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Paul Deacon Male sling

Paul Deacon, who lives near Chelmsford in Essex, is among the first group of patients in the UK to have the male sling implanted. The 63-year-old structural designer describes his experience of stress incontinence and the male sling.

“I was 59 when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Because I was fairly young, it was agreed that a prostatectomy would be the best treatment for me.

I was told that incontinence was a possible complication of surgery. To be honest, at the time I didn’t give it much thought because your focus is all on cancer. If you haven’t experienced incontinence, you have no idea what a pain in the neck it is.

The operation itself went well, but then I became one of the unlucky few. I developed a urethral stricture due to scarring from surgery and needed to have several treatments to open up my urethra.

I knew I would need to wear pads after surgery and was prepared to that.  I wore about two pads a day and it didn’t stop me from returning to work about a month after surgery. But it was very restricting – you always have to plan ahead and know where the toilets are wherever you go. I knew that I was likely to leak if I did anything physical, like go for a walk of any length or digging in the garden.

I was told things were likely to improve over time, but they didn’t. Eighteen months after surgery, I started to make enquiries about whether there were any treatment options for me. I read about the artificial urinary sphincter but wasn’t keen on the idea of a mechanical device and the practicalities of working it, particularly at an older age.

Then a friend who lives in France told me about one of his neighbours who had the male sling implanted. The man was older than me and had a more severe degree of incontinence, but the treatment worked really well for him.

I did some internet research myself and discovered that Jeremy Ockrim was a UK consultant who is experienced in implanting the male sling. I asked my local consultants about him and they confirmed he is a well known specialist with good credentials.

I booked an appointment with Mr Ockrim who explained that although he could not guarantee the male sling would be a success for me, he thought I would be a good candidate because my incontinence was assessed at the mild end of the spectrum.

I had my operation in February 2012. I went into hospital at lunchtime, had my procedure around 2pm and stayed one night before going home at lunchtime the following day.

The operation was instantaneously a complete success. Two days after surgery, I stopped wearing pads. I didn’t even need them straight after surgery – they were completely dry – but I wore them out of habit and for reassurance.

There was a little soreness and tenderness for the first week, but nothing that I would describe as pain. For about six weeks after surgery, there were occasional twinges.

But it is all very minor compared with the enormous benefits of this procedure and finally being free from incontinence. I smile a lot more now. Over time, incontinence really changes your life and affects you psychologically.

Now, I can pick up my grandchildren again, or relax and enjoy another beer with the lads without worrying about the consequences. I have to travel a lot for work and I can simply drive to my destination without having to stop in service stations repeatedly to go to the toilet.

My advice to anyone else out there suffering with incontinence would be to recommend the male sling. It is a procedure which simply does the job it is designed for. In my experience at least, the effects were immediate and life changing. I’m just enjoying getting back to normal and never having to think or worry about incontinence