Janet suffers from MS. She was initially referred to a nurse with bladder problems. However, once these were solved she mentioned that her bowels actually caused her more issues. Below is a Q&A with Janet:
What sort of problems were you having with your bowels?
Basically I was just incontinent, everyday.
I tried taking tablets to bung myself a little bit, but I had no control of my bowel whatsoever which was becoming very embarrassing
I stopped wanting to go out because once you’ve been incontinent doing your weekly supermarket shop and had to run to get to the loo to sort yourself out its just gut-wrenching. I’d got to the stage where I was saying to my friends and even my husband “I’m not going anywhere, I’ll stop at home, you go and enjoy yourselves” simply because I had no control whatsoever of my bowels.
I definitely wouldn’t go somewhere that I didn’t know where every single toilet was. I even got to the stage where I knew where every toilet was in Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield, in Barnsley, in Wakefield and even Leeds. It wasn’t that I needed to go to the loo, but I went and sat on every toilet just to try and it never worked because I still had accidents which were devastating.
Had this been going on a long time?
Yes, a very long time. Originally I saw someone to sort my urinary catheters out, but it was my bowel bothering me more than bladder. In some ways its easier to cover up bladder incontinence but this isn’t really possible with bowel/faecal incontinence.
I had a scan which showed that not only had the MS played a part in my bowel condition but also child birth had left scar tissue. It also showed I had a short sphincter which contributed to the incontinence but the MS was the biggest contributor.
What techniques had you tried to improve your incontinence?
I tried a programme at my local teaching hospital which aims to retrain your bowel, it does help a lot of people but mainly due to my MS condition it didn’t work for me.
Then I tried a different diet and made a food diary noting down everything I ate and which foods made symptoms worse. I didn’t like this at all because it meant I was hardly eating any of the foods I liked. My life was governed by eating no fruit, no vegetables and just trying to bung myself up but it didn’t work and the incontinence was still happening.
How did you find out about bowel irrigation?
As I mentioned, I had a nurse visit me to help with my urinary catheters and mentioned my bowel in passing. The nurse explained about bowel irrigation, some of the options available and showed me a video on the internet. The IryPump looked like the easiest system to use and I was so motivated to try it I contacted my GP almost immediately.
How was it at first using IryPump?
All the way through its been really easy. I watched the video a few times so I knew what I was doing, it was really easy to set up and it really is so easy to use, its just amazing. I didn’t find it any trouble, it’s the best thing that’s walked into my life!
From the first night I used it I saw the difference straight away. But it took me quite a few weeks to realise that it was working and to believe that I could go out without worrying about being incontinent. When I use it I can go 48 hours at a time, I’m just so happy its changed my life so much.
It took some time to get into a routine. Personally I put the water in three stages, 500ml at a time until I feel like I am fully empty.
Roughly how long does it take?
I irrigate every 48 hours and it takes about 20 minutes in total to irrigate. Its probably 45 minutes from set up to cleaning and putting it away.
I do it about 8pm at night, just because I want that security that I am at home as I still worry about accidents. However, not once have I needed to go to the loo in between irrigations.
I think I could even go longer than 48 hours but I stick to my routine.
So, are you now going out?
Yes, I get in the car most days which I couldn’t have done before I found IryPump. Plus recently the biggest thing of all; I’ve been away on holiday to Menorca for nearly a month with my pump and I’ve actually toured the island on a bus with my husband with no need for toilet visits. I would never have even gone on a holiday previously.
Anything else to add?
Just that it has completely changed my life. Yes it takes 45 minutes every 48 hours but I just cannot tell you how much its worth it. IryPump is so discreet, I just tell my friends I’m going to nip off for half an hour to the loo and they don’t bat an eyelid.
If my story helps another person find this product then it has been well worth it but it has just changed my life. I even ask others at my MS group about their bowels as I think they should all know about it!
So would you now say you were clean and dry?
Yes, with a little help from my friend!!