Ambassador 1 – Pam’s Story
Pam is a content, married mother of two happy and successful daughters. Until returning to Australia ten years ago, she and her daughters followed her husband, Alan who travelled the world as part of his job. On retiring, they moved to a picturesque town in country New South Wales; and shortly afterwards decided they needed a challenge and moved to a 200 acre farm half an hour out of town, where they have 5 horses, 2 dogs and 70 head of beef cattle.
Pam has never been diagnosed with a disease nor has she received a defined medical prognosis. It just happened that through her adult life, she slowly lost bowel control. There was no specific cause, no obvious onset. When attempting to map the progress of her personal trial, Pam believes the first hint of her issues may have been when she was a Hospital Chaplain in her early forties. A couple of times while on call, with the knowledge that she was responsible for the whole hospital, an excess of nerves led to the evacuation of her bowel.
Over the following years, Pam found her body’s reaction to infection, excessive eating or drinking became extreme. Any stomach bug she caught would go on for weeks before it would resolve itself. In one case, while living in Dallas, Texas, Pam remembers becoming very ill. She had been to Australia and Singapore, visiting friends and family. On return to Dallas, Pam came down with a nasty case of diarrhoea. This continued unabated for 2-3 months, during which time Pam was put through many tests to attempt to determine the cause of her continued infection. No reason was found, so Pam was forced to accept her situation until finally it resolved itself.
Shortly after moving to the farm, Pam’s situation declined, until it became a constant problem. Unable to rely on her bowel control, Pam could not depend on her ability to get the 20 metres from the shed to the bathroom in time. Pam’s attempt to find a solution for her bowel problem was unsuccessful - her trusted family doctor could give her no explanation. She was bound to the farm, especially in the mornings, and embarrassed about her condition, which affected her daily life.
Although she found the situation extremely humiliating, Pam was lucky to have the farm. It meant she was able to leave the house, and continued to ride, and roam the 200 acre property in privacy.
"Going out to the paddocks…I had an incredible shame about it, even though it didn’t matter, nobody could see me, nobody would know – it just felt bad."
After 6 years in this untenable position which did not improve, Pam finally went to a new GP.
One visit with her new doctor and Pam was referred to a Colorectal surgeon at St George Private Hospital, who immediately suggested Sacral Nerve Stimulation for Pam’s situation. After some deliberation, Pam agreed to the initial trial to determine if the therapy would be suitable for her.
Pam was implanted with a trial stimulator. Two electrodes were implanted beside the nerves at the base of her spine, and an external box was given to her to control the stimulation in this area. The trial implant was to last two weeks, to confirm that the therapy would be successful. Pam quickly noticed a difference, with improved control, and a returned awareness of her bowel. Delighted with the results of the test stimulator, Pam went on to the next stage, and was fitted with a stimulator as a permanent implant in January 2008 (see the page on ‘treatments, Sacral Nerve Stimulation’ for further information).
"It is not perfect, but it’s really really helpful for me. It makes a huge difference, because I have a few minutes – maybe 10 minutes - knowing that I need to go to the toilet", Pam said. "Occasionally, when I get into trouble it is usually because I have been out of routine, or I have an infection, or I have had a lot to eat or drink, and that might happen once a month. But it is fantastic."
Shortly after her operation, Pam had to return to the clinic, as she did not feel that the stimulator was working as well as it had initially after the implant. After increasing the voltage to the electrodes, Pam finally had the opportunity to return to her normal lifestyle.
When asked about the physical affects of the implanted sacral nerve stimulator, Pam commented that there is a sensation, some slight pain, "Since the voltage has increased, I get a little pain sometimes, but it doesn’t worry me because I know it’s working." Generally, Pam no longer notices the feel of the stimulation, unless she consciously thinks about it. The implanted stimulator, placed below and to the rear of her right hip, is well placed to avoid bumps. Pam can even ride her favourite horse, Winston, without any problems.
Three months after implant, Pam was comfortable enough to head to Paris alone for a two week holiday – the first holiday for 8 years. "I took myself off to Paris for 2 weeks – in April. I said to Alan, do you want to go to Paris? – we hadn’t had a holiday in 8 years. He said no – he’d look after the animals, and I took myself off to Paris." Pam has also begun teaching French again after many years away. Having discovered a group known as U3A (University of the Third Age), Pam travels into town once a week to teach French to other retirees. U3A is an international organisation, originating in France, and currently has over 40,000 students Australia wide.
After her operation, Pam is again comfortable accessing her three favourite things – her family, her horses, and her French, "I stay here now, because I like being here, whereas [before] I felt that I needed to stay here".
Just email Pam
This patient testimonial relates an account of an individual’s response to the treatment. The account is genuine, typical and documented. However, the individual’s response does not provide any indication, guide, warranty or guarantee as to the response other persons may have to the treatment. The response other persons have to the treatment could be different. Responses to the treatment discussed can and do vary and are specific to the individual patient. Please consult your healthcare professional for a full list of benefits, indications, precautions, clinical results, and other important medical information that pertains to the therapy or products discussed.