First off…I know; it’s been F.O.R.E.V.E.R.
Sports, kids, work, and just life in general has been so crazy busy that there’s rarely a night that I don’t pass out on the couch before 8 p.m. I swear I run through life stressed out more than the average person. It’s crazy ridiculous.
Today however, I decided to make time to write. I felt that this story needed to be told. For one- it’s absolutely mortifying, two- it’s hilarious, and three- if there’s another woman who has been suffering the same pain that I have endured for twelve years, this might help them get out there and fight for her health as well.
So a little backstory might help here:
For twelve years I have been dealing with chronic pelvic pain. There’s never a moment in the day that I don’t hurt. It’s so unbearable some days that I can hardly walk. My quality of life isn’t the best. Being in constant pain makes you exhausted (all the time!) and keeps you from doing the things you love for fear of suffering the painful consequences afterwards. I have been to just about every doctor in every different specialty you could think of to try and find out what the cause of this pain was. No one knew what was causing it, how it started, or even how to diagnose it. Do you know what it’s like to feel like a medical mystery? It sucks! Most of the time, I got told that I was either a junkie looking for pain pills (which I never did) or it was all in my head and I needed to see a psychiatrist. So, thinking the doctors might be right (about the crazy part), I did. There was nothing wrong with me other than an anxiety disorder (G.A.D) and a touch of O.C.D. All these years, all this pain. All I wanted was a diagnosis. Just knowing what it was, even if there was no cure for it, was better than being in the dark. Finally, after battling with doctors, I took it upon myself to seek out someone who could help. I spent months looking for someone who focuses on this sort of thing. Finally, I came across a doctor at Loyola University who specializes in pelvic pain and went through the proper HMO channels to get to her. Here is where the story starts.
It was an hour long appointment where I went through my medical history, family history, the different doctors I had seen, and my life in general. Then comes the internal pelvic exam. These are always fun for me…not. The doctor then proceeds to push on different parts of my vaginal canal and pelvic region reminding me to tell her when it hurts. When she pushed on one part in particular, I damn near shot off of the table and couldn’t help but start crying. OUCH! She took her gloves off with a huge smile on her face, staring at me the entire time…just grinning like the Cheshire Cat.
**Smiling? You just made me feel like I was going to die and you’re smiling?!?! All I could think was, what kind of sadistic situation had I put myself in? Oh God, I’ve handed my health care over to Dr. Kavorkian’s niece. This is how it ends.**
“Chronic pelvic myofascial pain.” was all she said.
I just glared at her. **still a little pist about her smirk** “What?” I asked her.
“Chronic pelvic myofascial pain. It’s what this condition is called.” she replied.
Dumbfounded. Flabbergasted. There were no words to describe what I was feeling. For so many years, I had heard doctors promise that they would have answers, promise to help. When they couldn’t help, I was let down every time and sent to someone else who let me down as well. I went into this appointment with the same expectation- to be let down. And here it was, what I had been searching for, begging for, for twelve long years. She proceeded to explain to me that my vaginal and pelvic muscles were in a constant state of contraction. With the muscles never being able to relax and constantly under an unimaginable amount of stress, it was like they were working out 24/7 365. That explained why I was constantly in pain and felt exhausted all the time.
**Now, mind you, I had just sat there for an hour trying to explain to this doctor that I wasn’t crazy; so my actions afterwards probably contradicted everything I had been trying to convey.**
I started crying…then I stopped and started laughing hysterically. She looked at me like I had lost my ever-loving mind and asked if I was okay.
“Yes, I’m fine. You don’t understand though; for twelve years I have fought with doctors about this. I have been told I was crazy and it was all in my head, that I was nothing but a junkie looking for pain pills. I’d had surgery after surgery, procedure after procedure, promise after promise and no one believed me. So to finally get even a diagnosis is huge to me. It validates everything I’ve been trying to tell people for years. But to find out that that diagnosis is basically, when you break it down and take away the medical jargon, a stressed out vagina… it’s…absurd! It’s crazy! Like, how do I even explain this to people?!? How do I look the people that know about this and are worried about me in the eye and explain this? Stressed. Out. Vagina…are you serious?!? Like, is this seriously something that exists or are you bullshitting me…?!?”
Turns out, there’s a way to fix it! I can actually go through life without pain. It would take some time, but there was a way to get my energy back and finally feel normal again; if I could even remember what normal felt like. I didn’t care what the fix was, I was going to do it. Well, that’s what I was prepared to say. When I found out what the treatments consisted of, I was seriously contemplating whether or not the pain was really that bad. How important was quality of life anyway? I mean…I made it this far for this long already, right? I left the doctors office a tad bit befuddled. On one hand, I was elated; I finally had answers. On the other hand, it was the tip of the iceberg. I was gearing myself up mentally for a series of mortifying events to come.
