Thursday, January 15, 2015

The beginning of Recovery


Trigger warnings: Sexual abuse, Prolapse, Vaginal Therapy. I share my story in hopes that it will help someone else sufering in silence. Because life is real. This has nothing to do with MotherMoonPads aside from the fact that I AM MotherMoonPads. 

"You have a moderate bladder prolapse and the start of a rectal prolapse. Lose some weight, and see me again in June"

Those were the words that I heard from my gynecologist last week, when I saw him for my prolapse. For about 3 hours, I accepted them as that was what I was going to do. Then I posted online, both in a private mamas group as wel as publicly on my business Facebook page (hey if we can talk about menstruation, we can talk about prolapse!). Very quickly I found out that I had more options! 

Pelvic floor physical therapy.

Wait, what? Physical therapy for my pelvic floor. Like physical therapy for my vagina? To say I was skeptical and nervous is an absolute understatement. I couldn't imagine what could be done. I've been through physical therapy before, and it has always involved exercises and electrical stimulation machines. A few of my friends insisted that I had to try it tough, so I made an appointment.

I cannot tell you how many reasons I found not to go to that appointment. How many times I picked up the phone to cancel it. Then there were issues with my health insurance (I haven't received the darned card yet!!), and my gynecologist took FOREVER to send over the referral. Somehow, this morning I found the courage to go.

My physical therapist is this young, petite, gorgeous woman. The type of women that would be a little intimidating to me. The way she spoke though, was so reassuring. She was tender and honest, reassuring me that we would only do what I was comfortable with and that we could stop at any time. She explained to me that she was one of only 33 physical therapists in the entire United States to have her credentials in pelvic floor physical therapy, which made me really think how incredibly lucky that I am that we somehow ended up in the middle of nowhere Oregon a few years ago. 

She took a very thorough life history that covered my pregnancies, births, trauma from sexual abuse, and more. She seemed to be able to predict what I was going to say next, which was as creepy as it was fascinating! It made me feel not quite so alone though. So many women go through this! I wonder how many suffer in silence, afraid to ask for help or afraid to even talk about what is happening with their bodies. 

She explained that when a woman experiences a trauma, it can be held in her muscles for many years to come, long after that woman thinks she has recovered from the trauma. For me, that was the sexual assault that resulted in the conception of my daughter, when I was 13. That's something I thought I was LONG past at this point in my life, almost 19 years later. I'm realizing that the trauma was never fully attended to. I never received counseling, and it was forced to be so deeply repressed as my mother had no interest in dealing with it, accepting that it happened, or helping me heal. The trauma was compounded by the complicated birth of my daughter which resulted in a fourth degree extension, and physical trauma that will last my entire life. 

I like to believe that I am a strong woman. I KNOW I am a very strong woman. I wonder where this strength comes from though, and I think it is from being able to repress my pain so that I can just move on. When I started having my pelvic pain issues last May, the doctors kept telling me that they could not find the cause of my pain. The list of diagnosis I received is incredible (stomach flu, diverticulitis, ovarian cyst, psoas dysfunction, piriformis syndrome, myofascial pain syndrome, possible lupus, an unnamed auto immune disease, and a few "I don't think anything is wrong with you, it's possible it's all in your head". I started to wonder what this pain could be telling me. Could illness have a purpose in our life? What if we stopped and actually listened to our bodies when we are sick? What would we find out?

I found out that I have a long list of traumas to deal with. The physical therapist gently suggested I add some counseling to the mix. What I am doing now with working hard to eat properly, lose the excess weight I am carrying, and obtain proper medical care for my body (something I have gone years without!) is fantastic, but if I am ever going to truly feel whole and at peace, it is time. 

Anyways, back to the physical therapy. ;) After we got all of that out of the way, she asked if I was ready to begin the actual physical therapy. Most of me wanted to scream no, but I took a big deep breath and said yes. So we began. She started by performing an exam to check the severity of my prolapse. She told me she could see it, it was definitly there but did not put it into words for the severity. I found that kind of interesting how she chose not to qualify it in such a way. After that, she told did an abdominal exam to check for my external trigger points. She repeated that was an internal exam. She could point to each muscle knot that I had deep inside, and worked to release them by gently holding pressure on them until the muscle relaxed. I can't lie, it hurt before it felt better. She did not prescribe any exercises and specifically told me to not perform any kegels. She explained that my muscles had to relax and heal first before we could work on making them stronger. I was thankful for that part. When I went through 8 weeks of physical therapy over the summer, that physical therapist through me directly into strengthening my abdominal core and it never felt right at all. I stopped because I felt as if I was doing more damage than good. 

