It’s Not Over

Eight weeks and a day since my surgery for pelvic organ prolapse (hysterectomy and sacrocolpopexy). The recovery was harder and slower than I expected, but I’m doing much better now. I seldom have any pain. As of this week, I am back to work full time (part-time these past three weeks). I get tired faster than usual, but essentially I’m fine.

There are a couple of caveats to that. I have to use an estrogen cream in my vagina twice a week for a year. It really hurts to touch it. Everything inside feels hard and tight and sore. the back wall of my vagina (god, whoever thought I would be writing about this part of my anatomy?!?) feels like it’s made of tight ropes, with no flexibility. I honestly cannot imagine how I am supposed to ever have intercourse. It just seems like it will hurt so much. Sometimes I’ve thought maybe the surgeon sewed everything too tight.

I said something about how tight and tender it was to my husband and to E. Both of them said something to the effect of “like a virgin again.” They are both usually a great support, but in this case, they didn’t get it at all. I didn’t find that remark at all amusing. First of all, if we are going to get technical, I don’t really know when I was a virgin. So it’s an emotionally confusing topic for me. Secondly, it HURTS to touch it, so it’s a physically distressing topic. It doesn’t seem like it can ever be a source of pleasure. That worries me. Maybe, I hope, it just takes a long time, like everything else in this recovery has taken a long time. Maybe.

So today was my eight week check-up with the surgeon. The speculum hurts, but I breathe through it.

“Everything is fine,” she tells me.

Okay, good. It’s not that anything has gone wrong with the surgery. I ask her about the tightness and soreness. She pokes a little more.

it's not over #gynecology #hysterectomy #survivors laquemada.org“It is tight,” she agrees. “But it’s not from the stitches. It’s not in the place I cut and sewed, but in the muscles below. It’s essentially muscle tension. Sometimes women get that after surgery. To protect yourself from the pain afterwards, and that sense of jarring, you can tense up too much. You’ll need to relax the muscles.”

“How…?” I start to ask.

“You can do physical therapy. That’s what I recommend. It can make a big difference.”

I’m imagining instruction in doing Kegel exercise. But I already know that. “What happens in physical therapy?”

“Well, similar to physical therapy for other overly tight muscles, there are trigger points, and the therapist pushes on them.”

“Trigger points… where?”

“Inside the vagina,” she tells me.

I just look at her. I can’t believe this.

“You should go,” she urges me. “It can help a lot. It’s really a quality of life issue.”

“How many visits does it take?” I ask her.

“It varies a lot,” she tells me. “Anywhere from three to nine weeks.” Three to nine weeks. Yuck.

I take the referral from her. I’m just imagining it, going to the physical therapy clinic (I’ve been there before, for my feet). I will lie down and some stranger will put her (better be a her) fingers inside me and press where it hurts. This is way too much like what happened to a very young me, except it wasn’t a stranger.

Shit, I thought I was done with all the intrusive stuff.

I texted a little bit with E about this. After I said though that it was too much like my early childhood experience, she never answered. I am trying so hard not to react to her silence. She’s still jet lagged from her trip to Japan. Perhaps she fell asleep. Maybe she has company over tonight. Of course the “she doesn’t get it” or “she doesn’t care” thoughts try to sneak in. I observe them, non-judgmentally, and let them float away again without following them. My mindfulness practice is helping.

But still, I need someone to say, that totally sucks! I wanted her to say that, and maybe she will later. In the meantime, I guess I am writing here in the hope that some of you can hear me and get it.

I know I will cope somehow. Tonight though is not the time to plan how I will cope. It’s just a time when I need a little comforting, because my tale of pelvic peril isn’t over yet.

 

 

 

25 thoughts on “It’s Not Over

  1. That TOTALLY sucks! Oh my god. You’ve been through this horrendously awful process like a warrior, emerged victorious…and now there’s MORE? Not fair. Not fair at all.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m so sorry to hear that it hurts. 😦 It definitely sucks! And I’m sorry that neither E nor your hubby seem to understand just how distressing it is to you. Sometimes even the best people in our lives will say something that could seem unempathetic. I don’t believe they did it on purpose at all but it does still hurt to hear that from them. I hope that my agreeing with you that it sucks helps some. I know how you feel in terms of just wanting someone to validate your feelings and to agree with you. You put it all down on here so well that it’s easy for me to understand what you’re going through and to empathize. I would also freak out myself if I ever needed to have a stranger press me in my vagina – I mean, any person would, I think. What more people like us, who have experienced sexual trauma, right?

    It must be so hard for you to even bring yourself to think that you could go for that kind of a physical therapy. In your shoes, I’d probably try to delay that as long as I could. Anyway, I hope you know that I’m thinking of you and sending you loving vibes and virtual hugs! I hope you’ll feel better soon! I know it’s been a rough journey for you but you are so freaking strong, my dear friend! You will weather this and emerge stronger than ever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know they are both on my side. I just think I need the first reaction to be: oh no! That’s the pits! That helps validate my own reaction. I don’t need to hear (at the beginning) “you can do it” or “you’ll manage” or “it won’t be so bad.” Maybe later that helps but at the beginning it feels like a message that says “you shouldn’t be so upset; no big deal.” I know neither of them means it like that, but it was a message I got so much as a kid and then from my ex that I am expecting it all the time and reading it into any kind of reassurance, especially when I am still shocked and upset.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes!! I totally get what you mean because I often feel the same too when people tell me I’ll be able to do it or that I’m fine. You’re right. It is very invalidating. I think that’s why I enjoy talking to S so much. It’s because he NEVER says that. He ALWAYS says, “That must be really frustrating huh?” or, “That sucks!” or something empathetic like that. So yeah, I totally get what you mean! And yes, it sucks! And I’m sorry you have to go through it.

