For me, bowel management has always been part of the game, says 22-year-old Swiss handcyle road race champion, Fabian Recher. Born with Spina Bifida, a malformation of the spine, he has used a wheelchair from an early age and he loves to swap it for a mountain bike, cross-country skis, or his favourite piece of equipment, the handcycle.
The most fascinating aspect about my sport is the speed, the battle between competitors in a road race and the tactics behind it – you have to be able to read the race to win it, says Fabian.
Unlike the World and European Championships, there was no medal for Fabian at the Paralympics in Tokyo. For me as a young athlete, it was a huge highlight to be there at all, he says, looking back proudly.
And to perform at such a high level, he needs to be able to rely on his body, including his bowel management. About two years ago, Fabian changed devices and started with the Navina Classic, Wellspect's manual system for transanal irrigation.
It's become an established part of my routine and I do it every other day. This turned out to be the best option for me and I have no need to change
I heard a presentation from Wellspect at my product supplier, he says. They showed me the benefits and how to use it. Then I just tried it out.
Fabian continues: It's become an established part of my routine and I do it every other day. This turned out to be the best option for me and I have no need to change. He recommends that new users listen to their body while doing it, especially at the beginning of the therapy.
With the frequency, I think you have to experiment, because everybody is different, Fabian tells us. If you have any other problems or questions, you should contact a specialist without hesitation. I had that at the beginning too, and we resolved any issues together, says Fabian. It's worth noting that it usually takes time for the body to become accustomed to a new bowel regime. Key to success is to receive proper training and to set realistic expectations. This is something that can be provided and discussed together with the healthcare professional who is also available for support when starting with TAI.
The change was not difficult for the 22-year-old. Now that it's up and running, he is also very satisfied with the system – although he could imagine trying out Navina Smart. The Navina Smart System works with an electronic control unit, and with the Smart App, allows for the tracking of each irrigation's balloon size, amount of water, water flow rate and duration time.
The main thing for Fabian is the certainty and peace of mind that comes from having full control of his bowel management; he can pursue his sport without worry:
"I can be out in nature with my hand bike and discover new places. For me, that is the beauty of my sport, I have freedom."
Text: Lennart Nickel Lennart_nickel@yahoo.de | Photocredit: Swiss Paralympic / Nicolai Morawitz | https://www.instagram.com/ruthgeorgiev/