My life changed when I had a RTA (road traffic accident), September 1990, resulting in a L1/T12 complete lesion. Like most people affected by spinal injury I spent quite a few months in rehabilitation and finally went out into the ‘real’ world in April 1991. Going out into the world is scary! Not only did I have to cope with access issues, restructuring both my working and private life but also having to control incontinence.
The main issue with having limited bladder capacity is how quickly it becomes one of the top priorities. Life is governed by where is the toilet and emptying on time to avoid accidents. In reality this meant that though I worked, it meant frequent trips to the toilet, which was not always convenient and could be embarrassing. It was a triumphant day if I managed to get through one without an accident!
Then there was the issue of overnight, I became addicted to conti-sheets, due to leakages arising out of limited bladder capacity. Use of a conti-sheet, with a partner present, is not an attractive thing to have to share!
Staying overnight or going on holiday was not comfortable as any change to routine tended to result in accidents. We were always keen campers and enjoyed snuggling up in a sleeping bag, this was out of the question with the leakage problem.
Overall the lack of bladder capacity meant frequent bladder emptying, limited options both at work and socially and this inevitably eroded confidence. It is hard to feel attractive and ‘normal’ with the constant pressure of bladder emptying and possibilities of ‘smells’ hanging over all of one’s endeavours.
Choice of treatments
My first and preferred option for emptying the bladder was via intermittent cauterisation. Though frequent emptying of the bladder was required it meant I had no tubes and bags to deal with. The down side of this option was the frequency of use and leakage over night and occasionally during the day.
UTI’s were another issue, though not appearing serious or making me feel unwell, they did irritate the bladder and increase accidents.
How does the Finetech Brindley Control System benefit you?
The installation of a Finetech Brindley stimulator revolutionised my life. Professionally it allowed normal working patterns to resume, without any embarrassing rushing off to the toilet or offensive smells. Socially I can go out, visit friends' houses, go to restaurants and not worry about the extent of the visits as the bladder capacity has been extended back to normal parameters. I now go camping, cycling, swimming and not worry about accidents. I can use aeroplanes, jump into other people’s cars, transfer out of my chair in complete confidence. I know that I have not and will not, have an accident. In a nutshell it has given me back ‘normality’ and the ability to empty my bladder when I want too.
What would you like to say to other potential users (patients) about the Brindley Bladder Control System?
Having used the stimulator over the past 18 years, I would without hesitation recommend the installation and use of this device. The freedom it has given me is without measure. I don’t have chronic infections. I can wear what I want (shorts, dresses, swimming costumes, bikini etcs!). I can participate in sports, work and social activities. Best of all I feel almost normal as I use the toilet like anybody else and my bladder does not dominate my life any more.
Jo Wright is 49 and works as a Facilities Manager in the UK.