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  3. Well, of course if you proceed, you would insist on a woman if that is what you need. I can’t imagine that kind of intimate PT being done in the clinic’s where’s I’ve been for my knee and arm. Wow. I have to wonder about a less invasive way to relax those muscles, a way you would love and enjoy. Perhaps hot whirlpool therapy, or some other enjoyable way. Letting someone in there, inside your most intimate recesses seems to me to be one more way to tighten up more and compound the issue.
    Those remarks from those you care so much for had to sting. Wouldn’t you like to bop them on the head?

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  4. It does suck! Great job with the mindfulness, and I’m sure E will respond later. I’m hoping she will help you with how to go about this, because it is definitely a sucky thing to deal with. I’m wondering if something similar to progressive muscle relaxation could help the muscle to relax, without having to go through this PT.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No response so far from E. 🙂 But now I kind of remember she said she had a workshop this weekend.

      I don’t know if progressive muscle relaxation would work. I’m going to research this online a bit this weekend. Thanks so much for your support.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. It does totally suck!!!! I am so sorry you had to go through this surgery and get through the recovery only to hear you gave to get this very personal ans intrusive therapy! And comments you received are NOT ok and lack any sort of empathy!!!!
    ive actually had the therapy. I requested a woman and actually found a completely different pt place. I went to this place called clear passage massage. These vaginal/pelvic pt was all they did. Emotionally it was challenging at first, but the physical results were huge. I was having pelvic floor spasms and it helped alot.they did massage for women with scar tissue trying to get pregnant but also for people like me.others should not scoff at this kind of pain!! They dont know how uncomfortable it can be. I really feel for you. Im so sorry you are going through this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Bethany. It’s really helpful to know that someone else went through this and found it helpful (if not easy).

      The surgeon did tell me, “sometimes personalities don’t match up; if you don’t feel good with the PT you get, call me back, and I can get you a referral somewhere else.” I don’t know if there are any places locally that just specialize in that, but I’ll look into it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! Helpful, but not easy sums it up! Just remember you have control over who touches you and who you feel cimfortable with. My first apt I did not for whatever reason feel like I wanted that person touching me. I requested someone else and they were ok with it. I wish you well in healing from this!

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  6. And I’ll chime in and agree that it totally sucks. The comments sucked too and not very mindful but probably in their nervous attempt to lighten the conversation. I would have asked how you feel about that. I’d be scared. I have much the same problem as as you did but will never have surgery. My doctor didn’t think I could sit still enough to let it heal. Anyways, I was referred to PT to work on developing my kegel muscles. Basically mine don’t work and the doctor acknowledged how awkward PT for that would be and who knows. If it might help right? Oh my gosh would initially be traumatic or at least triggering but then maybe like exposure therapy. I wonder how many women have followed thru?! I’ve never talked to anyone who had the PT but it would be interesting to hear if it is helpful. I am picturing a bunch of older gma like ladies, kinda like going to water therapy where you just don’t see anyone younger. LoL hopefully that made you smile. Love you

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    • I’m sure I’ll write about how it goes, and who knows? Maybe it won’t be as bad as I fear. And then maybe you’ll want to do it, too.

      I will try it, reluctant though I am, because I am committed to taking care of myself. I can’t believe now how bad I let everything get. The prediabetes, the foot problems (which started back in 2008, I think, but which I never dealt with), the prolapse, the 30 pounds that crept up over time, the worsening eyesight (did just get new glasses), etc. Put that together with job stress and a lack of healing from trauma, and I essentially collapsed last year. The leave I took in the fall helped, but it was only the beginning of all the things I need to do to be healthier and stronger. I’m willing to do them. It’s just that some of them suck. Thanks for understanding that.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Unwanted, yes, very much so! I didn’t even realize this was a possibility, so I felt blindsided by it at the check-up yesterday. But I will incorporate into the plan, I will find a way to cope, and I will get through it. And one day maybe I’ll stop writing here about my vagina.

      Thank you for validating my reaction. Just to have others say, “you are right, this sucks!” makes me feel saner.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t know how to say it other then this is not fair and it sucks and they should’ve told you about this and oh god.

    Like others have said, maybe there is a way you can do the PT yourself or your husband can help. Or maybe there is some acupuncture or yoga or something to try that less invasive? Maybe not, but this is just not ok. I mean it will be okay, and I have every confidence in your ability to heal (physically and everything else) its just so….. well you know. I am sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, this is a lovely message. It validates my “this sucks” feeling but also expresses confidence I can cope. That’s the perfect balance. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and support!

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  8. Pingback: And Back To The (Pelvic) Floor | la quemada

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