dealing with pain and dysfunction


Oh, whatev.

I have no idea why or how this came up, but my four roommates are having a very loud conversation about the use of numbing agents during sex.  Cue a whole lot of really stupid, ignorant shit!  I wish that the living room weren’t between my bed and the door, I’ve gotta get out of here.  At least it isn’t my friends spewing ridiculous nonsense this time, I guess I can take comfort in the fact that these people know absolutely nothing of my sex life (or lack thereof).  Actually, no.  I think that it might piss me off even more that I’m not okay with throwing open my bedroom door and exclaiming:

There are perfectly legitimate uses for numbing agents during sexual activity!!  Here, let me explain to you why it could possibly be useful and not “fucking weird/gross/tingly.”

Goddamnit.  I already feel fucking weird and gross (thankfully, not tingly in any negative sense…).  I don’t really appreciate the people in my house stating it, even if they don’t realize what they’re saying and why it could possibly make the weird new subletter girl uncomfortable and sad.


Is there a Bat Signal for hippies?

Because I could use some homeopathic help, yo.  This yeast monster appears to be here to stay.  It’s been a couple weeks and it’s lived through a prescription Diflucan and a round of Monistat.  I don’t usually have to deal with this sort of thing, so for me, this seems like a pretty epic infection.  And I can’t blame it on the baby washcloths anymore, though I’m sure that didn’t help any.  I’m on a daily antibiotic for my bad skin, and sorry, but my vanity isn’t going anywhere and neither are the antibiotics.  Hence the killer yeast.  This sucks for many obvious reasons.  The worst: I’m back on campus and walking everywhere, and it’s pretty damn excruciating.

But also, I can’t resume dilator therapy until this is cleared up, because I’m not getting these expensive dilators all yeasty and reinfecting myself every week.  Eww.  So every day that I’m still dealing with this is a therapy day lost.  I also can’t start using the new topical cream until the yeast is gone.  Really, I’m getting nowhere as far as vulvodynia treatment until this sucker is dead.

So in the interest of adding hippie knowledge to the internet, here’s a list of good, old-fashioned home remedies for the yeastie beasties!  Unfortunately I don’t drive, so I can’t get myself to the co-op until this weekend, but rest assured I’ll be trying all this shit asap.  And since I just thrive on TMI, expect updates!

Gentian violet – aka”‘your granny’s cure.”  If you can even find this stuff, soak a tampon with about two tablespoons of GV, insert.  Paint the vulva with a GV-soaked cotton ball.  Remove the tampon after 2-6 hours.  BONUS:  This stuff stains everything bright bright purple!  Well, I think it’s pretty… but remember not to wear cute underwear.

Yogurt.  Use unsweetened, unflavored yogurt to raise the vagina’s pH.  There are a few ways of doing this, and they’re all pretty messy.  First, you can just sorta smear some yogurt around and hope for the best.  Second, if you don’t mind the cold, fill the fingertips of a rubber glove with yogurt and freeze.  Insert like a tampon–it’s a vag popsicle!  I’ve heard it works pretty well.  I probably won’t go this route this weekend, being that I’m in Ithaca and I’m cold enough without having something literally frozen inside of me.  Third, if you have a menstrual cup, you can fill/cover it with yogurt and insert.

Garlic.  Pierce a clove of garlic with a thread or wrap in cheesecloth and tie.  Insert the garlic pessary overnight, and remove in the morning.  Don’t be alarmed if it’s changed color–that’s totally normal.  Downside:  garlic breath, srsly.

Apple Cider Vinegar Douche.  Mix two tablespoons vinegar to a pint of warm water and douche to raise the pH of the vagina.  Do not use longer than 10 days, and do not use on a regular basis–this is a short term fix only.

