Welcome to the Autumn edition of Bridge. In this issue we focus on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), clarifying the differences between them and acknowledging that loss of bowel continence can be experienced by many people with these conditions.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a collective term for chronic inflammation in the digestive tract, namely Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The main symptoms are pain, diarrhoea, fever, weight loss, fatigue and potentially anaemia. Symptoms may be different for each person and range in severity from mild to more serious, depending on the level of inflammation. Given the similarity to other digestive conditions, several tests usually need to be done to ensure accurate diagnosis.
Although Rhiannon’s journey with Crohn’s disease began relatively recently, the striking thing about her is her determination to put the things she loves foremost in her life. Rhiannon went from being very fit and active to developing a condition which she says has completely changed her life. However, she is determined to get on and do the things she enjoys, like travelling and socialising with friends.
Since the launch of the BINS4Blokes campaign in June 2021, 50 businesses, councils and other organisations have joined the call to support over one million men around Australia who live with incontinence.
At least 1.34 million Australian boys and men are living with urinary or faecal incontinence today, however male toilets do not provide a hygienic and dedicated disposal method for incontinence products such as pads and pull ups.
Whilst travelling in Europe during a heat wave several years ago, Emily became extremely hot and thirsty. Heading to the nearest water fountain she had filled up her water bottle and drained its contents before realising the water wasn’t suitable for drinking. “The next day I was standing in a queue for the Uffizi gallery in Florence when I realised I urgently needed to get to the toilet”, she says, “I literally ran to the nearest one and sat there for quite a while before I was confident to leave“.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Definition: recurring abdominal pain at least once per week in the last three months with two or more of the following features:
Kathryn Sloots is a Registered Nurse with a science degree and PhD who has worked for 18 years in the areas of bowel and bladder continence (including anorectal biofeedback, urodynamics, research and education). She has published several papers on bowel continence and presented at continence conferences.
By Nicole Torrington, Senior Marketing Officer
Leanne has always been a traveller at heart, having visited 30 countries before she turned 30. She had met her husband in Ireland, spent time in London and regularly went to visit her best friend who lived in Germany.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides individualised support for people with a permanent and significant disability. The scheme is administered by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and is designed for individual control with greater flexibility and choice.
What will the NDIS fund?
Stephanie Thompson lives with a non-visible disability, having experienced a traumatic childbirth injury and severe pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Birth trauma can cause significant debility for many women and Steph has had to consider a disabled parking permit as sometimes she cannot even walk 100 metres.
When Cherilyn Fox speaks, teenagers listen. Cherilyn’s mission is the prevention of alcohol and drug related trauma in youth. When she tells her story to a group of 200 kids all eager to get their driver’s license and hit the road, she says you could hear a pin drop. Sharing images of the car accident scene where she had to be resuscitated several times, and hearing about her multiple injuries, including a severed femoral artery (the main artery supplying blood to the leg), requiring a thigh high left leg amputation, tends to leave her listeners speechless.
With Amy de Paula, NSW Clinical Services Manager, Continence Foundation of Australia
Amy de Paula has extensive experience working with the NDIS, both in her former role as an Occupational Therapist (OT) and in her current role as the NSW Clinical Services Manager for the Continence Foundation of Australia.
Jaydan is 25 years old, lives with cerebral palsy and has used a wheelchair for most of his life. For the last three years he has worked voluntarily for the Children’s Hospital Foundation, on site at the Queensland Children’s Hospital where he helps people with directions and provides information on the services and support provided by the Foundation for sick children and their families. In this environment, Jaydan estimates that approximately 50 to 60 per cent of people have a mobility issue, so he feels like he blends in.
The United Nations defines people with disabilities as ‘those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.’
Readiness for kinder and school – toilet training
Janie Thompson, Nurse Continence Specialist and Clinical Services Manager talks about readiness for toilet training
By Nicola Reid, Media and Health Content Writer
Sophie* is a 32-year-old woman who has three children. During the birth of her first child, she had a difficult time, experiencing a long labour and having to push for over two hours. She was exhausted and eventually the obstetrician had to use forceps to help deliver the baby.
When 24-year-old Christin Young walked into the urology clinic at a major Sydney hospital, she was struck by the fact that she was the only person under 30 in the room. “There was nothing to validate me as a young person experiencing incontinence,” she says. “There was no information at all about urinary problems in young people and I felt it reinforced that incontinence is an older person’s issue and it was not okay for me to be experiencing it.”
Amanda* first noticed bladder weakness, manifesting as urinary urgency and frequency, after the birth of her first child. At the time she thought it was just something she had in common with several of the women in her mother’s group. “This is when I started the ‘I better go just in case’ routine because I didn’t want to be out and wet myself,” says Amanda*.