dealing with pain and dysfunction


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Physical Treatment category.

In Tune

Since I was asked to describe my current symptoms during my interview earlier, I thought I’d give an update here, too.  After talking about it out loud I feel a bit more in tune with my body and what’s been going on lately.  I’ve been trying so hard to ignore all the reoccurring pain symptoms that I hadn’t stopped to think about it until someone asked me outright.

I mentioned earlier that the stabbing night pains are back, unfortunately.  Those usually happen when I’m already asleep or just falling asleep.  All of a sudden I’ll be woken up by a terrible, sharp pain, usually on the left side of my pelvis and shooting through my left leg and up my back.  I described it earlier as being kind of like a charley horse–you know when you stretch your leg or foot a little oddly and then are writhing in pain with little to no notice?  Like that, but vaginally.  And since it’s not really an area that can be stretched all that well, I just kind of have to roll around in bed making awful noises until it goes away.  Ugh.  I like to pretend that drinking a glass of water helps.

Next up is the duller, throbbing pain that happens in the late morning or afternoon, typically if I’ve either been walking a lot or sitting down for too long (can’t win, eh?).  It feels a little deeper than the stabbing pain, but also comes on really suddenly and doesn’t go away for maybe 10 minutes at a time or so.  This one’s bad because getting up to wander around and try to make my vagina pains stop isn’t always an option, say, when I’m in class.  On the other hand, if I’ve been walking too much I can’t usually just… stop where I’m going, either.  Since it happens in the middle of my day I’m typically distracted from something important, too.  As an added bonus, I’m extra tense after these episodes, which leads to the threat of repetition or, worse, more stabbing pains later on.

And lastly, in a triumphant return, the vestibulitis seems to be experiencing a spring rebirth.  I haven’t tracked this to a particular trigger yet, which makes it possibly more annoying, but random burning is driving me mad lately.  This is definitely vulvar/external pain, and I do. Not. Want it.  Plus there’s nothing I can do about it—the burning doesn’t stop no matter what I do, so I usually just start to feel way too sorry for myself.  I’m starting to get concerned that it might have some kind of food trigger that I haven’t discovered and am not patient enough/can’t afford to figure out.  I’m a brokeass college vegetarian—there’s not a whole lot of food experimentation I’m willing to do right now.  Plus if I ever tried the low-oxalate diet I might actually die.  Or at least pass out sometimes.  I pretty much subsist on high oxalate foods (dark leafy greens, nuts, grains, beans, coffee, chocolate… hah).  Fail.

So it sounds like both the unprovoked vulvodynia and vulvar vestibulitis are back.  If I see vaginismus around these girlparts I’ll be pretty upset.  I should probably resume dilator therapy, but… ugh.  Maybe the outdoor yoga will keep me chilled and relaxed enough to stop vaginismus redux?  Here’s hoping.  I think the warmer weather might help, too.  This is just a sad and scary reminder of how I used to NOT BE ABLE TO WEAR PANTS WITHOUT WANTING TO SCREAM.  WTF.  Definitely don’t want to get back to that point, but once it’s nice out again, dresses and skirts will be in order and there will be no threatening seams and tough denim.  That’s right… jeans are threatening to my wellbeing right now.  The laundromat shrunk my favorite skinny jeans though, so at least I don’t even have the temptation any more.  Saaaaad.

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Improvement Time!

I spent all of today in bed.  Well, I got home around four this morning, and did walk across the hallway of my tiny new apartment to make some food once, but other than that?  In bed.

I think today will serve as a good precursor to tomorrow, which is my new Time to Start Improvements Day.  I can’t find a job, my classes are easy, and there aren’t enough people here to keep my attention.  I sit around reading or on the internet all day, and I could be using this time to improve my health.  I can’t afford to keep seeing the one physical therapist in Ithaca, but I am going to try to call and see if I can get something super quick/over the phone/I don’t know but it needs to be free or else I’m hanging up.  If that doesn’t work, there’s a new blogger that has listed some of her daily exercises so perhaps I could use some of those.