Boric Acid.  This can be bought in powder form at most drugstores.  While you’re there, get empty capsules (ask the pharmacist), and make your own boric acid caps at home.  Insert overnight for one week.  Boric acid can also be used as a douche, one teaspoon boric acid to one cup warm water.  Careful not to use this if you have a lot of irritation or any broken skin, as it may exacerbate the problem.

Potassium Sorbate.  Find a 3% solution and soak a tampon with two tablespoons potassium sorbate.  Insert overnight and remove in the morning.

Acidophilus.  Can be purchased in capsule form at any drugstore.  Insert overnight and remove in the morning.

As for preventative remedies, AZO Yeast works very well (and in a pinch can fight off an infection if you catch it early enough and are willing to swallow like six of these horse pills a day), as does regularly drinking strong cranberry juice.

So I guess that’s all for my PSA, happy yeast fighting!  If nothing else, the fact-checking was a good reminder for me as to how to properly use all of these methods I’ve collected over the years.  I’m pretty stoked to be done with this infection soon… I really need to get back on track with physical therapy.  I’d also like to set up an appointment with Christine Feely, the pelvic floor physical therapist I was seeing last year, but obviously I can’t go in like this.  Hmph.


The Recipe

…Is still a mystery, unfortunately.  The recipe is as follows:  KETO 10% + LIDO 5% + NEUR 6%

What I do know:  10% ketoprofen + 5% lidocaine

Ketoprofen is a common NSAID, and lidocaine is a common anasthetic.  I suppose what Dr. Levey had been calling “aspirin” was just a catchall name for the NSAID in the cream.  What I don’t know, however, is what Neur 6% is.  I’ve been googling, but I’ve also been realizing that I have a lot of homework to do… so if anyone knows what the last ingredient is, I’d be much obliged.

ETA:  Got it!  NEUR = Neurontin, aka Gabapentin.


Exhale.

I made it through the whole entire appointment without crying even once!!

I forgot how different a pelvic pain exam is from a regular pelvic exam though.  It’s like a clock game of DOOM.  So here’s how it works.  If you’ve got a vag, picture the “top” (toward your belly button) as 12:00 and the “bottom”(toward your spine) as 6:00; left is 3:00 and right is 9:00.  If you don’t have a vag… picture that you do.  And that it’s hurty.  Kay?  So the doctor is all, “okay, I’m going to touch 12:00 with a q-tip, tell me how much it hurts on a scale of 1-4.”  And you’re just like, “omfg kill me kill me kill me, fourfourFOUR PLZ TO BE STOPPING NOW.”  Then you go all the way around the clock!  It’s like a full twelve hours of wanting to be shot.  Well, actually, yeah.   Because the tension after an exam doesn’t go away for quite awhile, unfortunately.  I’m still all stressed out and hurty and tense.  Blerhgh.

I did get another prescription for the wonder cream, and the secret ingredients are revealed!  My prescription this time is just lidocaine + aspirin, but the stuff I had before was lidocaine + aspirin + steroids.  I’m picking up the stuff tomorrow, since the pharmacy is in midtown I didn’t go today, so I’ll update with specific percentages of medication in this magical stuff.  OH and the pharmacy?  Is named The Cure.  Clever!  And also I love The Cure (as in Robert Smith and friends, not as in the pharmacy).

Dr. Levey also recommended a vaginal botox injection for me, which I’ve definitely been increasingly interested in.  Apparently it’s becoming the go-to cure for muscular dysfunction patients.  The only thing is that it costs $3000.  So I’ll be contacting my insurance company and hopefully they’ll cover it, but the doctor’s office wasn’t too optimistic about that.  If they won’t cover it, I’ll start saving and just keep doing physical therapy, topical cream, and biofeedback in the meantime.  I’m really excited about this prospect, though!  The only confusing thing, and what I wish I would have asked today, is that it’s apparently a bad thing to have weak pelvic floor muscles (well, obvs that might make me kinda bad in bed if I could actually deal with anything penetrative, but I like to think that my other skills make up for that, thankyouverymuch).  So if weak muscles are bad, how does paralyzing them help?  Of course it stops the spasms and therefore the pain, but… weak?  Paralyzed?  I don’t get it.  I don’t even really know what I’m trying to ask, I’m just confused.

