New bladder gives Mandarin resident her new normal
Up to 32 times a night, a rare bladder disease had taken hold of Lisa Mitchell’s life. So doctors made her a new one.
A dinner out with a friend. A road trip to Orlando. An uninterrupted night’s sleep and living pain free. This is Lisa Mitchell’s new normal.
For more than two years, the 46-year-old suffered from severe pain in her pelvis and back because of a nonfunctioning bladder. Sometimes she would go to the bathroom 60 times in 24 hours and up to 32 times a night. At work, she would get up from her desk—at times every 15 minutes—to use the bathroom. Travelling for her sales job became impossible.
Mitchell often lived with catheters to help empty her bladder and would wear loose clothes or long dresses to hide the bag attached to her leg. Biopsies of her bladder turned up no cancer. Medications and therapies didn’t help. She was hospitalized when her kidneys started to fail. Mitchell’s doctors were running out of options.
She was ultimately diagnosed with follicular cystitis, or FC, a rare and non-specific inflammatory disease of the bladder, and inflammatory pseudotumor of the bladder, which is a rare, benign condition of multiple lesions.
“The pain was overwhelming in my pelvis and sometimes it would shoot through my back,” said Mitchell, who lives in Mandarin. “You don’t have control of your life. You can’t sit through a movie or go to the mall. You can’t do anything. It controls you.”
She found a solution in January after her urologist connected her with Seth Strope, MD, urologic oncologist surgeon and head of urologic oncology at Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center, after trying some additional treatments with no success, Mitchell opted to have her bladder removed and a new one made out of a portion of her small intestines.
“Inflammatory pseudotumor looks like sarcoma, but it’s not malignant. It’s also not normal and she wasn’t recovering,” said Dr. Strope, who performed the surgery April 6 at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville. “We tried to treat conservatively to see if we could preserve her renal function. But despite efforts to relax her bladder and help her bladder function, it was progressively getting worse so she choose to undergo surgery.”
Dr. Strope, assisted by Mitchell’s urologist Charles Cobb, MD, removed her bladder, using robotic-assisted surgery and making small incisions that spared her reproductive organs. From about a foot of her small intestine, Dr. Strope constructed a pouch and placed it back in the same position as her original bladder.
The new bladder, called a “neobladder” was attached to her ureters, the tubes that carry urine produced by the kidneys.
“She’s doing very well,” Dr. Strope said. “Now she can sleep through the night. Her quality of life is better.”
All the pain and inconvenience she endured was worth it in the end, Mitchell said.
“I wanted something as natural as possible and to be able to leave my other organs in place. I was all for it. I just wanted something to help me,” Mitchell said.
She is grateful to Dr. Strope and Dr. Cobb.
“It’s a big miracle,” she added. “I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am. I can do things I have not been able to do for a long time. I only get up once or twice a night. It’s the difference between night and day.”
Mitchell said she’s back to working out at the gym for the first time in three years. She is out enjoying friends and going on long rides to Orlando and Savannah.
“I’m so happy to go out and enjoy myself,” Mitchell said. “Just like that, I feel normal again.”
While not every bladder problem is as extreme as Lisa’s, frequent urination, pelvic pain and incontinence are very common issues among women of all ages. That’s why, in addition to offering advanced surgical options, Baptist Health also offers unique wellness resources for women through its 4her Center for Women – including the Total Control© pelvic health and wellness program. For more information about options for pelvic health and wellness, or a referral to Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center, contact 904.202.4her (4437).