Joe’s story: Conquering incontinence
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Even at 75, Joe Nerat doesn’t let much slow him down.
A retired journeyman tool maker, Nerat keeps plenty busy. He cuts firewood that comes from the woods on his 120-acre spread just north of Menominee, Michigan. He works around his home, an old farm house that he’s remodeled and expanded over the last 40 years. He works out at the Y.
But incontinence once slowed him.
In 2003, Nerat had prostate cancer surgery. He expected complications, and one of them was incontinence.
“I didn’t think things would get like that. As far as consulting with anyone, this is something you pretty much keep personal, with your wife and your doctor. To be honest with you, it isn’t something you really go around talking to people about,” Nerat says.
The slow but steady leaks of urine forced Nerat to wear adult diapers and pads. He accepted that but eventually grew weary of the inconvenience and indignity that come with incontinence.
“As the years passed, it sort of got worse and worse,” Nerat says. “Being more active, I had more problems with it.”
During a visit to Aurora BayCare Urological Surgeons, Nerat learned of a possible solution to his problem.
Dr. Timothy J. Kennedy suggested the male sling procedure, in which a small synthetic mesh sling is placed below the urethra, lifting and slightly compressing it. That puts consistent pressure on the urethra, which stays closed until the patient chooses to urinate. The sling ends the leaking of urine.
Kennedy’s colleague, Dr. Heather M. Stefaniak, confirmed that Nerat was a good candidate and performed his sling procedure in early 2016. It’s usually done as outpatient surgery. Stefaniak is one of the few urological surgeons offering the procedure in northeastern Wisconsin.
“Ideal candidates for the sling procedure include those suffering from mild to moderate post-prostatectomy stress urinary incontinence, in other words, urinary leakage after prostate surgery,” Stefaniak said. “They’re usually going through one to three incontinence pads per day.
“Joe was an ideal candidate. We were confident we’d help resolve his issues and significantly improve his quality of life.”
The minimally-invasive procedure was exactly what Nerat needed.
“It’s such a minor procedure,” a delighted Nerat said. “I’m almost back to normal.”
Which for this energetic 75-year-old means chopping more wood, putting new siding on the house, painting the house and doing some landscaping with stones, all without worrying about incontinence.
“This is something I would strongly recommend anyone with this problem to have done,” Nerat says. “If I had to do it over again, I would have it done sooner.”
Dr. Heather M. Stefaniak sees patients in Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay. For information, call 888-437-9613 or request an appointment online.
Heather M. Stefaniak, MD, is a board-certified urological surgeon with a subspecialty in robotic surgery. She is the founder of the robotic program at Aurora BayCare Medical Center. Along with practicing at Aurora BayCare Urological Surgeons, Dr. Stefaniak is a clinical assistant professor for the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health. Learn more here.