So the other thing is that I apparently have a fucking raging yeast infection.  And I was just like, “oh, more vag pain?  whatevs, par for the course.”  I noticed something was up, but the vulvodynia pain comes and goes sometimes, so I didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary.  Like sometimes there’ll just be a week or so where I can’t sit down or walk comfortably, or where having to wear underwear makes me want to scream, or something like that.  UM, that’s really fucked up.  It really puts into perspective how much pain I’m willing to put up with before I think there might be an unusual problem, though.  I’ve just been trying to ignore it and put it out of my head as something that’s unfortunate but normal, but now that I have an Official Diagnosis and some Prescription Drugs from an Important Doctor, it’s like I have permission to actually feel what’s going on.  And let me tell you internets, it sucks pretty bad.  It’s those damn baby washcloths that did it, I just know it!! I’m never going another month without my dear, dear cup.


Let the panic begin!

My phone just alerted me that I have an appointment with Dr. Levey, my pelvic pain specialist tomorrow.  Uhh, totally forgot that I had made that appointment, but I’m glad that I had the foresight to set an alarm a day in advance.  It’s really good that I forgot though, or else the gyno-visit-panic would have stricken me while in Mexico.  Ohhh boy, so now I have less than 24 hours of nerve-wracking anticipation.  At least I’m in the city and would have an easy time of finding some Valium or something if I get to that point.  So I’ve definitely got to spend today and tomorrow morning chilling out and trying not to think about it.  Maybe today I’ll get a pre-emptive “I spend money on frivolous shit in order to feel better and relax” manicure.

The total dread/fear of doctors apparently doesn’t show at the crucial moment though, as I’ve had a few disbelieve the whole “I’ve got pelvic pain” thing because I don’t scream and/or kick them in the face during the actual exam.  Doctors never notice the crying anymore because I’m really really good at crying in complete silence.  It’s a skill that I’ve honed over many years.  It’s kind of a shitty thing to be proud of, considering the kinds of situations that’ll make a kid learn how to do that, but it definitely comes in handy in some situations.  The first few times I saw doctors about pelvic pain, I didn’t hold anything back because I thought it’d help them take me seriously.  Then a few accused me of “faking it” for attention when I did
scream or cry or kick someone.  There really is no winning with this, and unfortunately I have no helpful recommendations of how to behave during a pelvic exam if you’re in pain.  My game plan for the last couple years has been to explain the pain in words, but physically tough it out during the exam.  This is an awful thing to do and I absolutely do not recommend it, as “toughing it out” can make pelvic floor dysfunction (vaginismus, for me) worse, especially if it happens under stress.  My best advice, I suppose, would be to do what makes you feel most comfortable and to not worry about what doctors think, if they’ll take you seriously, or if they’ll think you’re overreacting.  Luckily, Dr. Levey is great and I don’t think I’ll have to worry about this too much, but it’s a conditioned fear after having so many others call me hysterical or a liar.  So tomorrow’s goal for me is to move past that fear and just remember to relax.

Relaxation and distraction are good for anyone with doctor anxiety, but are lifesavers for pelvic pain patients.  I definitely have to remember to bring my ipod this time, hopefully they’ll let me listen to music.  I haven’t tried that yet, but that’s what I did while getting my wisdom teeth out and it made it a little more bearable.  How sad to have to compare something so routine to getting my wisdom teeth removed…  Dr. Levey’s moved to a new office, so I’ll have new things to count.  That’s another good distraction–first count everything in the room that is circular, then count everything that has a handle… it can go on for hours!  For a long time I did this compulsively when under stress, but now I’ve got it down to just the doctor’s office.  One doctor told me to wiggle my toes during the exam, but I have noticed that other doctors think it’s very peculiar, so I stopped doing it.  Hopefully it won’t be too bad, I just need to avoid an anxiety attack and get out with a prescription for that crazy-miracle-aspirin-cream in hand.  If Dr. Levey is still making that stuff, I’ll be supremely careful to not rip the damn label off this time, so I can share with the internets.

