Pelvic Dysfunction, What’s Your Function?

The update you’ve all been waiting for!!! See how I lightened up this painful topic with a song? You’re welcome.  

Oh yes, back in March, I revealed a health issue that isn’t as uncommon as I initially thought: Pelvic Floor Myalgia.

This is where I give you the TMI warning. I get it. Discussing Dysfunctional Pelvic Floors isn’t everyone’s pint of beer. 

I am knocking on a year since I was diagnosed, and began physical therapy treatment. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year, although… sometimes I forget what life was like without this craptastic issue clouding my daily life.

Here’s what I’ve learned since we last talked. Quick Disclosure: I’m non-medically-minded. This is MY experience. If you are experiencing any of these issues, or think you may be suffering with a dysfunctional pelvic floor, talk to your doctor.

  • You guys want to know how I’m doing, and you want to tell me about your health issues, too. 
    • But… privately. Sisterhood FTW! And brotherhood in some cases… It’s not just a female issue. 
    • I received SO much support when I poured my heart out about my “broken vagina” — but you wouldn’t know it from the 2 measly comments on the post. I received countless emails, texts and phone calls, and I still am, 7 months later! I’m stopped in the most random of places, church, bars, school hallways, asking how I’m doing. I was even confronted about my broken vagina post while I laid half-naked, in stirrups by my urologist as she held a shot full of injections. Shoutout to my awesome urologist —> I highly recommend!!!
    • The stigma many of us experience, by having to suffer in silence through whatever health issue we’re dealing with… sucks. Especially if you can’t explain it in a nutshell without making people wince and squirm. It is nice, however, to know we’re not suffering alone.

  • A year later… some people… including myself… are sick of having to deal with my dysfunctional pelvic floor. 
    • The mental toll physical health issues can take on me, and my loved ones was a bit of a surprise.
    • My husband wants to know when I’ll be “better” — my friends want to know when I can travel more than 3 hours without pain. The truth is, I’ve learned to live with the pain on some level. Which I will go into deeper into the next bullet-point.

  • Trial and error sucks, but I’ve had to learn what works for me. 
    • A Gluten-Free/Caveman Diet was a big, huge thing my urologist still keeps telling me I should adopt. I tried it for 2 weeks, was still miserable, and in pain, so I went back to clutching my beloved IPAs, which… no surprise here, beer actually gives me some level of relief. This is one of the many things that work for ME. A few other people I’ve talked to that have dealt with this issue have admitted to finding relief through eliminating certain foods from their diets.
    • Find what works for you. This should be true for just about anything in life, as we are all different.
    • Trial and error may feel excruciatingly time consuming (especially for someone like me, who wants results yesterday) but when you find something that does or doesn’t work — that’s a win, and you can move on.

  • Sitting is the new smoking. 
    • This is a direct quote my yoga instructor. Yes, I’ve gone back to the yoga studio, and while it hasn’t provided me with a full spectrum of relief — mentally, it is helping, and that is a definite win. Yoga is also getting me moving… which helps prevent me from sitting for long periods of time. Who knew sitting could be so destructive?! But once I correlated a flare-up with my sitting for too long, it was a good lesson. Cue the breakdown:
      • I have to remain conscious of how long I’ve been sitting.
      • After 30-45 minute of sitting, I have to walk around, even if it’s just to the bathroom and back to my bar-stool, then I can probably sit again, but I have to rinse and repeat this act every 30-45 min.
      • Writing… has become a challenge. Think about where you write. Do you stand? Do you lay down? No, unless you have one of those fancy standing-or-envy-inducing-treadmill-desks, you probably sit. I hate making excuses about my lack of writing on my own personal space, but… this is one reason this has been a low-blogpost-year for me. I have found that writing in bed is ok, as well as standing at my kitchen counter. Alternating laying/standing and walking while trying to soak up a good writing flow takes time and patience. But overall, it has sucked out a bit of the fun out of writing for me.
      • Movies are tough. If I can’t lay down, and/or take a break (as in, if I’m at the movie theater with my kids) I HAVE to find a way to take a good walk, or… lay down after.
      • If I’m driving somewhere, rest-areas are my friend. They seem to be spaced out well enough so I can get a quick walk in every 45 min. A bonus to this issue? When I do go for an 1hr+ drive somewhere, and I know I’ll be close to a loved ones’ house where I can take a break + visit them for an hour — it’s a huge help, in many ways.
      • A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Another cliché-esque quote that I’m saying to myself… because it’s true. If I’m active all day, I may be tired at the end of it, but the pain isn’t as bad as if I was sitting all day.
      • If I do have to rest, finding a comfy spot is key — I can’t sit in my recliner anymore, I have to lay down in bed, or on the couch with a pillow under my legs for my Thursday night Shonda Rhimes fest. #TeamJake!
      • Wow, this is a lot of bullet points about sitting — but seriously… it’s a big issue for me.

