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Vaginal Pessary Device or Prolapse Surgery? 14 Years Later, She Chose Surgery

January 28, 2022

Lynnette Valentine avoided prolapse surgery for years, using a pessary medical device to keep her uterus and bladder from protruding from her vagina. The pessary helped the 57-year-old Meriden mother function for more than 14 years, fixing a problem she attributes to giving birth to two large babies, now ages 18 and 15, and the strain the pregnancies put on the ligaments holding her organs in place. Every day, she’d faithfully insert the ring-like device and the upward pressure it provided would fight the pull of gravity and the resulting organ prolapse. “It definitely impacted my life. I couldn’t run, couldn’t bend over without it falling out,” Valentine says, adding that she felt the pessary never fit properly. “It would even come out when I had a bowel movement.” But she adjusted to every challenge, even the intense cleaning the device required. When the down­ward movement of the organs began to affect her urinary continence, however, her healthcare pro­vider referred her to Dr. Elena Tunitsky, a specialist with the Hartford HealthCare Tallwood Urinary & Kidney Institute. After explaining that Valentine needed a procedure called a laparoscopic sacrocolpopexy designed to re-sup­port the vaginal support that that holds the bladder and the rectum in place in her pelvic cavity, Dr. Tunitsky offered her the option of having laparoscopic or transvaginal surgery. On Feb. 4, she went into the hospital for the former and spent just one night before going home with a renewed sense of life. It’s been wonderful — like I never had a problem before! she says. I should have done this a long time ago! Several months after the procedure, Valentine says she feels able to do almost anything. Yard projects like reseeding the large lawn would have normally been relegated to her husband because she needed to avoid the lifting and swift movements. But this summer she says she was right beside him, toiling at the project for hours. “I’m so grateful to Dr. Tunitsky!” she says.