So it’s a bit short notice, but does anyone have any other good distraction techniques?


Estoy en Cuernavaca y muy cabreado*

Okay so this blog is where I go to complain about my vag problems.  This problem is quite different, and is only here because I am absolutely furious and disgusted and upset and I can’t complain out loud right now.  It has very little to do with vulvodynia, so my apologies in advance.

I am in in a Spanish immersion school in Cuernavaca, Morelos, MX.  My DivaCup is in a drawer in Ithaca, New York, USA.  AND I AM SO ANGRY.  Oh, and my birth control is also in Ithaca, so I’m crazy, mean, and bleeding x 100000000.  A doctor put me on the pill when I was like 13 because I bled too much and had cramps so bad that all I could do was curl up and vomit.  Like, couldn’t even get to the bathroom to throw up.  And now I am no longer on the pill, so this is awful.  I don’t know how my pre-teen self dealt with this shit, but I’d like to meet her and give her a hug.  You know the kind of pain where you just want to break something and then pass out??  That is me at the moment.

I mean, leaving my shampoo and toothbrush in Ithaca is okay.  Annoying, but… okay.  This?  Is absolutely unacceptable.  There is nowhere in Mexico for me to buy a replacement.  I’ve checked online (google “comprar copa menstrual”) and everything is in Spanish.  That seems like the right direction, but no.  Because they will only ship to Spain and Portugal.  The LadyCup would ship to Mexico… in 10-20 days.  GODDAMNIT.  I bought some baby washcloths and velcro so I could get crafty and make my own cloth pads.  They’re super cute, but I’ve gone through three of the 12 in the last few hours.  And not to judge anyone else’s menstrual choices, but I haven’t used a pad since I was like in middle school, and I feel fucking disgusting, squishing around in blood.  I got some cloth pads (actual ones, not these useless washcloths) when I thought I’d be getting an IUD, but I only used them once and couldn’t deal with it.  I think my period is pretty neat, but this is just too much for me right now.  How do you sit down?  Or walk?  Or move?  Yo tengo una problema en mis pantalones.

OH AND HERE’S THE KICKER.  The reason that I can’t just go to the store and buy some?  Is that I’m allergic to commercial pads and tampons.  WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ME.  Oh, and the toilet paper at my school has these green flowers on it.  And I’m allergic to the fucking ink.  Who the FUCK thinks it’s a good idea to put colored ink on fucking TOILET PAPER??  I am so furious and uncomfortable right now, and I totally have to act like everything’s fine.  Everyone here is sooo polite and I don’t know how to properly be sick, you know?  Like, is it rude to want to curl up in bed all day??  I can’t skip school.  I can’t be sad or mean because this is a vacation for my mom and I, so I don’t want to ruin it.  And I couldn’t even begin to explain this to my host mother because my Spanish is awful, and if I tell any of my host sisters (in English, they speak it very well), they’ll tell our mom and she’ll make a big deal out of it… Everything here is a huge production and takes forever.  I just need my cup, like right this instant.

Honestly, I can’t believe how life-changing a little silicone bell has been, but I NEED IT.  I am bleeding on absolutely everything I own.  I have to sleep on a towel.  Before I came here I went shopping and I got these little shorts with penguins on them and they are sooo cute and now they are covered in blood.  Poor penguins.  God this fucking sucks. Seriously??  Who is allergic to tampons, for christsake??  WHAT.  Really?  Okay this is getting incoherent and I have homework to do.

*I am in Cuernavaca and very pissed off  (of course I mixed up ser y estar the first time I posted this, argh)