New treatment has “freed up my whole life”

For over 30 years, paraplegic Donald Berry has suffered with incontinence, but thanks to a new treatment his life has improved drastically with the help of the FINCH team at Sandwell Hospital.

He has suffered with both faeces and urine incontinence, where a patient can’t control their bowel movements, since he was paralysed in a motorcycle accident in 1981.

Donald, 50, said: “I had always been treated with suppositories or enemas, which were what was traditionally given to treat the symptoms of faecal incontinence. I used to have to get up in the morning and have to insert the suppositories and have to sit for an hour to empty my bowels.”

He came into Sandwell Hospital in May 2013 having broken both his legs. While on the ward he hadn’t passed faeces for 12-13 days so Liz Clarson came to visit from FINCH, the faecal incontinence service, who taught him how to use irrigation to clean his bowels.

Donald, from Bearwood, continued: “Irrigation is cleaner and makes me less paranoid about bowel care. When I was using suppositories I would occasionally have accidents, but I don’t with this system.

“This treatment totally revolutionises your life. Now I can do it at any time during the day, if I am busy in the morning, I can do it whenever I want to. It is cleaner and quicker.

“Liz is absolutely fantastic. She didn’t ask me to do anything she wouldn’t be confident doing. Liz came up to the ward, showed me how to do it and helped the nurses become used to it. She even showed the nurses how to do it. Their help and support has been first class.

“The irrigation system has totally freed up my whole life and it is so much more comfortable than using suppositories. The team’s help and understanding have been excellent and they have helped make things better for me.”

Bowel Functional Clinical Nurse Specialist, Liz Clarson said: “After talking to Donald, it became apparent that he had been struggling to manage his bowel care since his motorcycle accident, and that his bowels and bladder pretty much controlled his life.

“I taught Donald and the ward staff how to use an irrigation system which empties the left side of the colon.  This allowed Donald to gain control of his bowels rather than his bowels controlling him which improved his quality of life considerably.

“We see lots of patients like Donald, who have suffered for years with faecal incontinence or constipation and this has a devastating effect on their quality of life.”