While she was working on helping my muscles relax, she asked me about urinary tract infections. I went over my history of them, and how I've been on more antibiotics than I could possibly remember, sometimes 3 times a month for very recurrent UTIs. After we talked about them, she pressed on a trigger point that instantly brought me to tears. It created that very sharp, intense, sudden onset burning that I have always thought of as a bladder infection. She guessed that after I had a few true bladder infections, my doctor wasn't even testing me anymore and was just calling me in prescriptions (TRUE!). She also guessed that the majority of the UTIs that I had were not actual UTIs. They were muscle spasms that were affecting my urethra, making me think that I had a UTI. I found this fascinating, as when I was younger I had a diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis, which (as far as I understood it) meant that the UTI wasn't showing up when they did the urine test, but the patient was still reporting symptoms of it. SO, if you have recurring urinary tract/bladder infections, I HIGHLY recommend you seek out a pelvic floor physical therapist! Actually, if you have lower abdominal pain, minimal answers from other doctors, I highly recommend you seek out pelvic floor physical therapy.

The actual therapy itself seemed rather quick. Maybe 10 minutes total. Before I knew it, it was over. I will go back twice a week for the next month, and things will be reevaluated after that. Ultimately, it's a good first step in healing. I am ready, and I am worthy. 

)O( Denelle www.MotherMoonPads.com 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Pelvic Organ Prolapse, and all things taboo.

"Taboos are the stuff of muck and magic. They are the stuff of exclusion, and have no place in the world of science and enlightenment. The only way to break taboos is to ... um ... break them. Speak out, as you have, and to keep speaking out. The taboo will still exist, but if people speak about it, it has lost its power over us. Our reproductive and sexual organs are sacred parts of us. We do not have to shout about them from the rooftops, but we do need to share appropriately so that other women do not have to suffer unecessarily. This is a whole new toolbox that every woman has within her! If you don't know you have the tools, then how can you heal your body?"
This quote is by Louise at the Whole Woman Village and it touched me to my core. https://wholewoman.com/blog/?p=1047

This past weekend, while I was at the coast, my bladder prolapsed. To be honest, I'm sure it has been happening for some time, but I was afraid to research or really explore what it could have possibly been.

I very vaguely remembered reading about prolapse a few years ago, on a message board. I really it scaring the hell out of me, and praying it would never happen. Here I am though, terrified at what my body is doing. This past 9 months have been very strange. I've never been so unhealthy in all my life. I've experienced so much unexplained pain (diagnosed as myofascial pain syndrome in the end) with so little answers. I keep wondering what my body is trying to tell me.

I believe that everything in life happens for a reason. I'm sure some day I will understand the reasoning behind this. Until then, I am going to start to talk (or type) my way through it. For the longest time, I've felt as if I had this public persona to display. That as an entrepreneur, I could not talk about anything taboo, nothing controversial. I tried for a while to blog as a coping mechanism for my husband's anxiety, and it was met with much love and also a little negativity. Instead of ignoring the negativity, I deleted everything and stopped blogging.

I'm tired of taboos. I no longer feel the need to censor things. I've committed to being an open, honest, authentic person and I miss blogging about life.

Since my last blog post, I've been put through a battery of tests. I've had an MRI (which found a herniated disc, but I'm not a surgical candidate and they didn't recommend PT as it hasn't helped in the past), a colonoscopy (which 2 benign polyps were removed and nothing else was found), and a plethora of blood tests that no one can figure put 2 and 2 together with.

Ultimately I've been diagnosed with Myofascial Pain Syndrome, a non-specific auto immune disease, and today I add a bladder prolapse with a very mild rectal prolapse to the list.

Wait, did I just admit to you that my bladder is falling out of my vagina? Yes. Yes I did!