  • Stress = flare-ups. 
    • Like many people with physical and mental issues, stress and anxiety will cause my body to tense up, and BOOM. Charlie-horse in my vagina. Good times. 
    • On the positive side of that — when I’m having fun with my friends and family, in a stress-free environment… my pain diminishes nearly completely. Sure, alcohol is usually involved in these situations, but not always.

  • Injections are my friend.
    • Oh… injections. I talked a lot about the painful first round of injections in my first post about my dysfunctional pelvic floor. Let me tell you, the injections have gotten easier. The first time doing anything is scary because of the unknown. Well, that and with injections… you’re sticking a needle… WHERE?! But I’ve been getting injections every 6-8 weeks, and each time, it is a little easier. They aren’t Vaginal Injection Parties… but, I’m no longer crawling up the wall with each poke. I get them done in the office, and… get this... I go by myself now. The hubs came with me for the first few rounds, but when he was out of town for a round earlier this summer, I decided to try to go alone… and I was fine. Felt like a rockstar after, to be honest. Hey, I’ll take it.
    • Injections do not provide me with instant relief, (I’ve heard this varies from person to person) but the relief does happen gradually over the next few days, and I can lead a somewhat “normal”  life (whatever that is) for about 6 weeks before I may encounter a flare-up and need another round.

  • Physical Therapists rock. 
    • Let me expand on this, and not just because they may be reading this, but I feel my urologist and my physical therapists are my friends at this point. They know about my kids, I know a bit about theirs. They know about THIS crazy blog. They have seen more of me than many of my awesome readers out there!! HA! I work with about 4 ladies, 3 p/t and one urologist, and when I stopped going to physical therapy on a weekly basis, and came back after a 2-month absence recently, they were all so excited and happy to see me, even if they had to help me through some pain. Friends.
    • Urologic Physical Therapy isn’t easy to schedule. Like I mentioned in my first post, this may seem like a foreign issue to many, but it’s fairly common, and the demand and need for patients of all ages to receive treatment isn’t always as easy as coming into the office at the drop of a hat. Because I’ve been going for so long, and now go on an as-needed basis, I have become friendly enough to learn the hoops I need to go to in order to get in as soon as possible. See the lesson here? Be nice to the people who are trying to help you!

  • Momma’s Other Little Helpers.
    • In between injections/physical therapy, I still have to deal with some level of pain, even if it’s diminished, I still have bad days. The following works for me…
      • Baths/Showers. My tub is tiny, so I’ve learned to fill the tub, and still use the shower head to help me through some pain nearly every day.
      • TENS unit. Electrode therapy is something I used within physical therapy sessions, but now I have my own personal unit that I can use as needed, and I highly recommend looking into one if you have chronic pain.
      • Massage. My pain may be rooted in my pelvic floor, but it almost spiders out, up and down and all around. The latest victim has been my sciatic, which requires massage and stretching to get through it. The hubs tries to keep up with my massage needs, but I try to “splurge” on a professional massage once a month, and it’s money well spent.
      • Yoga. As I already mentioned above — my 90 minute yoga class makes for a beautiful morning, and typically a good day I can count on, mentally and physically.
      • Walking. Seems so…. simple, it’s almost stupid. Again, the body in motion bullshit is true. Dammit.
      • Putting a little alcohol on it. I’ve already mentioned how beer/alcohol actually helps me, instead of hurting me. While I’m partial to my locally-sourced craft-beer, I do love a good Bulleit Rye, Neat. Could alcohol be considered a mental escape? Maybe? It seems to temporarily numb my pain, instead of causing further pain, and helps me have fun. I’ll take it! For some people with DPF, alcohol could cause a flare-up, so use caution! 
      • Sex. Another form of therapy that works for some, but not for others. For me, sex depends on my level of pain. Sometimes sex helps, sometimes, it makes things worse. If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I am not a quitter. Painful or not, I rarely turn down the opportunity for sex. Wait, what? You know what I mean… Let’s change the subject…

  • Kids. Are. Awesome.
    • Look, I know I can bitch about my kids with the best of ’em; kids aren’t easy, especially when you’re dealing with a chronic physical issue that can limit fun. My kids have tolerated my dysfunctional pelvic floor issues with more grace and understanding than anyone, even though they’ve had to miss out on a few things. They’ve expressed so much love, I truly wish I could bottle it. They get it when I have to lay down under a heating pad or take a long bath.
    • My kids are the #1 motivators that literally gets my sorry ass out of bed some days.

