed.  When trying to explain to my 6 year old daughter what the purpose of this video was, I found myself stumbling over concepts she may be too young to understand.  When asked the question by my daughter, “Will this video be on TV for us to see?”  I was able to give the easy answer of “No, it will be on the computer, on a website.”  When asked the question by my daughter, “Will my friends be able to watch me?”  I was able to answer, “Well it’s like an adult movie.”  In summation, my daughter concluded, “Oh, OK, so we are making an adult movie for the computer website…cool, can’t wait to tell my teacher.”

UH Oh.  Adult movie, computer website.  I am seeing here that she requires more clarification.  I show her my scar and proceed to tell her that the video is about “mommy’s surgery” and we will help tell others that need the surgery that they can get it and be happy and healthy families.  Phew, bullet dodged.  Although, frankly, sometimes talking about incontinence does have the same stigma as talking about “adult” movies.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

This is Me

I am a woman.  I am a daughter.  I am a sister.  I am an educated individual.  I am a wife.  I am a mother.  I am an advocate.  I am me.

I am me.  But, does everyone know the real me?  Sometimes I feel as though I keep a major part of my life locked away, accessible to only those who I know will not judge nor stigmatize.  Since the obstetric trauma, in March 2008, I feel as though I have compartmentalized pieces of myself.  In starting my blog, in August 2011, I became an advocate.  Though largely anonymous, my blog seeks to expose people to the very real ramifications of birth trauma, both emotional and physical.  My journey in blogging led me to becoming a Patient Ambassador for Medtronic Interstim therapy, and a facilitator for our local bowel disorders support group.  These two endeavors allow me to continue my advocacy in a somewhat sheltered and “safe” environment.  Safe from judgement, safe from ridicule, safe from potential embarrassment.

I’m ready for more.  Too often, very real medical issues are glossed over in society because of an “ick” factor, a stigmatization.  I am ready to be a face of birth trauma, of fecal incontinence after childbirth, of PTSD after childbirth. This is me.  I am a real person.  I am a young women.  I suffered obstetric trauma.  I became incontinent of feces.  I suffered PTSD after childbirth.   I got the help I needed.  I attended therapy.  I became an advocate.  I am a woman of triumph. I am ready to share.

I am ready to share with all.  I’m ready to really “expose” myself in the hopes that I may reach people who may never have the courage to seek the help they need without having a very real person to relate to.  I am ready.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

It’s just not funny

Recently, I came across an article about a woman who lost her job due to incontinence.  The headline reads: Opera Singer Can’t Stop Farting After Surgery, Loses Job.  The woman, who suffered a botched episiotomy at childbirth, now endures incontinence issues such as uncontrollable loss of gas and feces.  She is suing the hospital due to loss of control, and subsequently, the inability to perform as an opera singer, her occupation.  As someone who also, ultimately, had to leave her chosen profession due to incontinence and birth trauma issues, I relate to this woman on a very personal level.  I applaud her ability to pursue legal action, and I admire her for going public with this very real, and very embarrassing issue.  I was initially introduced to this story via my Facebook feed, but then dug around for other news outlets carrying the story.  Largely listed under, “weird news,” and on the news feed “gawker,”  I now find this story to be listed in the media as a joke. Well, guess what, it’s just not funny.  Nor, is it “weird news.”  The fact that the media needs to portray an article like this under “weird” eliminates it’s ability to become a mainstream health issue.  Furthermore, the comments listed as a response to these articles are largely littered with middle school level jokes and puns about poop, farting, and loss of control.  So, congratulations media, for making a mockery of a very real problem for a lot of women, and also, creating an outlet for those wishing to relive their middle school years with crude wisecracks.  I’m not laughing.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Speaking UP!

Living with a bowel disorder is not easy.  In fact, it can be downright awful at times.  Besides the obvious physical discomfort, emotional stress is rampant.  As an ambassador for those suffering with fecal incontinence and a support group facilitator for those with bowel disorders, the theme of negativity around incontinence is a prevalent one.  In fact, I urge you, if you are NOT suffering with incontinence, to imagine a day when you may be.  Can you imagine how incontinence would impact your daily life?  I wrote about my experiences in-depth in this post here.  Can you imagine how leakage, urgency, physical pain in the rectal region, would change your outlook on your day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute happenings?

Remaining positive when dealing with your own bowel disorder is difficult.  Oftentimes, bowel disorders lead to increased isolation, as the individual suffering refuses to share such personal information, and/ or feels uncomfortable leaving familiar areas.  Often, people go years, even decades, before opening up about their incontinence to anyone, including health professionals.  This suffering in silence wears down a person, physically and mentally.

It’s time, as a society, to stop being afraid of talking about fecal incontinence.  Let’s not allow “pooping your pants” to be a punchline.   It’s time to create a safe space to identify, share, and discuss incontinence.  Only then, will people truly seek the treatment they need, and deserve.  And, guess what, I don’t mind starting the conversation.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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