dealing with pain and dysfunction



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?

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