Whew!! For my amazing rockstar readers that stuck around to read all of the above, thank you. GOLD STAR FOR YOU!

I don’t know what the future holds (does anyone?) Is this is something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life,? One day, will I wake up and not have to wonder when my next round of vaginal injections will happen? I’m trying not to question the long-term, and to take things one day at a time. I’m doing what I can to make the most of my good days when I have them, and taking it easy when I need to. Trying not to feel guilty when I have to say no to things I just don’t have the tolerance to deal with, and yes to the fun things I hope will help me escape the bullshit when necessary.

Living my best life, and finding ways to laugh through my dysfunctional pelvic pain? Challenge accepted.

Posted in Life | Tagged , , | 8 Responses

Stumbling Through the Awkward…

To say I had an awkward childhood is an understatement. I was klutzy and unathletic, and could possibly fill a book with stories of my embarrassing unathleticism (yes, this is totally a word). I had to wear coke-bottle glasses with tape over one eye because of my lazy-eye… my mother didn’t realize that just picking up a $5 eye patch would’ve been WAY better than scotch-taping one side of my already ugly ass glasses. Did I mention I was only 6 years old? And how my mom wore the exact same glasses? Yeah. Good times.

My oldest turns 10 next week. 10. A full flippin’ decade. 10 years ago, at this very moment, I was miserable. Hell, I should’ve been holding my baby at that point — she was definitely cooked, locked and loaded at this point. She tipped the scales at almost 10lbs! After enduring 2 and a half days of pure hell pitocin-induced labor, culminating with 3 hours of failed pushing, I was sliced open via emergency c-section and wondered where the hell they pulled that 3 month old baby out of, because it certainly wasn’t me.

While that birth experience will be etched in my brain as if it happened last month, probably for all eternity, a full decade has whizzed past me. Yes my friends, as cliche as it sounds — childhood goes by in the blink of an eye.

My 10 year old had to start wearing glasses last year. Eyewear has dramatically improved over the last 30 years, so her glasses = adorable. But over the last few months, as she began 4th grade, tiny bits and pieces of adolescent-awkwardness have appeared.

Acne. Frenemies. Mood swings. Peer pressure…

BEER ME.

I have been trying to talk to her about the changes, without scaring her. Because… this is only the beginning. WAAAAH!!!

I’m still dealing with moments of awkwardness.

I’m still learning.

I’m still stumbling.

Do I tell her that? Do I tell her that it doesn’t necessarily get better? That there are times where I need a beer because life can truly suck ass and there’s nothing else to do but attempt to escape the shittiness for a few hours by drinking? Probably not a lesson to teach a 10 year old, but… I digress. Right now, her means of escape = books and listening to indie and classical music in her room. So, that’s a definite win. A nerdy win, but I’ll take it. Hey, I escape in nerdy ways too (she says as she types out a blogpost) with a beer in hand, of course.

I’ve accepted the fact that we’re stumbling through adolescence together. Instead of ignoring her issues, pointing out weaknesses, or simply yelling like my mother… I am doing what I can to help her discover her best self.

I’ll say things like… Yes, acne sucks. Here is some medicated cover-up so we can fix it and forget it. No, I’m not putting makeup on my nearly 10yo… it’s a small way of helping her to be her best. To help her maintain some shred of focus and confidence. Acne sucks, but to me, helping her treat, conceal and heal it is like brushing her hair. I’m not going to send her to school with bedhead. Why would I send her to school with untreated skin issues?

If only mean-girl problems were as simple to treat as acne. Because that’s another issue entirely.

