When a nurse showed me a TAI system for the first time I was sure it wasn’t for me. It involved water, tubes, catheters and a pump. I could picture how messy it would be, and disgusting. Brown water, constant maintenance, constant aggravation...
No thank you.
But one can change...
My history has been shared in earlier blog posts: Searching for a bowel therapy and Take it easy—take TAI. If you haven’t read them, feel free to read them first to understand my original circumstances.
And you should definitely continue to read this one about me becoming a TAI advocate!
I had suffered a Spinal Cord Injury just a few months earlier and was in a phase of adjusting to and rediscovering my life. I had recently returned home and my focus was on trying to understand how I could continue to live in my home, but in a wheelchair. The thought of a messy system in my butt was not really something I pictured as a part of my everyday life.
But I didn’t understand the concept of Transanal irrigation (TAI). Having used the regime for more than 5 years, I know I was so wrong in my initial preconceptions. I had heard various arguments as to why TAI was not a good solution, or something to use in the long run. I want to lay out and provide five arguments for why I believe it’s a regime that should be used far more in the healthcare sector for people with bowel problems.
One of the most embarrassing things that could happen to us as human beings is to poop our pants in public.
Lots of treatment alternatives, such as laxatives and food/drink regimes, don’t really help you. Accidents can still occur.
My experience is that by using a TAI system on a regular basis I can totally avoid that problem in public. I can even eat more or less what I want. Before I started to use TAI it quite often happened that if I was out and ate fast food with family or friends, I needed to use the bathroom directly after we had eaten. My system just could not accept that type of food without uproar. Now I can eat just about anything I like, without any risk of accidents.
Many people with a neurogenic bowel disorder have lost control of their bowel. That includes knowing when they need to empty themselves. With loss of sensation and lost control of your sphincter muscle the risk of accidents or sudden visits to the bathroom is always a factor. When using TAI you regain control of your visits to the bathroom. You develop a routine and you can choose when and where you want to empty yourself. Like most people, you are in control, not your bowel.
3. Time efficiency
Quite a few people with bowel problems spend many hours a day in the bathroom. It’s a constant struggle. Many need to use laxatives of various kinds. Once you are familiar with your TAI system you can empty your bowel in between 20-60 minutes. If you do that every other or every third day, you don’t need to spend so much time in the bathroom. You can pretty much decide when during the day you want to spend that time—it’s very efficient.
4. Fewer UTIs
For people using urinal catheters, urinary tract infections (UTI) are always a risk and for many a constant problem. The most common reason for these UTIs is E.coli bacteria from the bowel. If you use TAI there is a minimal risk of leakage in between the times you empty yourself. If you can control the time you wish to empty yourself, you can also plan to take a shower and thus minimize the presence of bacteria in that region.
5. Less use of medicines
Many of us with a bowel disorder have other health issues as well. And that could include a multitude of medicines. One of the great things with TAI is that you do not need any medicines and chemical products when performing TAI. Just add water! Natural, clean and totally harmless for your body when done correctly. The fewer products I need to fill my body with, the better. I’m sure you would agree.
If you think TAI could be a solution for you, use these arguments and try to find more to convince your doctor or urotherapist to allow you to try it for yourself. Don´t give up, it takes some time to get used to, but it’s worth the commitment, and it could be a life changer for you too.
Don't miss the third and last part of Kent Revedal on stage, talking about his own experiences from TAI!