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Mitzi's Story

Bowel Incontinence


This story recounts the experience of a patient who is receiving Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy (Sacral Neuromodulation delivered through the InterStimTM System) for the treatment of bowel control problems. Please bear in mind that the experience is specific to this particular person. Not everyone who receives Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy will receive the same results as the patient in the story.

Bowel control problems never stopped me from living a rich, full life. I still managed to do all the things I wanted to do—but the path was always circuitous, and always involved multiple visits to the restroom. My life seemed full but I didn’t realize what I was missing.

Eating out with my husband meant I’d visit the restroom before we left our house, upon our arrival at the restaurant, during our meal, before our departure, and when we returned home. I went shopping only after memorizing the location of every ladies’ room in every mall and grocery store in my town.

I’d always regarded this chaotic lifestyle as normal, having lived it from the time I was a child. A difficult pregnancy exacerbated my condition. Surgery and medications helped me regain some control, but they never eliminated the constant “urge” feeling and occasional accidents.

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MITZI’S STORY Mitzi shares how bowel control issues limited her activities.

My “big episode”—the accident that brought everything into focus—happened 6 years ago. After 17 years as a stay-at-home mother, I attended a licensing course to pursue a full-time career as an assessor.

During the 4-hour final exam, my test mates and I were forbidden from leaving the classroom. I wondered what was going to happen, but forced myself to think positively.

I told myself I would be fine – but I wasn’t. Turns out, during all my thinking and concentration, I had bowel evacuation.

When I turned in my exam, the proctor wanted to chat with me, not knowing my predicament. I politely excused myself and ran out. In the ladies room I broke down in tears.

The next day I met with a specialist who referred me to a colleague.

That doctor got me involved with the evaluation for Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy, which he thought may work for me.

The Evaluation

During the brief procedure, I was implanted with leads that were connected to an external stimulator.

Immediately I felt a difference. The normal, natural abdominal feeling of needing to use the bathroom – and experiencing gas – became brand new to me. I soon began to understand the difference of when I needed to go, and when I didn’t.

And, for the first time in many years, I slept for 7 hours without interruption. What a gift!

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MITZI’S STORY Mitzi talks about her experience with the evaluation for Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy.

During the 2-week evaluation period I wore stretch pants. My stimulator, which I liked to call my “garage door opener,” would fall off my belt. I started wearing a small waist pack which kept it in place.

For me, there was no decision to be made about whether to pursue long-term Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy. The answer was always yes! I’m not afraid of surgery, and I was eager to keep my new life—especially when I realized how much my life had degraded over the past years. I guess for the longest time I hadn’t allowed myself to realise how big the problem was. I was too busy getting on with my life.

Going on to Long-term Therapy

The day of the implant, I arrived bright and early at the hospital. The nurse prepped me, and my doctor explained the procedure and the InterStimTMSystem to me. The surgery itself took less than an hour. I experienced no pain after the surgery, except for the normal discomfort that comes with surgery.

After a couple weeks I developed an infection in my incision site. I was petrified that I would lose the therapy for good—for me, that would have been the worse possible thing to have happen. Antibiotics took care of the infection.

Having the device implanted is a much different experience than just having it outside of your body. When it was outside of my body, I was always thinking about it, always checking it, fiddling with it.

Now that it’s inside of me, I don’t even think about it.

Life with Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy

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MITZI’S STORY Mitzi shares what life is like with Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy.

My wonderful, loving husband has been supportive all along, and my 85-year-old parents are thrilled for me. My friends – even one who’s a registered nurse – never realised the extent of my problem because I kept many of the details to myself.

With Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy, I’m now free to take long walks with my dog and my husband. We usually walk around the lake and back to our home, which is about a 4-mile trek.

If you’re trying to decide if you should try Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy, I would tell you not to wait.

A long time ago I hedged my bets that technology would catch up with my condition. It finally did! Thanks to the InterStimTM System, I am now a participant of life, rather than a viewer.

Medtronic invited this patient to share her story candidly. Not everyone who receives Medtronic Bowel Control Therapy will receive the same results as the patient in this story. Talk with your doctor to determine if sacral neuromodulation is right for you. In addition to risks related to a surgical procedure, complications associated with the InterStimTM System can include pain at the implant sites, new pain, infection, lead (thin wire) movement/migration, device problems, interactions with certain other devices or diagnostic equipment such as MRI, undesirable changes in urinary or bowel function, uncomfortable stimulation (sometimes described as a jolting or shocking feeling), and others. Surgery is required to remove the InterStimTM System. Please refer to Important Safety Information. Always discuss the potential risks and benefits of the therapy with your physician. This therapy is not for everyone.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.