My nearly 10yo has a close-knit class of 14 kids. Most of them have gotten along with each other fantastically since preschool. Boys/girls — didn’t matter. They were friends! End of sentence. That changed this year. Some of the girls feel pressure to have a BFF — and — as you know — you can only have ONE BFF. So there’s issues of exclusion that I am VERY familiar with. FOMO is real, and fuck… it starts young. Manipulative minds develop young too, I suppose, since I know my daughter holds in her shit until she BURSTS at the least appropriate time. I don’t know anyone like that. *shutter* I believe that some of her friends have realized how to push some of her buttons and when they get the reaction they were hoping for… BOOM. They win. Not fair. But kids are kids, and these are the lessons, right?! *sigh* 

Finding the age-appropriate tools to get my 10yo daughter to understand that people who treat you like shit don’t deserve your friendship is a huge challenge. That just does not make sense to an open-hearted 4th grader who just wants to be friends with everyone. I tell her to stand up for herself, because she’s awesome! If others don’t see that… too bad. Again… right over her head.

I try to point out what she kicks ass at — how creative and artistic she is, how she can sing, and read long, challenging books, how cool it is that can code on the computer (yes, really), and how she has this crazy-awesome memory when it comes to detailed facts about animals. Even though we’re balancing issues like acne and haircuts and glasses… I try to avoid focusing too much on looks or superficial things — because that shouldn’t matter… like… ever. Yes, she’s adorable and beautiful inside and out, but why is that always the first line of “defense” when it comes to talking to our young daughters? Like, that magically fixes everything? We don’t tell boys “But you’re so beautiful, inside and out! You can do anything!” when they’re stumbling through a bad day. I mean… I don’t have a son, so maybe I’m wrong… but I’ve never heard someone utter that stale line to a boy as much as we spew it out to girls like verbal diarrhea.

This Sarah Silverman quote grabbed me by balls I didn’t even know I had… but really, it makes so much sense.

SarahSilvermanQuoteGirls

I do think both of my daughters have the capability to be anything. I don’t say that out loud (shhh), but I believe it to be true… but first, they need to find a way to trudge through the bullshit adolescent years. When I think about the changes my girls will face over the next decade, oy. It makes my head spin.

I can’t fix everything. I’m trying to listen. Practice compassion, offer support, lead by example by just being a good, strong person, avoiding drama when I can, laughing at the bullshit when necessary.

I can’t protect my daughters from everything. I can’t baby-proof their life anymore.

I’m trying to patiently *bwhahaha!* guide my oldest daughter through the awkward age of adolescence while knowing full well she has to stand on her own two feet and learn lessons through the stumbles. Because that’s where the humor is. I had to discover that on my own. And I certainly didn’t learn it at age 10.

Awkwardness is easier to embrace and laugh at as you get older, but… that may be the alcohol talking. There, I said it. 

Posted in family, Life | Tagged , , | 6 Responses

Alaskan Brewing

alaskanbrewinglogoAlaskan Brewing knows how to make an entrance.

I was recently contacted regarding their addition of Michigan to their distribution map, with the question “Would you like to try some of our beer? Where should we send it?

Less than a week later, a case of Alaskan Brewing Craft Beer arrived, and I was GEEKED.

To say I love my job is an understatement. 

I always felt this innate desire to visit Alaska, and I feel I took a virtual trip via pint-glass as I made my journey through the case Alaskan Brewing generously sent me.

I am fairly partial to my Michigan craft beer, being a Michigan gal living in Beer City, USA. I feel our close proximity to the fresh, clean water in the Great Lakes has a bit to do with the delicious Michigan beer our friendly brewers create. Add in the midwest charm and creative juices — boom. Deliciousness in a pint-glass.

Alaskan Brewing carries a similar vibe to my beloved Michigan beer. Their water originates in a 1500 square mile Juneau Ice Field, and from more than 90″ of rainfall Juneau receives each year. That fresh flavor I adore seemed to pour out of each sip I took. They say isolation forces creativity. The isolation of living on the island of Juneau has inspired brewers to create a mouth-watering flood of flavor! The flavor is certifiable — Alaskan Brewing has won more Great American Beer Festival medals than any other craft brewery… ever. EVER!

Would you like to take a journey through Alaska via pint-glass? Let’s go!

Let’s start at the very beginning, I hear it’s a very good place to start. The beginning meaning… the Gold Rush.