50% of women who have children will have a pelvic organ prolapse. FIFTY PERCENT! (Statistic taken from http://www.yaleobgyn.org/urogyn/151_23938_UI-POP_patient_talk.pdf ) If that statistic doesn't catch your eye, it should. WHY aren't we talking about this? Our bodies are important! The way they function is important! WE DO NOT HAVE TO SUFFER IN SILENCE!!

My gynecologist is this sweet old man in his mid 50's. He wears a bow tie and suspenders every day. I freaking love him to pieces. He is also very knowledgeable, informative, open, and honest. I asked him what my treatment plan was. First he apologized and said he wished he had better news for me. Then he told me that I have 3 options:

1. I have to lose weight. This is not negotiable. I need to commit to losing weight as if my quality of life depends on it, because it does. We had a long talk about diets, exercise, how many calories I should be eating and the types of foods I should be eating. I was slightly amused to hear him say I should go on the Paleo diet, but to make sure not to go overboard with it. He also told me to make sure I am eating enough calories each day, as this is something I really struggle with. He wants to see me lose at least 50 pounds, and told me that weight loss should be a main priority in life.

2. I can have a pessary fit if the prolapse (described as "moderate" at this time). I would have to see another specialist to have this done, as it isn't something he offers.

3. I can have a hysterectomy and have things put back in place surgically. He strongly cautioned me against choosing this option at this time, as I am only 32 years old. He said that if I choose to have surgery, I should know that the failure rate is relatively high, and that surgery will not be my last. I will need further surgeries to keep everything in place further down the road.

So there it is, all in black and white. I've become one of the 50% of women who have had children to experience a pelvic organ prolapse.  

I am choosing option 1. I am going to lose weight like my life depends on it, but I am going to do it with long term weight loss and health in mind. I am fairly limited on what I can do for exercise at this time (You know, the whole bladder thing!), so it's a good thing that losing weight is primarily diet based!

I hope you'll cheer me on (or ignore my posts if you're not interested, haha!) in this journey. If you are one of the 50%, please feel free to send me a message too. It would be nice to feel like I'm not all alone in this.

)O( Denelle www.MotherMoonPads.com










Saturday, July 12, 2014

Finally, a diagnosis.

On Tuesday,  my husband took a day off of work. I was ordered to take the pain medication given to me in the ER, and while it helped tremendously, I also do not feel like a functional person on them.

I met with a chiropractor that was recommended to me by my acupuncturist. He did his exam, and concluded that my issue was muscular.  It may or may not be related to a back injury I have from a car accident I was in when I was 13.

He made some adjustments and talked to me about the iliopsoas muscle as well as piriformis syndrome.

After I was done at the chiropractor,  my husband took me to see my specialist.  He prescribed more pain medication, some muscle relaxants,  and sent me to physical therapy. Since a hernia was ruled out with the tests done in the ER, he felt comfortable giving me my first official diagnosis, Piriformis syndrome.

I started physical therapy on Wednesday.  I was terrified. I've never had physical therapy before,  and it makes everything seem so real that my body is not what it used to be. The physical therapist was very friendly. He agreed with the chiropractor and the specialist that it is piriformis syndrome combined with having a strained and weakened iliopsoas muscle.

I was told to expect a recovery time of 6 to 8 weeks,  but also that I would need to limit my sitting time after that.

As someone who has been a fairly active person, this is the strangest thing ever to me. My children miss being able to go for our daily walks and bike rides. I miss being able to get out of the house for more than just therapy. I seriously miss sitting in my studio and sewing.

I have no idea how I will make it through the next 6 to 8 weeks.

~Denelle Www.mothermoonpads.com


My body doesn't feel like my body.

My life changed May 18, 2014. I started having abdominal/lower groin pain. After a struggle to get a diagnosis, it was determined the pain was a complex ovarian cyst. I went to acupuncture weekly, and also tried some essential oils to treat the cyst.

After a month of pain, my doctor sent me to a specialist to discuss removing it. The specialist performed another ultrasound and determined the complex cyst on my left was gone.  I have cysts on my right ovary now, but I was told those are a normal part of the reproductive cycle and not to worry about them.

