I have MS which has mainly affected my autonomic system resulting in a neurogenic bowel. Unfortunately, today many people (whether they have MS or not) suffer with bowel problems. Constipation is often under-recognised as a problem yet can really affect your quality of life which can in turn make you feel miserable, frustrated, bloated, uncomfortable, and embarrassed and ….be really time consuming!
My initial reaction was to try treating myself with lifestyle changes in diet, exercise etc. However, many years later it became apparent that I was just not winning, and the problems just continued to get worse. It was starting to have an impact on day-to-day living. I felt ashamed trying to hide it from my family feeling it was something I should be able to control. It reached a stage where I literally was unable to go to the loo at all due to the nerve damage, so, I HAD to do something about it.
In control again – Transanal Irrigation
To cut a long story short my MS nurse referred me to our continence team, and, after unsuccessfully trying laxatives, suppositories, you name it, we tried it, I was introduced to Transanal Irrigation (TAI), with an electronic bowel management device. It was very daunting at first being presented with this new age technical device. However, after meeting a specialist nurse who guided me, every step of the procedure was clearly explained. The unit is incredibly easy to use and at long last I felt 'in control' again. I was able to make plans, regain some spontaneity and had more confidence.
Ongoing phone support
The aftercare from the home delivery service has been incredible. The support team are always there at the end of the phone ready to answer any queries or help solve those little issues you may come across.
My Advice for others
Do not suffer in silence. You are never alone in this, there is always someone you can turn to for advice when you are struggling, and it feels like nothing is working. With summer approaching, just think you'll be able to book that well-earned holiday and, remember do get a travel document that will take you through customs with your 'TAI kit' without having to explain what is in your little black bag!
Have courage and go for it. Give it time and you will get there in the end!