Case study 2

Case study

Kyle was a 20-year-old athlete on the gymnastics team and in training for the Olympics. He practised each day before and after college. One afternoon he was in the gym practising landings when he landed awkwardly and he knew immediately that something was wrong. Staff at the club called an ambulance and he was taken to the local hospital. From there, he was airlifted to a spinal injuries unit where it was confirmed he had a fractured C4 vertebrae and was paralysed from the chest down.

He spent a year in a rehabilitation facility and missed a year of education. When he was finally allowed home he moved to a specially adapted house. He has a carer 24/7 and is dependent on assistance for all activities of daily living.

He uses a catheter and his carer helps him with his bowel regime, which involves abdominal massage, oral laxatives and manual evacuation.

Kyle knows exactly what works for him and is an expert in managing his own bowel regime, but explains that any change in this routine can upset his bowels. He says his life has changed dramatically and the hardest part is having carers to help him with his personal hygiene and toileting needs and the humiliation this causes. The psychological impact is immense, according to Kyle.

He says the things that have helped him the most with regards to his continence are:

  • not having a relative do his bowel care. A carer is less personal and I can accept them doing it as its part of their job.
  • privacy and knowing no-one will interrupt while my carer is with me.
  • being able to tell my carer what does and doesn’t work for me. It gives me some control.
  • having a good rapport with my carer. We are serious when we need to be, but we enjoy life and get on with each other. We trust each other.
  • making sure I drink enough fluid
  • keeping a bowel chart
  • healthy eating as much as possible.

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