I’ve been using a lot of my unemployed time to bask in the sun at an outdoor cafe or on the slope (aww Cornell, ilu), but starting tomorrow that time is going to be used for hiking or at the very least, walking all over the place.  Summer always makes me so sad about not being able to ride a bike.  I know that I wasn’t born with this pain because I remember riding my bike pain free until maybe 13 or 14.  I miss that proud feeling of getting to the top of a steep hill and then getting to coast down, with the wind in my hair and sun on my face.  Sigh.  Maybe someday.

In other physical fitness news, I downloaded Yoga for Better Sex, and will also give that a go tomorrow.  Yoga and breathing exercises have been recommended to me by both physical therapists I’ve seen, and it seems like Yoga for Better Sex would be killing two birds with one stone, as it were.  I like yoga, I like calming down my pelvic floor muscles, and ideally, I’d like to have better sex.  I’m getting kind of concerned that I’m terrible in bed (at least as far as any penetrative sex goes), which is really stressful and annoying.  I’ve been at it for like, almost seven years, I feel like I should know what I’m doing!  It’s not even really an issue, but now that I’m not in a relationship, it’s in the back of my mind that I am bad and don’t know what I’m doing and everyone else does.  Ugh.  I’ve been really pissed that I’ve been robbed of my seven years of sexual experience, I should have this shit down by now.  If I didn’t have any pelvic pain issues I’m sure I’d have some great skillz by now, right?  Damnit.

In trivial news that is also about some kind of improvements, I am decorating the shit out of my apartment over the next couple weeks.  And not in a classy way, either!  I’ve got rolls and reams of colored paper, and there will be cutout flowers and birds and clouds and and and it’s going to be the awesomest apartment ever!  On a slightly more related note, when I moved it took me forever to find my good lube (Hydra-Smooth, which they no longer carry at Babeland!  I don’t know what I’ll do when I run out!).  I was in a straight-up panic, tearing shit up, trying to find this lube.  Because seriously, there’s no way in hell I would even consider doing dilator therapy without it, let alone any other activity that may be made easier with lube.  I eventually found it hidden somewhere–it seemed like a great idea at the time, my dad was helping me move and so I discreetly distributed anything he wouldn’t want to discuss with me among my other things, wrapped up in sweaters or feather boas or something.  I found it eventually though, big sigh of relief.  And I just found Hydra-Smooth is at drugstore.com, so I’ll have to find some other way to support Babeland.  I’m sure they’d be able to help in my new-found lack of sexual confidence.


ow.

that’s all.

too much pain lately.  now that i’m done with classes (originaly typo confession:  down with classes… i’m totally not down with that, actually) i’ll have time for physical therapy with the one PT in ithaca.

um, stupid update but i feel like i haven’t written in awhile.


Dilator ≠ Penis

Okay so I should have seen that coming.  At least I tried with someone I’m comfortable with, because it would have been completely impossible in any other situation.  I’m now able to comfortably start with the third-to-last dilator, second-to-last is challenging but not painful, and the last one is not good.  Maybe an inch or two in it feels like hitting a wall (vaginimus, obvs) and if I push it, it’s just painful.  And instead of taking that as a warning sign, I decided to pretend like everything’s okay and forge ahead anyway.

The bad:  it hurt just as badly as I remember it.  It had been a really long time, but it’s still just as painful.  The tearing/papercut feeling afterward was just as bad, and I didn’t really want to move or bend over at all.

The good:  Since I’m so ridiculously prone to UTI’s, I always have to dash to the bathroom afterward.  Usually I use that time to curl up into a ball and cry because I’m so burny at that point.  Like imagine peeing razors.  But this time it wasn’t so bad, it hardly hurt at all.  I’m still a little achy (I think this was Thursday night, it’s now Saturday) and feel a little bruised or something, but the burning was gone in record time.  I think that might have to do with my regular use of the lidocaine/aspirin/gabapentin cream.

The stupid: Sex is nothing like dilator therapy at all, I think because I have so much less control over the situation.  I don’t know what possessed me to do that, I knew it was going to hurt.  It might be helpful to use something more realistic for therapy, but frankly I don’t want this guy hanging out in my room.


