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OPINION

'Now I'm in a role where I can change things for patients'

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Continence nurse specialist Julie Fawcett reflects on how she is able to help patients.

Since starting my post as a continence nurse specialist one and half years ago, I have been able to care for patients the way that I have always wanted to. I know this sounds daft, as I have been a nurse for 10 years!  What I mean is that I am now in a role where I can change things for patients.

One example is of a young lady that I have been seeing for some time who suffers from multiple sclerosis.  She was diagnosed approximately four years ago.  At the time we met, she was having numerous problems emptying her bladder as well as having a great deal of urinary incontinence.  These problems were impacting on her work and home life significantly. If you have cared for patients with this condition, you will be aware of how debilitating it can be. I tried many techniques to help her empty her bladder but all of these were unsuccessful.

We then decided that we would have to try intermittent self catheterisation (ISC).  

Initially, she was horrified at this idea (which you can imagine); however, as time went by she became accustomed to the fact that this was our only hope. I spent a lot of time with her until she felt she was competent to carry out ISC alone.  This was, at times, difficult, as she suffered from extreme fatigue.

I was inspired by her true determination and motivation to learn this skill so that she could improve the quality of her life.

Now, she uses ISC once per day, often before work, and is able to travel to and from work safely. In addition, she has regained her social life with her friends, something that she gave up when she started experiencing these problems.  On one of my last visits to her, she thanked me for allowing her to regain control of her life.

I feel that I am in a very privileged position to be able to help her, and patients like her, to improve symptoms that have such a huge impact on everyday life.

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