For almost a decade Susan suffered from bowel, or fecal incontinence, the inability to control bowel movements. The need to have a bowel movement would come on so quickly that she couldn’t get to the bathroom in time. Or she’d have no sensation of a bowel movement at all until it happened.
Nearly 18 million American adults, about one in 12, have fecal incontinence, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Researchers say the number could be higher because people who have it are often embarrassed and reluctant to talk about it to anyone, including their primary care doctors.
What she did was undergo a 45-minute procedure performed at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center by Dr. Joseph Thornton, a colon and rectal surgeon who implanted the InterStim’s small neurostimulator disc in her right upper buttock, creating a pouch much like a heart surgeon does when implanting a pacemaker in a patient’s chest. Through a tiny wire, the device delivers an electrical pulse to the sacral nerve, which controls bowel function.