A woman whose spine broke during pregnancy in 2009 has regained the feeling in her legs and control of her bladder thanks to a ‘LOO-tooth’ implant.
Candice Wills, 34, was almost paralysed after getting an infection while she was expecting daughter Leilou.
She miscarried at 23 weeks and also lost the use of her bladder and bowels and feeling in her legs due to the infection damaging her spinal cord.
For the past eight years Candice has needed walking aids and a catheter bag which her husband had helped her with.
But she has now had a device similar to a pacemaker fitted to her spine which has had an immediate effect.
It is linked by bluetooth to a handheld device and when she needs the toilet Candice triggers the implant.
It sends an electrical signal between her brain, bladder or bowels and she can then perform the bodily function in a controlled way.
Candice is now using the loo for the first time since her injuries and jokes that she is back “potty training” at the same time as her three-year-old son.
And to her delight she has also been able to feel the bathroom floor beneath her feet as some of the feeling has returned.
Candice, of Plymouth, Devon, said: “When it first happened it was surreal, bizarre and everyone was crying. It was amazing.
“I feel like I have been given my femininity back.”
Candice, who still needs walking aids, has had a total of 15 miscarriages over the years.
The one that left her crippled affected the sacral nerves in her spine and left her unable to feel her legs of control her bodily functions.
She said: “I lost the baby and during a quite harrowing labour, it paralysed my bladder and bowel.
“It left me feeling like I wasn’t as much as a woman and I wouldn’t open up to my husband Drew.
“Not only had I lost the baby, I lost my femininity.”
Despite her condition Candice has managed to have three children with husband Drew – sons Alfiejim, three and Milotom, two, and daughter Mollyrose, one.
She was first offered a trial of the pacemaker-style treatment, Sacral Neuromodulation therapy, in 2012 only to get pushed back each time she became pregnant.
It works by addressing the communication problem between the bladder and bowel and the brain which may be causing the symptoms.
A pacemaker-like device was implanted in her spine to bridge the gap between her legs, bowel and bladder.
It is connected via bluetooth to a handheld gadget and once Candice feels the need to use the toilet she activates it remotely and it triggers her body into action.
The system is set up with differing strengths to control different bodily functions, depending whether she needs to open her bladder or bowel.
Candice said: “It was switched on at 5pm and at 9pm I had a pee all by myself.
“And I could feel the cold floor on the bottom of my feet for the first time in many years.”
Next week Candice is due to have surgery to make the device permanent and finally remove her need for a catheter.
She added: “I think more people need to know about this surgery. GPs just don’t know about it, it can help a lot of people.
“Lots of people have asked questions and asked if it could help them or their nans, mothers and friends.”