West Fargo woman found the courage to seek treatment at Essentia for incontinence – and is thankful she did
In this day and age, there are still topics surrounding women’s health that many find embarrassing or difficult to discuss. West Fargo resident Cyrisse Wietstock would like to help change that.
After struggling with and overcoming incontinence thanks to expert care provided by Essentia Health, Cyrisse is sharing her story with the hopes of eliminating the stigma surrounding this condition and empowering more people to speak up about their health – no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
Cyrisse’s struggle with fecal incontinence started after she had back surgery and became worse after undergoing a procedure on her heart.
This condition was having a major impact on Cyrisse’s life.
“I was living more and more like a hermit,” she said. “I was actually relieved that I didn’t have to leave my home too often because of the COVID pandemic.”
After one incident in cardiac rehab that resulted in her falling off a treadmill due to complications, Cyrisse met with Essentia Health physician assistant Stephanie Severson.
“Stephanie was the first health care provider who asked me about my bowel movements,” she recalled.
At first, Cyrisse was embarrassed to discuss her bowel difficulties, but she says Severson made her feel at ease by saying “I’m in the poop business” to help convey how common these types of issues are. Severson then told Cyrisse that Essentia Health OBGYN Stefanie Gefroh could help.
Dr. Gefroh determined Cyrisse’s muscles that allowed her to control bowel movements had deteriorated. Because pelvic physical therapy didn’t work, Dr. Gefroh suggested an InterStim implant, a medical device that emits a continuous, mild electrical pulse through a wire to stimulate sacral nerves, which strengthen the sphincter complex.
Dr. Gefroh told her that she had taken care of fewer patients with bowel incontinence compared to urinary incontinence. She also said the patients she had implanted with InterStim for bowel incontinence had excellent results. Cyrisse was willing to try anything and remembers saying, “The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work, and my life will still be miserable.”
To Cyrisse’s’s astonishment, the InterStim trial did work, and she experienced an immediate fix. She is no longer “miserable,” having returned to a more normal lifestyle.
She says that whenever she speaks to health care providers, she urges them to have more open and candid conversations about topics like poop and sex. She says that normalizing these conversations can make all the difference in their patients’ lives – especially for their female patients.
Cyrisse hopes her story will inspire more individuals to speak up and seek care if they are suffering from this condition.
“If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that this condition can be fixed and there is hope,” she shares. “Be brave, find the courage to say, ‘I’m having trouble’, and go see Dr. Gefroh.”
Of Cyrisse’s experience, Dr. Gefroh stated, "I am incredibly pleased to see Cyrisse gain confidence and joy in her life again. It was such an honor to help her. I know that talking about urinary and fecal incontinence can be scary, so I want to break down the barriers and empower women to find their voice. I am so proud of what we can offer and excited we are adding a urogynecologist to the Essentia OBGYN team this fall who is further specialized in helping women with these issues."
Did you know that one in three women are impacted by either urinary or fecal incontinence? If you are experiencing symptoms of urinary or fecal incontinence, make an appointment with one of Essentia’s skilled OBGYN providers at EssentiaHealth.org, via MyChart or by calling (701) 364-8900.