A three-hour boat ride to a remote cabin wasn’t even a consideration before Mary Jane Johnson-Olson found options for urinary incontinence.
Johnson-Olson returned from a 21-day trip to Alaska where she visited her son, whose cabin has an outhouse. Her niece also took her on a three-hour boat ride up the Salcha River to a remote cabin without plumbing.
“I couldn’t have gone on this trip if I hadn’t got treatment,” says the 86-year-old Pequot Lakes resident. “Before, I could not plan a trip without looking for places that had a restroom. And once I got somewhere, I had to first look where the restrooms were.”
During her Alaskan adventure, she climbed two glaciers and toured Denali National Park and Preserve. It wasn’t until she arrived in Fairbanks that she learned her niece planned to be married at the remote cabin. She jumped aboard an airboat to travel with the wedding party.
After years of suffering from urinary incontinence, Johnson-Olson turned to Dr. Bradley Qualey and Physician Assistant Jessica Brandl in the Urology Department at the Essentia Health St. Joseph’s-Brainerd Clinic.
They helped her find a solution that allows her to travel and maintain her busy social life.
Johnson-Olson said she had put off dealing with her incontinence because she believed the only option was surgery, which she didn’t want. While Qualey was caring for her husband, she asked about her problem and learned there were many treatment options.
She first tried behavior modifications and then medicines. She found lasting relief with a non-invasive procedure called posterior tibial nerve stimulation. The treatment uses electrical pulses to stimulate a nerve running from the ankle to a nerve near the bladder. The 30-minute treatment calms the bladder, usually for a month.
“It’s painless,” she said. “It’s sitting for 30 minutes with your legs up.”