When you’re in the throes of pelvic pain, it’s hard to believe that you’ll ever get better. You will. But we don’t just want you to take our word for it. We want you to hear from patients themselves who have healed. That’s why we’re kicking off a regular feature of patient “Success Stories” on today’s blog. We’re going to start the series with Jessica’s story. Take it away Jessica!
Since as far back as I could remember, I had on-and-off vestibule pain. In addition, all my life I’ve had bouts of constipation and hypermobile joints, meaning I am overly flexible (not a good thing). These are all factors that likely helped pave the way for my pelvic pain. One day when I was in my mid-twenties, I got a urinary tract infection that kicked off a downward spiral of constant vestibule and vaginal pain. That’s when my search for answers began.
Along the way, a urologist prescribed endless rounds of antibiotics. I underwent a cystoscopy, which is basically a bladder scope (ouch!), received an interstitial cystitis (IC) diagnosis, and got several more opinions from a variety of different doctors—a few of which concluded that my pain was caused by “stress.” I read articles that convinced me that my symptoms were caused by “too much acid in my body” or “chronic yeast.” These revelations resulted in some very extreme diets, including a “yeast cleanse.”
When all else failed, I spent hundreds of dollars on supplements, not because I necessarily thought they would help, but because I needed something proactive to do. Finally, months into my pain, I read about pelvic pain PT online, made an appointment to see PHRC’s Liz Rummer, and started down the road to recovery.
I won’t lie and tell you that that road was an easy one. On the contrary, the ups and downs were crazy making. Along the way, I developed intense pain and fatigue. My joints even stopped working. I did nothing but lay around with my cat, go to doctor and PT appointments, and try my best to dress and feed myself. I had to take medical leave from school and work. I went on opiate painkillers, among other medications, including an antidepressant. I learned that chronic pain is a breeding ground for depression.
It took about seven months of weekly PT for me to begin to feel better, and reach a turning point in my recovery. During my sessions with Liz, she worked internally on my tight pelvic floor, which she said was riddled with trigger points. In addition, she worked externally on my abdomen, thighs and hips, where she found connective tissue restrictions. Besides my regular PT sessions, ice and heat helped, sitting on a cushion and not sitting too much helped, and using a foam roller to loosen tight muscles in my back and legs also helped.
It took about a year and a half of weekly PT for me to fully heal. Today, about five years later, I do not have vestibule or vaginal pain. I have pain-free sex and normal orgasms. I can do any activity I want to and not experience pain. I wear underwear and jeans. (I wore wrap skirts with no underwear for more than a year).
And thanks to the education I received in PT, I am also super-aware of when and where I clench. I’ve learned that when I clench my abs, which I tend to do when I am anxious or stressed, I feel pain in my pelvic floor. Therefore, deep breathing and relaxation exercises are a must for me during any stressful situation. I don’t do yoga or sit-ups because they tense up my pelvic floor and abdomen. I bought an expensive office chair that I will sit in for the rest of my working life. I no longer have the chronic fatigue (I was sleeping over16 hours at my worst).
These days, I just think of myself as similar to someone with a bad back who shouldn’t life heavy things or overdue it. Lastly, I no longer wake up in the morning and think about pain. Instead, I think about what I’m going to eat that day (I love to eat!), who I’m going to see, and what I’m going to do.
I could not have gotten through this without my PT, who was so incredibly encouraging and of course got me better and saved my life, or without the folks I met on the online support group Happy Pelvis, who convinced me that I would see the light of day. If you’re in the midst of this condition, know that there is a way out, and as much as possible, have compassion for yourself. You’re going through something hard, but you will get better.
Thank you so much Jessica for sharing your story with us! We believe it will go a long way toward inspiring hope for those who are struggling on their own healing journey.
Do you have a success story that you could share with us? If so, we would love to hear it! Please share it in the comment section below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.