While I was happy that my cyst was gone, the pain remained. My specialist was debating between a hernia and Piriformis syndrome.  I was given some pain cream, told to apply it for 10 days, and if it helped it was piriformis syndrome.  If it didnt, it was the hernia.

The pain cream didn't make a tremendous difference,  but I did see an improvement in my pain.

Sunday, something changed. I took a nap, and when I woke up I had some extreme abdominal/lower back pain. It was like I had this band of pain around my stomach. It was excruciating. The pain was so bad, I was unable to walk. Trying to get up to use the bathroom was nearly impossible.

My husband encouraged me to go to the emergency room, but I hesitated. I spent 28 hours stuck on the couch, unable to even roll over. Monday afternoon,  our new puppy had a vet appointment to check her health,  as she is a rescue pup from the animal shelter. I thought it was important that she go, and so I decided it was time to get up.

I tried, and tried, but I could not physically get up. It took me 30 minutes to pull myself into a standing position. When I did finally get up, my right leg was unresponsive. It was at this point that my daughter wanted to call an ambulance. Looking back, I should have let her. Worried about finances though, I insisted on going by car. My daughter called a neighbor, who was kind enough to drive me and stay with me until my husband was on his way.

It was the worst emergency room experience I have ever had. They put me in a room very quickly, and then I was simply left alone. An hour went by without a your checking on me. Finally the registrar came in to get my insurance information.  She walked into an empty room with a hysterical woman in it. Shortly after that, my husband arrived and so did the nurse. She asked me what was wrong, and then asked for a urine sample. Determined to avoid a catheter (as I have bladder issues and did not want the infection I always get after having a catheter), my husband basically dragged me to the bathroom for the sample.

It was then that the nurse realized something really was wrong. The amount of effort and pain in walking to the bathroom (which was the next room over!!) Was a clear indication that not all was right. She immediately ordered some tests and some pain medication.

The pain medication was to be administered via IV. It took them 5 tries, and 4 different phlebotomists to get an IV in. They even brought in this really nifty light that is supposed to show where the veins are. Yeah, that didn't help and I'm sure they charged me a few hundred dollars for using it.

Finally they called in an experienced nurse and she had the IV in before I even knew it. She is a saint. Anyways, they were able to get their blood, they started the pain meds and saline through the IV, and I drank my inside color changing "banana flavored smoothie" for the CT scan.

The CT scan was over before I knew it. They found nothing wrong with me.

The most frustrating thing in the world is to be in so much pain that you can't walk, can't roll over, and basically can't move the lower part of your body and then be told that there is nothing wrong with you, here are 6 Percocet and a wheel chair, please leave the ER and go see someone else tomorrow.

And so begins my saga.


~Denelle
Www.mothermoonpads.com





Friday, May 23, 2014

The importance of being your own advocate, or Hello Complex Ovarian Cyst.

6 days, 4 appointments, 3 doctors, 2 UAs, 2 sets of blood work,  2 pelvic exams, 1 ultrasound. That is what it took to receive a diagnosis this week, after 6 days of intense lower abdominal pain.

My pain started late Sunday night. It was really deep in my lower abdomen/groin. I tried, best as I could, to ignore it. It would come and go as it pleased. Certain things (actions or positions) would make it much worse, to the point where it had me doubled over in tears.

Tuesday, I decided I needed to be seen. I haven't been seen by a conventional doctor in a few years, as we have not been fortunate enough to carry health insurance (the joys of being a small business owner!). The visit had me full of anxiety as it was. I went to an urgent care clinic, and was seen by a nurse practitioner who made me feel very uncomfortable. After performing a complete blood workup and a urinalysis, the only thing he could find wrong was a high level of platelets. He wrote off my symptoms as the stomach flu, telling me to take more Tylenol for the pain, and Pepto for the nausea. He told me to start a liquid diet for 2-3 days for my stomach flu. I left there feeling VERY unhappy.

The pain did not subside, and this was unlike any stomach flu I have ever experienced. Thursday, I made an appointment with a doctor who would be my primary care physician from now on. She was friendly, agreed that it was not the stomach flu. She performed a pelvic exam, and concluded that it was likely diverticulitis. She was hesitant to perform a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis, and instead sent me home telling me to come back Saturday if the pain was not gone by then. She offered me pain medication, to manage the pain. I promptly came home and googled diverticulitis (don't do that!!), and spent the evening freaking out more about it.