May is National Masturbation Month

And I think that makes it the perfect time to start, um, a relaxation experiment.  I can no longer afford to attend physical therapy, so I’m just going to continue with the stretching exercises I learned at the first session, dilator therapy, deep breathing, meditation… and masturbation.  ‘Cause what’s more relaxing that an orgasm, right?!

Another benefit:  the Implanon-related spotting seems to have slowed or stopped.  Yay!  Maybe vulvodynia isn’t so bad, I’ve spent a long time on this yesterday (come on, the dilators take forever, it’s not like this is *just* for fun) and it feels like I accomplished something.  I got off a few times and made it all the way up to the last dilator.  Nevermind that it’s study week and I haven’t really done much for classes.  What a productive day.

Just because I’m super excited about this, repeated for emphasis:

I made it up to the last dilator!!

I’m going to throw myself a party in public.  Okay, so this will probably amount to me getting some kind of treat and listening to happy music and skipping around a little bit, but I’ll call it a party.  No, I know… I’ll mentally co-opt a friend’s party this weekend and pretend like everyone’s there to celebrate meeee!!


too many posts on the dancefloor

I have more interesting tales to share with you!  I’ve been using the super special pelvic pain concoction again for about a week now.  Tonight was the night that the burniness reached bearable levels!  There’s a trick to it though.  After applying, wait about 15 minutes, no underwear and no lying down.  Then it’s not so bad.  A significant improvement from the starting point of doubled over and teary-eyed for a good half hour.

Dr. Levey originally said that the mixture should be used for two months before I see improvement.  But the last time I stuck with this for any length of time, it was about one month and I noticed significant improvement as far as penetration pain was concerned.  What I never vocalized:  The time it didn’t hurt I had forgotten some pills and therefore used a condom.  For awhile I was secretly convinced I was just allergic to penises.  Then I remembered the q-tip test…


Specialist visit III

I had another follow up visit with Dr. Levey this morning, and I’m feeling a bit unsettled.  I haven’t been doing enough as far as biofeedback/dilator therapy goes, and I totally got called out on it.  I make a lot of excuses to myself about why I can’t get started properly:  month-long yeast infection from hell, too many classes, too much work, not enough sleep, too much work, too much work, too much work.  Well, fine.  I’ve just gotta drop a class and sleep less.  I think I’d be a little less determined if the pain wasn’t gaining on me.  I’ve been having odd spasms lately, and I don’t really care for that.  There’s also some irritation bullshit going on, and I would really like to walk around/wear underwear/sit with my legs crossed/whateverthefuckelseI’mnotabletodonormally.

Speaking of which, I had a glance at my file when the doctor left the room, and apparently at my last visit I was diagnosed with vulvar vestibulitis.

Okay, sweet.  Thanks for letting me in on that little secret.  Maybe I’m just pissed at having to pay out of pocket and needing an (incredibly expensive) ultrasound at my next visit.  But… maybe I’m just pissed in general.  HOW did I leave that office without hearing about this diagnosis?  Oh well, I guess.  That’s what happens when you enter into the system of western medicine–you know fuckall about your own health and you pay lots of money for your continued ignorance.

See, toldya I was pissed.

Anyway, my glance also afforded me the full name of the mystery ingredient in the topical cream.  It’s Neurontin, aka Gabapentin.  Because gabapentin is always prescribed off-label, I’m now completely reassured that there isn’t anything sketchy going on here.  There’s one pharmacy in midtown that mixes this stuff up, and I’m sure that it could be replicated anywhere else, so long as the prescribing doctor was comfortable doing so without regulation.

Other things from the file that made me LOL:

“More than 50% of this visit was spent counseling the patient”

“Current problems – detail view”  (this section had its own little scrolly bar, hah)

Alright, back to business.  I mentioned the various period-related problems I’ve been having, and now there’s the possibility that all of these things are related.  I’m not sure, how, exactly, that would work.  Maybe he just meant that some people have shit luck?  But now that means that I have to come in for an ultrasound next time, just to see what’s up in my uterus that might be making it rebel so horribly.  Dr. Levey also suggested an MRI, but… no thanks.  Last time I had to take out my face metal.  They told me it would be fifteen minutes, so I removed the lip ring and handed it over.  I woke up in the MRI about 45 minutes later, and the piercing had closed, I had to shove it back through, I was far away from my official titanium-ball-screwer-onner… it was just bad news all around.  I am so not willing to do that again (and this time twice, and through cartilage, eww).  I just keep diverging from the point.

