Sunday, March 18, 2012

Feet in the stirrups, please

I am alive.  I have survived.  I know, you are glad, aren’t you?

I had my first pelvic exam in many years with NO PAIN!!!  My last exam was probably 8 or 9 years ago and I was crying on the table while the doctor tried the exam (she even tried numbing gel, however I couldn't even handle her touching me downthere).  After recently overcoming vaginimus, I was still a little nervous about this exam on Friday.    Dr. R is a really amazing doctor (in spite of the bow ties) so I felt ok going to him.  He must have been delivering babies the night before or doing surgery that morning.  He was wearing scrubs with his doctor’s coat over them, no socks and black dress shoes.   He came in and asked me how I was.  My reply, “I’m here”.   He put his hand on my shoulder and told me it would all be ok.   I told him that I had done 6 weeks of physical therapy and our conversation went a little like this:

Angie: “I did really well in physical therapy; I was able to overcome my vaginismus in 6 weeks.”
Dr. R: “That’s great, how did you like physical therapy?”
Angie: “I loved it! Wait, that sounds a little weird.  It wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be.”
Dr. R: “Well! I get an ‘I’m here’ response about you seeing me, but you LOVED physical therapy.  Way to give a guy a complex.”

This exchange made me laugh, and I felt even more comfortable with him.  If you can make me laugh, my nerves get a lot calmer.   He got me into position (feet in stirrups, ass nearly hanging off the table) and then pushed a button on his phone.  A minute later his nurse comes in and asks him what he needs.  He just needed her in there with him.  This is a little odd, considering he normally doesn’t have his nurse in the room when he sees Dawn, but I think he was just making sure he had a bodyguard in case it hurt and I kicked him.   Dawn sat up by my head holding my hand during the exam (awwww).  Everything went FINE!!!  He used a smaller speculum and went slow with everything he did, letting me know what he was going to do before he did it.  This is key in vaginismus recovery.  I am in charge of everything that happens to my body.  If I needed him to stop, I just tell him to stop.  And I was 100% sure that he would stop if I asked him to. 

Once he was done, he gave me his hand to help me sit up and bowed, saying “you are my hero”.  He was proud of me! 

I told ya me and my vagina are awesome  :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Vagina Advocate

As my physical therapy comes to an end, what’s next for me?  I have a passion now to become an advocate for women.  I want to see women get the help they deserve to live a life free of pain when having sex, to be able to use tampons, etc.   So, I started looking online to see what I can find to get involved in. 

Through my physical therapist’s website I ended up on the International Pelvic Pain Society’s website.  On the front page was an article written by Amy Stein, a leader in physical therapy for chronic pelvic pain sufferers and author of Heal Pelvic Pain, regarding a Dr. Oz show that was done in 2010 on vaginismus.  Amy  is the founder and a practitioner of Beyond Basics Physical Therapy in NYC, specializing in pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic pain, women's health, and manual therapy for men, women, and children while taking a holistic approach to each patient's entire well-being.  Long story short, they consulted with her about physical therapy treatments for vaginismus, but never talked about it on the show as a treatment option.  I watched a video clip of the show and was sorely disappointed in Dr. Oz (not that I ever really watched his show, he kinda creeps me out anyways).  I sent Amy an email telling her I agreed with her article about how Dr. Oz missed the mark on this one.  I also asked her how I can get involved in helping women.   She gave me some suggestions and asked me to read her book and do some online reviews.  I also wrote the Dr. Oz show telling them I was disappointed; however I am not getting my hopes up about getting a response from them.  One thing she recommended has really gotten me excited.   She told me to reach out to Elisabeth Oas who does a weekly podcast on chronic pelvic pain, The Pelvic Messenger What a woman!  I was able to connect with her on the phone one day and immediately loved her!  She has been through so much with her health and I commend her for becoming an advocate and a voice for women everywhere who suffer from chronic pelvic pain.  She suggested a few things locally that I can do to raise awareness.  I am considering contacting a local news station to see if they would be willing to do a story about pelvic pain and all the women who suffer from it.  Also, I will be doing a short video answering questions about my vaginismus to be used in a trailer for an upcoming documentary she is producing for PBS on chronic pelvic pain.  AND, there is the possibility that I will be a guest on her podcast this summer to talk about my experience with vaginismus and overcoming it!  

I have also been able to up my blog exposure a little bit with some help from friends so I’m hoping to reach women through my blog too.  I also may be helping start a support group in the area with some women who are on the vaginismus forum that I go to occasionally.   So many things on the horizon!

If you are a woman who has pain with sexual intercourse, or you are unable to insert anything in your vagina without pain, please talk to your doctor.  If you are uncomfortable with that (or if your doctor tells you it’s all in your head), send me an email and I will talk you through finding someone who can help you.  You deserve to be free of this!   Today, for the first time in my life, I used a tampon.  Granted, it wasn’t in exactly far enough I don’t think so it wasn’t the most comfortable thing, but I HAD ONE IN!  I was giddy.  I was dancing down our hallway.  I have also been able to add in a little something extra into my sex life because of overcoming vaginismus.   I say all of this to say – YOU CAN OVERCOME THIS TOO!