Shame No More
Help for Incontinence Readily Available
For 10 years, Elizabeth Gill lived with the embarrassment and shame of incontinence, or the involuntary leakage of urine.
To compensate, she wore pads, then thicker pads, then was changing pads with increased frequency. Still, the leakage continued.
“Over time, it got worse,” explained Ms. Gill, a 56-year-old mother of two adult children. “But I was mortified. Here you are this competent, functioning adult and you pee in your pants. It was so embarrassing.”
It took five years for the self-employed Capitol Hill consultant to confide in her primary care physician. “I cried when I told her,” Ms. Gill recalled.
Fortunately, Ms. Gill’s doctor knew help was available and referred her to urogynecologist BRIANA WALTON, M.D., director of Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery at Anne Arundel Medical Center. Still, it took five more years before she could summon the courage to call Dr. Walton.
“It was a dirty little secret,” Ms. Gill said. “I somehow had coping mechanisms for the incontinence. I just had to be brave enough to reach out for help.”
“I was mortified. Here you are this competent, functioning adult and you pee in your pants. It was so embarrassing.”
That bravery—as a single phone call to Dr. Walton— resulted in a comprehensive consultation, testing and assessment that confirmed to Dr. Walton that Ms. Gill would benefit from a TVT sling, or tension-free vaginal tape sling. The sling consists of mesh-like material that is surgically inserted through the vagina to support the bladder neck and urethra, thus allowing for normal urination processes.
“The results are immediate,” explained Dr. Walton about the procedure, which involves just two tiny 1/3- inch incisions. “Ms. Gill had a very weak urethra. For her, this type of sling was most appropriate.”
Following one night in the hospital, Ms. Gill went home the next day. She did not need to take any pain medication, and subsequent minor leakage was resolved at a follow-up appointment.
“When I went to see Dr. Walton, nobody judged me, nobody shamed me,” Ms. Gill said. “Once I met her, the difficulty was all gone. It has been amazing.”
“It has been a life-changing event,” Ms. Gill continued. “The leaking is gone. The pads are gone. The shame is gone.”
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