Karen Billington was out to dinner with her husband when she blacked out. When she came to, she discovered she'd had a bowel movement.
"I was embarrassed," the 48-year-old said. Worse, the "accidents" continued after that night. "I'd be at work and feel something in my pants. It was awful!" she said.
For two years she suffered, not knowing when she'd experience fecal incontinence again. She tried wearing Depends underwear but worried that people could tell what she had on from the rustling. She tried consuming more fiber but that made her incontinence worse. She tried an anti-diarrhea medication but that constipated her.
Even though she took care of patients who were incontinent at the VA Hospital in Grand Island, she didn't know where to turn. Finally, she spoke with her gynecologist, who referred her to an Alegent Creighton Clinic physician – double Board-certified Urologist and Urogynecologist Michael Feloney, M.D.
"It turned out I had a lot of nerve damage from childbirth," the mother of four said. "In 2003 I fell through a glass table and had a lot of nerve damage from that as well."
After he evaluated her, Dr. Feloney had her wear an external neurostimulator to find out if bowel control therapy would work for her. The sacral neuromodulation targets the communication problem between the brain and sacral nerves, which are near the tailbone and help control the muscles related to bowel function.
The trial was successful, so Dr. Feloney implanted a flexible wire and a neurostimulator – similar to a pacemaker – under her skin. This modulates her sacral nerves with mild electrical pulses.
Her fecal incontinence ended.
"It was a miracle," Billington said. "I'm so amazed at technology nowadays." She had no side effects from the outpatient procedure. She went back to work and became involved in more outside activities, from long walks to joining a Bible Study group. She was able to take care of her one-year-old granddaughter again.
"I'm so relieved," she said. "I can live a normal life. I can get out and do things more!"
She didn't want anyone else to suffer like she did. "It was such an emotional thing," she said, her eyes filling with tears. "I would definitely tell them to get checked. It's so worth it. It's so well worth your life!"
You are not alone. One in three women is affected by a Pelvic Floor Disorder (PFD). While PFDs are common, they are not a normal or acceptable part of aging. They can often be reversed and effectively treated with painless, low-cost treatments options. We can help.