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.

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