Hopefully, the ultrasound will show that I’ve got a massive uterus that’s totally fit for the Mirena.  Levey’s office has an anesthesiologist and they would be willing to put me under for the insertion.  But it would cost $1400, aka more than a month’s rent in Manhattan.  I’m such a fucking badass, I can handle it.  I’ll just go to Planned Parenthood, pay the $150 and hope for the best without being knocked out.  There are plenty of rich pill-poppers at Cornell, it wouldn’t be hard to find something to take the edge off, and I’m sure it’d cost a hell of a lot less than $1400.

Either way, I’ve got to do something about this, and fast.  I’ve had cramps for a week, and for no good reason.  I tried to start stacking packs of pills so I wouldn’t have to deal with this shit at all, and it severely backfired.  Instead, the cramps got worse and the bleeding lasted longer.  Oops.  I’m still not able to take any OTC painkillers though, and this is absolutely unbearable.  I mean, I have to function anyway, because nobody really cares about cramps.  They’re just a lady-pain, made up in my weak little lady-brain, after all.  God, I’m just crampy and mean and bitchy and rambly, I’ve gotta stop writing to the internet now.  Speaking of rambly, I’m getting a tattoo tomorrow, I’m back in the city, I’m not doing any work for a day or two, I’m going to eat some Indian food, omg yay!  Alright, we’ve all had enough.  I swear I’ll start writing decent posts again soon, sorry.


ohgodohgodohgod

I’m sitting in studio trying to get work done.  I don’t know why but I am in a dead panic thinking about this doctor’s appointment next week.  Seriously, it is over seven days from now, and I feel like I am about to have a full on panic attack already.  I think it’s because I just wrote it down so I won’t forget to go.  So now I am thinking about it, oh god.  Oh god.  No one is here but a bunch of grad students I don’t know and my phone is dead so I have to tell the internet.

Internet, I am freaking the fuck out.  Already.

What’s worse is that I finally made a consultation appointment for the Mirena IUD.  That’s not until early March, but I’m nervous about that, too.  I can’t stay on top of the pill well enough for it to be effective, I’ve only heard complaints about the patch, the ring is way too expensive and there’s no generic, and I’m too scared of the new Norplant because one of my cousins had the worst experience EVAR with old Norplant.  I need something hormonal because without some kind of regulation I’ll spend at least a quarter of every month curled up around a heating pad, unable to move or function.  How ridiculous is that?  I can’t have sex but I desperately need birth control.  My, what an inconvenient body I have.

I’ve tried hippie methods of all kinds, believe me.  None of them worked out, although the lavender oil massage was pretty fabulous.  Now that my stomach is permanently ruined from years of triple-shot espressos, a lifetime of way too much stress, and tons of painkillers, I can’t even take Advil for a headache anymore–let alone the extra-strength crap I’d take to get through the cramps of doom.  Even with like four of those shiny blue and yellow Tylenol I still couldn’t deal back before I was on the pill.

Anyway, it seems that Mirena is pretty much my last resort on the period-control front.  I’m spotting all the time from not taking the pill regularly enough, and Mirena would basically end my periods-from-helllll for five whole years.  That sounds so fabulous.  It’s just that… the q-tip test is hard enough, I can’t even imagine how the IUD insertion is going to go.  When I absolutely *must* have pelvic exams, I have to request the pediatric speculum.  I wonder if they’ll be able to use that for the insertion.  It’d be nice if they could just put me under and I could wake up with a shiny new Mirena in my uterus.

Maybe they could put me under next week, too?  It’s just a follow-up appointment, it’ll be fine.  I can calm down a bit, at least.  OH LOL, let me tell you something hilarious, my friends.  When I scheduled this follow-up, the receptionist gave me a card that said “FU Pelvic Pain.”  FU Pelvic Pain, indeed.


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.