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Share Your Story – Ian Holland: living with ulcerative colitis & urinary retention

We’re always grateful to our community for sharing their stories and letting others know that they’re not alone with their bladder and/or bowel condition. This week, Ian talks to us about his life with the autoimmune bowel condition, ulcerative colitis and urinary retention.

“I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in the early 90’s and at first I was treated with the steroid medication prednisolone to control the condition. Eventually the medication failed and I started to have painful flare ups, so it was decided in 1993 that I would have surgery to create a permanent ileostomy. My bowel condition caused me to be medically discharged from my job in the Royal Air Force. Sometimes I regret having my stoma but then I think of the pain that I experienced before my surgery and realise that this was the best (and only) option for me. Before my surgery, ulcerative colitis caused me to have agonising stomach pains, sickness and nausea. I also lost three stones in two weeks during the initial stages of the disease. After my stoma surgery, I was really lucky in that I had two good stoma nurses who provided excellent stoma aftercare. They taught me how to change and dispose of my old bags. Dealing with having a bag permanently attached to you can sometimes be hard The issue of body image is so important. It can impact on you emotionally on the occasions when you experience ‘accidents’, especially when away from home.

I no longer experience any of the symptoms of ulcerative colitis as all the affected areas of my bowel were removed during surgery. My colitis was so aggressive that the only option for me was surgery and the formation of a permanent ileostomy.

Around 18 months ago, I also started to experience issues with my bladder and suffer from frequency and urgency.

Having bladder issues affects me on a daily basis, I experience mainly an urgency to urinate and I cannot always hold the urine flow back, which has led to some embarrassing accidents in public.

When I first started to have these bladder episodes, I went to see my GP, who then referred me to a surgeon at my local hospital. After a scan on my bladder it was discovered that I was retaining urine so I was taught how to self catheterise to drain the urine from my bladder and hopefully resolve the frequency problem.

Unfortunately, I picked up a lot of urinary tract infections whilst self catheterising so my surgeon recommended that I underwent the TURP (Transurethral Resection of the Prostate) procedure, this operation involved cutting away a section of the prostate to relieve any pressure on my bladder and urethra. I had the operation in August this year. I was in hospital for around four days following the procedure and the recovery was fairly quick and painless. However,I am still experiencing symptoms of frequency and urinary tract infections so I will be going back to my GP to see what the plan is next. My GP has since sent a letter to the urology team who undertook my operation in an attempt to get me an earlier outpatients appointment so I can see them sooner about the problems I am still having.”