First treatment? Suppository vaginal Valium. Yep; that’s a thing, people. I shit you not. And I have it. My crotch is so friggin stressed out that it needs its own form of Valium. When I heard that, all I could think of was someone so doped up on Valium they were in a catatonic state…drooling. Then, juvenile as it may be, I pictured my poor vagina walking around in a drug induced stupor too and got a little nervous.
I always get my prescriptions filled at Walgreens. Always have, always will. I’m actually on a first name basis with the staff; that’s how long I’ve been going there. But for this prescription…nope. Not doing it. So I went to a pharmacy all the way across town where no one knew my face or name…or so I thought. I walked in and sulked all the way to the drop off counter only to be greeted by a mother of one of the boys in my daughter’s martial arts class. FML. She wasn’t the pharmacist, but worked there next to the pharmacy. Instantly, I tried to look as hurried and busy as I could so that she wouldn’t feel the need to come over and say hi. I made it to the counter with nothing more than a smile from her; phew! Turning my head and placing my hand over my face, I discreetly slipped the prescription across the counter to the pharmacy tech. I never looked up to see if she received it or not. I just assumed that if she had any questions, she’d get my attention. “Um…what?” she says with a puzzled tone. Here we go. I looked up at her. You could tell she was trying to be professional, but was finding this piece of paper to be a source of confusion. She had her hand over her mouth trying to hold back a smirk.
“So…yeah. I’ve never seen an order for this before. I um… I don’t even think we have this…um…specific thing here. We’ll have to send it to our other pharmacy in another town. Let me call and see if they can fill it.”
Grrreat. Even more people have to know about this. Good thing I never go to that town. Sensing a lull in conversation, martial arts mom comes to talk to me. I’m trying to keep it casual and distract her from the conversation the pharmacy tech behind me is having…to no avail. She must have gotten uncomfortable listening to it-since there were long pauses in our conversation (hearing words like vaganal, and suppository can be off putting, I’m sure) and excused herself. I started laughing and said…”life…huh?” I was at a loss for words. WTF else could I say? She probably thought I had some nasty new form of STD’s and was trying like hell not to catch them. Finally the tech comes back and informs me that they can fill it in the other town, takes my information and says I’m sorry as well as wish me good luck on the way out. I’m sorry? Good luck? Why would she say those things? What does she think I need this prescription for? Is she feeling empathy for my traumatized vagina? That could explain the “sorry”, but the “good luck”? Whatever. I just wanted to get out of there.
Flash forward two days. I get a call that my recently embarrassing drop off is ready to be picked up. Unenthusiasticly, I go to retrieve it. As I walk in, I search for martial arts mom…not there. SCORE! I head to the pick up counter only to be greeted by another familiar face. It’s one of the old pharmacy technicians from Walgreens whom I hadn’t seen for a while. UGH, I can’t catch a break. Of course with my luck, she remembers me and my name. We catch up a little and she goes to get my prescription. She can’t find it. She’s asking everyone if they’ve seen a prescription for (insert my name here). It’s finally found in the fridge. Fridge? She brings it to the counter and laughs. “Well! This is…new. Any questions about how to use it?” she laughs. “Nope.” I say. Even if the directions were in Chinese, I sure in the hell wasn’t going to ask questions. I put an IKEA desk together without instructions by myself and I could figure this one out on my own too.
I get home and look at the package. MUST BE REFRIGERATED. F**k. Now, not only do I have this effed up prescription, but I have to keep it in my refrigerator. The same refrigerator that our company gets its drinks from. The very same refrigerator that said company rummages around in for snacks and food (our company is very comfortable in our home). How in the hell am I going to hide this? Now, I’m desperately trying to come up with reasons to give my husband as to why we need a $160 mini fridge in our room…because I don’t think hiding a suppository vagina Valium will be sufficient enough. In the end I decided…f**k it. It is what it is and threw it in the fridge for the world to see. My kids saw it, but that story is for another day.
Second form of treatment? Pelvic floor physical therapy. Sounds harmless, right? Wrong. I think this is the worst part of all. Since my muscles don’t know how to relax, they need to be taught how to. How do you teach muscles to relax, you might wonder? You stroke them. Not as sexy as it sounds given the setting and situation. I have to go into an office and let some chick put her fingers inside me and rub my muscles, for at least twelve visits, until they learn to relax on their own. My first question for the doctor when I heard this? “Um…can’t I just have my husband do that?!?” No. The answer is no, I cannot. So, what this boils down to is: I have to pay $30 every visit to get finger-banged by some stranger and call it therapy. Not to sound judgmental or anything, but it almost has a prostitutional feel to it. I have those appointments scheduled, but have yet to endure that mortifying task as off yet.
My husband’s reaction to all of this:
“So…you basically have a prescription to cheat on me? Do I get one?”
“If the doctor is hot, can you take a picture so I have something for later?”
WISH ME LUCK!