Sling Surgery Restores A Patient to Active Life | Stephanie’s Story


(gentle music)>>I really did suffer in silence. I did my best to hide it. I was ashamed of it. It was embarrassing, the idea that this is what’s going on, and did anybody else notice? To be public about it
was not an easy choice. It is so common that if I’m
willing to talk about it, there’s a lot of people
who need to hear it. I’m Stephanie Richards, and for 15 years I suffered
from stress incontinence. So whenever I tried to do active things, live a very active life, I always had a problem
with my bladder leaking, and it ruled my life. For 30 years I’ve been a volunteer diver at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Diving is a very strenuous activity. Having stress incontinence meant that I just always had to
think about being protected. So whether it was in the car, my purse, my back pocket,
I had pads everywhere so that I would never
be caught unprepared.>>Child: There she is!>>There are a lot of women out there who are suffering with
urinary incontinence and don’t seek treatment. And women don’t have to suffer in silence with this condition. There are many options we have, both surgical and non-surgical, to help improve their quality of life.>>How did I come to help Stephanie? Well, we’re dive team members, and we were talking about
my surgery that I had, and that led to further questions. And she saw the changes that
it made in my lifestyle, in being able to do the
things that I wanted to do without having to cross my
legs every time I sneezed.>>It’s good that I had a
chance to talk to Becky, because if I hadn’t talked
to somebody who had done it, I wouldn’t have known
that there’s a specialty in pelvic floor disorders. I wouldn’t have known that there were several options for surgery. And depending on what your situation was, there’d be recommendations
for you to choose from. And when I met with Dr. Patterson, she really made me feel comfortable. I was even laughing about the situation as we did the evaluation. I was the one who would
stop at the bathroom every time I passed a bathroom.>>So we did a surgery
called a sling procedure, which is a minimally-invasive procedure where we make a small
incision in the vagina, and we use little
needles to pass the sling up behind the pubic bone, so that it creates a
hammock around the urethra. So that then when the urethra moves with increases in
intra-abdominal pressure, such as sneezing, coughing,
laughing, exercising, it helps prevent leakage of urine.>>To be able to discuss it
to find out how common it is, it just took the stigma away. It brought it into the open to discuss, to research, to solve.>>All right, thank you. I don’t feel any different. Actually, afterwards I was
kind of like, did they do it? Is that it, really? Procedure takes 30 to 40 minutes. I went home that day, rested,
binged Netflix, you know. (group chuckling) And then sat around
thinking, I really did it. I can’t believe I really did it.
>>Wow, wow.>>And then you wait.>>How long?
>>Six weeks.>>Six weeks you put in–
>>To let it heal, to let things settle, to let things be strong enough, and then–>>I got to pamper her.>>Yeah.
(group chuckling) I did, I took advantage of it all I could.>>The other message I would
really like people to know is that it is never too late to come and have something done. So, a lot of women think they’re are too old to have surgery or there’s no other options for them. But there is always something
we can do to make this better.>>The biggest change is
I can be spontaneous now. I have a new grand-nephew
who is just all energy, and keeping up with him, to be myself without
having to pay this price, it’s amazing. Dr. Patterson gave me my life back. I was unprepared for how much this was going to change my life, and I’m so grateful. I can’t thank her enough. (triumphant orchestral music)

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