Alaskan Amber
Marcy and Geoff Larson spent 3 years perfecting a 100 year old recipe Marcy discovered on shipping records from Douglas City Brewing Co. (1899-1907). The article listed ingredients for this Alt (German for “old”) beer with a description on the way it was brewed. Alaskan Amber became their Flagship beer, made with ingredients believed to have been around when folks were digging for gold 100 years ago. The flavor is smooth with a few layers of flavor, beginning with the malty aroma, and finishing with carmel and toasted nuts. At only 5.3% ABV, it is a very sessionable beer, something you could drink all day, while digging for gold, or chasing your children into bed on a school night.

Icy Bay IPAIMG_3804.JPG
Hello, my name is Kelli, and I love IPAs. Hi Kelli. If wanting an endless supply of Icy Bay IPA on hand at all times is wrong, I don’t want to be right. At 6.2% ABV, it is something I could drink more than one of without question. IPAs are traditionally brewed with a large amount of hops for their preservative properties. The Summit, Apollo and Cascade hops provide Icy Bay IPA with an intense hop flavor and citrus aroma, completing each sip with a punch of more hoppy goodness in the finish.

Fun factoid: the name Icy Bay is a tribute to the surfers who ride the waves of Yakutat and Icy Bay, as the air and water temperatures are well below freezing, and water temps are not much higher. The bold, brisk taste of Icy Bay IPA is meant to match the intensity of a remote ride of a a wave breaking on an Alaskan beach.

Hopthermia
Alaskan Brewing has created a Double IPA that highlights everything I want a DIPA to be. Not too heavy, and something I can drink without requiring a siesta a half hour after my pint glass is empty. At 8.5% ABV, Hopthermia isn’t as sessionable as the Icy Bay IPA, but the balanced flavor will put a smile on many beer lover faces — not just hop-heads. The rich malt flavor paired with, are you ready… Nugget, Apollo, Amarillo, Citra and Centennial hops take your mouth on a fun roller-coaster ride through carmel and spicy citrus notes. I tell many of my thinks they are anti-IPA friends to try a double IPA sometime before they decide they are anti-hops. Certain DIPAs are like a gateway drug. Hopthermia is a delicious adventure to embark on.

Freeride APA
I arrived at this Pale Ale toward the end of my tasting adventure, and I was disappointed when these bottles were empty. There is a reason Freeride earned Gold among pale ales at the US Open Beer Championships last year. Being such a hard-core IPA lover, Pale Ales are not always my favorite style as they just don’t pack the punch that an IPA does, at least for me. But I believe Pale Ales may be making a comeback… starting with this beer from Alaskan Brewing. Freeride American Pale Ale started as a springtime staple for Alaskan’s backcountry skiing and snowboarders, then quickly morphed into a favorite for kayakers, bikers and hikers. The balanced crystal malt and light citrus hop flavor and aroma make this 5.3% ABV Pale Ale very drinkable any time of the year.

Pumpkin Porter
When you receive a package of beer in the middle of summer, the last style you would think of is… pumpkin. Let alone a Pumpkin Imperial Porter. But my taste adventures through Alaska did not end with a whimper. While I was leery of the traditional Pumpkin Ale going Porter, I was not disappointed. Alaskan Brewing features in-house smoked food and beer. Their Smoked Porter is a local favorite (and has won MANY medals). This Pumpkin Porter was the heaviest out of the case I received. Even if it didn’t have the highest alcohol at 7.0% ABV, it felt like a meal in a pint-glass. Made with 6 different malts, including smoked malt, brown sugar and a comforting blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. But let’s not forget the star of the show — the pumpkin. Pumpkins were first used in beer as a substitute for hard-to-find malt. George Washington — yes, the father of our great country — had a highly touted recipe. Yeah, that’s right, I’m waiting for my call from Drunk History for this fun lesson. 11lbs of pumpkin are added to every barrel of this porter, giving the beer a smooth, velvety rich flavor.

Special shout out to the good people at Alaskan Brewing for hooking me up with a trip-to-Alaska-via-pint-glass! I truly enjoyed my adventure and hope to visit the brewery in person someday soon!

In the meantime, you can find Alaskan Brewing in your neck of the woods by checking out this distribution map.

CHEERS!

Posted in beer, Beer-Of-The-Week | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
  • About Me

    Kelli Williams

    Kelli Williams

    Keeping up with 2 little girls, writing assignments, music gigs, the house, laundry, ETC, backwards, wearing ass kicking boots and a smile, without spilling my beer. Ok, ok, so I spill my beer, but my floors have never been more germ-free since I started putting a little alcohol on them. Who needs ammonia...

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