A former model has been suffering from Fowler's syndrome for over two years, due to which she has been unable to urinate naturally. The rare condition typically affects women between the age group of 20s to 40s and causes intermittent or complete urine retention.
For Leanne Ward, 27, who hails from South Wales the issues began after an unrelated operation in June 2015 for a suspected appendicitis, but the surgeons discovered blood near her pelvis, rather than a swollen appendix. So, they assumed that she had suffered a burst ovarian cyst. After the surgery, Ward expected a full recovery but she discovered that she unable to urinate.
However, she had a short-term relief, after an injection of Botox in her bladder. Since 2015, that was the only time she was able to urinate naturally for three months, Wales Online reported. Post those three months, there was complete urine retention again. A catheter has been fitted which helps her to pass urine.
"I desperately needed to. I was bursting – but I just couldn't, physically go," Leanne told the publication. A temporary catheter was fitted, but later it became a long-term solution. She was taught to use it and insert it on her own. "I was so frightened," she said. "It was so painful having to put it in."
Finally, in November 2015 she was diagnosed with Fowler's syndrome, in which the sphincter muscles of the bladder fails to relax due to the condition.
Leanne was relieved that at least her problem was diagnosed. She explained: "I felt so relieved to have a reason for everything. 'It was good to have answers. It was amazing. It wasn't nice to have Fowler's syndrome, but to have a direction as to where to go next was good."
Recalling the time when she got to urinate on her own, she said: "It was brilliant. For three months – the best three months I've had since 2015 – I could wee. It was supposed to last for nine months but, even though it only lasted for three, it was really liberating."
However, doctors said that undergoing such a treatment again is not good for her and the effects are short-lasting. Leanne currently lives with a suprapubic catheter, which goes through her abdominal wall causing excruciating pain daily.
She said: "It's terrible. I take morphine for the pain and long for the day I can use the toilet normally. 'People don't know that Fowler's Syndrome is a thing. But it is – and it's serious."
She added: "It's so rare that often when I've visited the doctor's or the hospital, people haven't heard of it. But it's an extremely difficult thing to live with."
Therefore, she started awareness about the syndrome by creating a Facebook video about it which has more than 18,000 views.