I am now, officially a robot. I have successfully gone through the Interstim procedure in both stages. I have a battery implanted in my back. This connects to a wire that stimulates my sacral nerve. Check out my blog articles “A Long Road That Ends With Surgery” or “I Had Surgery.” Those are the prerequisites to understand this one. This nerve stimulator helps to give me more control of my bladder. If you’re unfamiliar with nerve stimulators, I’m going to explain a bit more.
I have been dealing with urinary incontinence for almost a year. I am unlike people with urge incontinence or overactive bladder. I leaked small amounts of urine. I would leak all the time throughout the day. Most days I would leak up to thirty times in small dribbles. That equates to about three pad changes. I phrase it like that because when you’re undergoing treatment, that’s how they quantify the amount. The goal of my neurostimulator was to control the messages my bladder was getting.
With Dysautonomia, my nervous system is in a constant state of attack. My heart fluctuations send my body into fight or flight multiple times a day. My neurologist hypothesis is that my bladder was getting signals to go all the time. So it leaked until I contracted my muscle to actually go to the bathroom. The neurostimulator is used to improve this communication. I have had about 95% of symptom improvement with Interstim. This means that I still have singular drips of urine about two or three times a day.
This is a huge improvement. It’s difficult not to feel discouraged when I had hoped for perfection but it does make a big difference. The stimulator itself is not uncomfortable. The sensation varies depending on the program I’m on. Often, it feels like nothing more than little pinches every now and then. It’s difficult to describe what it truly feels like. I was given the option to have two different types of batteries. One lasted five years and required no maintenance up until the need for a new battery. The other lasts fifteen years or more but has to be charged every week.
I now have to charge myself. For me, I wanted out of getting another surgery. Five years felt too close. I weighed the options between weekly maintenance and once surgery and decided. It’s easier for me to integrate charging into my daily routine. I don’t know where I’ll be in five years and I don’t want to have to worry about it. They gave me this choice thirty minutes before they wheeled me to the operating room. I didn’t have much time to think about it. Overall, I think I made the right choice.
I’m excited to have new freedom with my nerve stimulator. I still feel nervous one day it will stop working. I often want to check to make sure I haven’t leaked. It’s new and probably will feel new for quite some time. At least now I can call myself a robot.