Sharing Positive Stories

24th April 2013

A testimonial of a patient who spent a year trying to obtain adequate treatment for her pelvic pain. Sharing her story, we hope to empower more women to take control of their pains and live a more fulfilling life.

“So returning to your question about what helped me more, I think every part in the process was very important.  

At the beginning it was very difficult because GP's are not very familiar with pelvic floor muscle problems and they often don't know what to do, how to support and where to refer patients. I had pain levels of 9 and 10. I was diagnosed with Vulvodynia in a sexual clinic and they instructed my GP to give me antidepressants and monitor them. I got until 40mg per day and I decided to stop them (gradually) as they were helping very little only when I increased the dose, but after that they wouldn't do anything at all. I asked a gynaecologist if my problem could be related to muscles and they told me that nothing can be related to the muscles and that I was going to live with Vulvodynia for the rest of my life. This came from a much respected specialist. 

At this point I couldn't work or go out for long periods of time and I was not having a normal life. I wanted to find out more as I couldn't accept that, so I looked on the internet. Many websites and stories were scaring me even more and stressing me out a lot as I read stories of women with this condition for years and with no cure. Also, I discovered that my other symptoms were called IC! I was going to the toilet every 15 minutes sometimes. But I kept looking until I found some positive stories from public forums online where women shared their successful stories and recoveries and interestingly enough, all of them were related to pelvic floor muscles!  So then I continued searching and I came across a book by Amy Stein "Heal pelvic floor". The exercises were starting to help so much and somehow my pain levels got down a lot. 

Then I wanted to see a women's health physio to have a proper treatment and it was when I found the White Hart Clinic. The physio treatment and the exercises took a huge part in my recovery. It was the start of getting better, even though it was not easy and it was not from one day to the next one. Being able to trust an expert in the matter (Christien Bird) was hugely important as well as the positive and continuous support from her. To see the improvement in the ultrasound screen was very helpful too. I really think the physio treatment was the first thing that helped me. Also being disciplined in doing the exercises as well as not drinking or eating irritants (coffee, spicy food, alcohol) while I was more sensitive was very important. 

After starting the physio treatment, I also wanted to see a gynaecologist (who was aware of pelvic floor problems) for my peace of mind and to be sure that there was nothing else causing the pain at the same time.  In my case I had to see a private gynaecologist because my GP didn't want to refer me to see one. However when my GP got a letter from the gynaecologist saying I did need to be referred to a gynaecologist because I might have needed an urethral injection to decrease pain levels if necessary (!), I finally got referred. Luckily after a few months the injection was not needed, but I did visit the gynaecologist a few more times.

So, women's health physio was the key factor, and the gynaecologist was a very good compliment too - and of course, having the loving understanding and support from my husband all the time. I was getting better and better with the physio. With relapses from time to time but the pain levels went down to 3 and in time the relapses didn't go to level 10, but to level 7 or so. Home care was very important too, like using hot bottles of water, massage, stretching, cardio vascular exercises, and to me, drinking alpiste milk helped to reduce the pain, keeping my muscles and internal organs relaxed.

But having said that, I feel that the other half that took part in my recovery was the stress management. Stress is the sickness of the world I believe and the responsible for most of our illnesses unfortunately. Besides, muscles contract when we are stressed. It is very hard to cope with it especially if we don’t know why we are stressed. We might be so habituated that it might feel normal to be stressed and we remain unaware of how stressed we are, psychologically or emotionally, financially, professionally, or all of them, or any other form of stress.

After I finally found out what the cause of my stress was (it took me a year to find that out!!), my pain remained in the lowest side, in level 1 or 0!  Sometimes it got back to 2 or 3 or 4 for a few hours, but then a hot bottle of water and relaxing my muscles really helped; keeping up with the alpiste milk helped me to get back to 1 or 0 level the next day too. 

So perhaps if the stress is not treated or the core of it is not found, it is logical to have bad relapses because the stress makes the muscles contract again and again, no matter how many times we relax them. And knowing is empowering.  If I stress a lot I do get small relapses, but I know what to do now. Next thing I have to focus is on how to avoid stress as well as keeping my body fit and relaxed. 

I am so grateful to Christien and the clinic for all their support and positive guidance all the time. Without them I wouldn't be so well now ".

Lucia

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