After surviving cancer, Connie Kuc thought the worst of her health concerns were behind her. But an all-too-common disorder crept its way into her life, eventually affecting almost every moment in her day.
It began as bladder pressure and pain, which became more intense over time. Soon the sensation was too much, leading to incontinence.
“One day, my husband and I were driving down a rural road on the way to pick up a new puppy,” Connie said. “The pressure hit me all of a sudden and I desperately needed to pull over, but we were surrounded by open farm land with nothing but a single tractor in sight. Luckily, we found a side road with some trees to act as shelter just in time.”
Connie was anxious much of the time, worrying she may lose control of her bladder and feeling resigned to wearing incontinence underwear she found very unsexy. Frustrated, Connie sought help from her family doctor. As a Registered Nurse with a vast knowledge in health care, she knew she would likely have to see a specialist, so her doctor referred her to a urologist.
Connie made the drive in from her farm near Belgrave to London Health Sciences Centre’s (LHSC) Victoria Hospital. She was fitted with a pessary – a removable device meant to support pelvic organs which may have shifted positions. The pessary wasn’t as effective as both Connie and her care team hoped, and she was scheduled for surgery in January 2017.
To Connie’s relief, the surgery was exactly what she needed. She continues to see LHSC urogynecologist Dr. Yvonne Leong for follow-up appointments and her life is essentially back to normal.
“I suffered from incontinence for four years – two of those years affecting every aspect of my busy life,” she says.
This experience made Connie realize how important it is for women to know what’s available to them.
“I think there should be more awareness and education to help women realize that they can seek help to not only treat their incontinence, but to prevent it as well.”
It’s why Connie is devoting her time to London Health Sciences Foundation’s (LHSF) Women’s Care Campaign, specifically to help fund the new Continence Care Clinic, a donor-funded program in its pilot year of operation.
Through donor support, and a significant gift from Shoppers Drug Mart, LHSC opened the clinic in the Women’s Ambulatory Care space at Victoria Hospital in November of 2016.
Millions of Canadian women like Connie experience some urinary incontinence and it can deeply affect their quality of life. For those who do seek help, they often face long wait times to see physicians specialized in urogynecology.
The purpose of the nurse-led clinic is to better fill the gap in service for patients who would otherwise be facing a lengthy wait to see a specialist, while simultaneously allowing those whose incontinence can be treated through other means to begin treatment right away. The clinic will also create more public awareness of uro-gynecologic disorders, decreasing the stigma associated with urinary incontinence and spreading the word about the importance of kegel exercises after childbirth and other preventative measures. To continue running the clinic and educating the public, donor support is essential.
“The Continence Care Clinic is important because it helps women take back control of their bodies, thereby increasing their quality of life.” – Connie Kuc
The Continence Care Clinic was recently featured as part of CTV's Medical Marvels series.
Watch it here.