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Patient Perspective: Ellen’s Story

After the birth of my 2nd child, I began experiencing urinary incontinence.  I started leaking a bit here and there, and it only got worse as I got older. I assumed it was just a part of aging and that there was nothing I could do. And while the episodes were embarrassing, I was able to control and hide them pretty well by wearing protection and always keeping a close eye on the toilet. 

However, when my youngest was 15 years old, I had my first real bowel accident, and life as I knew it officially changed.  I began having more and more episodes, and eventually didn’t even want to leave the house because I was so terrified of having an accident.  I stopped seeing friends. I ordered groceries and most things I needed online.  I refused to go on dates with my husband.  There is something that feels just a little bit worse about having a bowel accident vs. having a bladder accident – it’s messier, smellier, much more apparent, and just so humiliating that you never want others to know it is something you are going through.

I lived like this for six years before finally realizing that I wasn’t controlling my ABL, it was controlling me.  I got up the nerve to speak with my doctor and was able to have a surgery that helped alleviate many of my issues.

All of this could not have come soon enough – my first granddaughter was born a year ago and to think that I may have missed out on that moment or all the wonderful ones that have followed makes me cringe. My only regret is that I didn’t do something about it sooner.

Ellen T., Atlanta, GA


One Response

  1. Twelve years ago and due to repeated attacks of diverticulitis (6 severe attacks within 8 months) my gastroenterologist suggested surgery to remove the diseased section of my colon. 10 or 12 inches of my colon were removed and a 1 cm cancer was found in one of the pockets. Six months of intensive chemotherapy followed. Since the surgery I have had to deal with erratic bowel movements, having to be close to a bathroom when I have eaten first thing in the morning.
    The rush to the bathroom seems like a trigger reaction when eating the first meal in the morning.
    Since then I have repeated bouts of uncontrollable bowel movements and at age 88 I am becoming more and more concerned about a time when I will be unable to deal with potential "accidents", repeatedly soiling myself. I believe the sphincter is no longer responding properly and the loss of some 12 inches of colon as well as the surgery might be the cause of my problem. Any suggestion and advice would be extremely welcome.

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