The pain last night was unbearable. I was up for most of the night wishing it to go away (it didn't work, haha). 7 AM, I called for the first appointment I could get with my doctor. Of course she was not working today, so I was set up with the first physician who had an appointment available.

9 AM, I completely broke down when the doctor walked in the room. I was at the height of my frustration with trying to figure out the cause of my pain, and I begged him to find an answer, not just push pain pills at me.

He. Was. Fantastic. He was exactly who I needed to see today. He repeated the blood tests, the urinalysis, and the pelvic exam and concluded that it was my left ovary that was the concern, not my colon. High on the list of possibilities was an ectopic pregnancy. He tried to get me in for an ultrasound ASAP, and was apologetic that they couldn't get me in until 2 PM. It was around 11 AM when he sent me home, with the instructions to eat some food (remember, I had been on a liquid diet for 3 days at this point!), and get some rest.

So I picked up my little one from preschool, my teenagers from school (half day), and got sushi and rested until my appointment time. The ultrasound was fairly uneventful, aside from maybe filling my bladder a bit too full. ;) After the ultrasound, the doctor insisted that it be read immediately, while I wait. 30 minutes later, we had my results in hand.

He started out by assuring me that all of my labs were good, my white blood count was not raising, there was no indication of infection. My uterus was normal, my right ovary was normal. My poor left ovary... not so normal. It has a complex ovarian cyst on it.

I am so relieved to have a diagnosis. It took a lot of pushing, and insisting that there was more wrong with me than just a simple stomach flu. It is important to be your own advocate! If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. It doesn't matter if you don't hold a medical degree, and the person who is insisting that something is wrong does. You know your body more than anyone else.

In the end, the doctor was apologetic that there is not much that can be done for it at this point, besides to monitor it. I will have another ultrasound in 4 weeks, and if it has grown I will be referred out to have it laproscopically removed, since it is causing me issues. I accepted the pain medication this time, no sense in torturing myself anymore.

I have to admit that it scares me a bit. I may have Googled a bit too much since I've gotten home. Leave it to me to have a more "rare" cyst, as well. So I'm curious, since I have no experience with ovarian cysts, let alone a complex ovarian cyst. Have you had one? How did you treat it? Did it go away on its own?


~Denelle is a Mompreneuer who lives in Oregon with her husband, 3 children, and 1 crazy fluffball of a dog. You may find her store at www.MotherMoonPads.com






Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tell people your goals, and make them your cheerleaders.


(Photo courtesy of Dave Ramsey

My good friend Becky, Mompreneur behind Bumstoppers Cloth Diapers, tagged me in this photo this morning. She is my cheerleader, and I am honored to be hers. Most of my stockings are courtesy of Becky's encouragement (let's all thank Becky for this! ♥) throughout the day.

Today was just "one of those days". I'm still pretty love drunk off of purchasing our very first little piece of land, but the children didn't seem to share that giddyness. Days like this usually throw me into fits of organizing (don't ask, it just happens that way!) and tonight I tackled organizing my sewing room. Most of the time I prefer to work in organized chaos, but considering it IS part of our living room, that doesn't always work for the rest of the family. My little ones joined me in this organization, happily sorting fabrics by whether they were florals, shapes, or animal prints (and then again by whether they were cotton or woven!). Child labor or good learning, considering they are 4 and 6? We'll go with the latter of the two ;)

As I organized, I realized just how many cut out, but not sewn up pads that I have. There are a lot. More than I'd like to count, but I'm estimating around 150 pad tops are in this stack.

It is said that when you tell people your goals, you are more likely to follow through with them. So here I am, publicly shaming myself of my little stack of pads that are screaming to be sewn up. It is my goal to sew up every single one of these pad tops and have them listed in my store by the end of May. 24 days, and there will be no more guilt over unused inventory sadly languishing, because there will be no unused inventory!

I think I can, I think I can!


~Denelle is a Mompreneuer who lives in Oregon with her husband, 3 children, and 1 crazy fluffball of a dog. You may find her store at www.MotherMoonPads.com

Thursday, December 12, 2013