dealing with pain and dysfunction



New piercings and understanding vaginismus

Last Friday I got two new piercings–left and right low helix (about where this guy’s top one is, the barbell).  btw bmezine dude, if you ever end up here I’m sorry I linked to your ear without permission and I’m also sorry that I hate your jewelry.  I hope the black and green thing you’ve got going on is just bad photoshopping.

Anyway, mine are just past where the cartilage starts, so that means they’re going to take their sweet time to heal up.  They bruised after the first night, and the right side is still pretty bluish below the jewelry.  I’ve been sleeping on a rolled up towel so my ear hovers above the mattress and doesn’t have any pressure put on it (it’s way too hard to just try to sleep on my back all the time).  And it hurts like all hell breaking loose if anything touches the jewelery or the immediate surrounding area.  The first couple times I touched them while changing clothes or brushing my hair, I didn’t expect the pain to be so bad.  Now, a few days later, I am a lot more careful and I automatically flinch if anything comes near my head.  The flinching is very obvious and visible.  The right side is feeling much better now, but I still flinch if something is coming toward me–regardless of how much I actually hurt.  Once the flinch becomes a conditioned response, there’s no stopping it.

Since I’m a huge nerd and spend my days writing to the internet about my vag problems, I of course started relating the new-piercing-flinch to the sex-fucking-hurts-flinch, aka vaginismus.

I’ve always understood how vaginismus develops and why, what the mechanisms are, why I have it, etc etc.  When I say “understood,” I mean on some kind of academic or meta level.  Vaginismus is an unconcious “blink reflex” or flinch that develops in the pubococcygeal muscles.  I know this.  But what I don’t really know is how my physical response actually works.  I’m not sure if that makes sense, but the different ways of knowing are completely separate for me regarding this issue.  The flinch from vaginismus is not obvious or visible, in fact, it’s hardly noticable on it’s own.  The obvious part is the pain.  Because I can’t really feel that flinch–there is no big jump or pulling away like there is with the piercing flinch–vaginismus has always just seemed to be part of the pain condition.  Really though, it’s the same kind of thing that’s making me jerk my head around this week when I think something’s about to touch my ear.  I subconciously remember how much I’m about to hurt, and flinch away.  The conditioned response is exactly the same.

However, I won’t stop flinching until my ears have felt better for awhile and I’m used to the feeling of pain-free ears again.  The same goes for vaginismus–until I have the vulvodynia completely under control and there is no pain that continues the conditioned flinch response, I guess the vaginismus is here to stay.

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