Archive for The Trauma(s)

Cringe

Sometimes, I cringe.  I cringe when I hear stories about birth trauma.  I cringe when someone contacts me with yet another story of doctor incompetence resulting in physical and emotional harm. I especially cringe when the doctor that woman tells me about was the doctor who delivered me into my own personal hell.  I wonder if this doctor knows the impact she has on some of her patients.  The impact of her decisions, especially poor ones, on the individual women who she assisted during delivery and cared for postpartum.  The physical and emotional scarring from a doctor who I view as callous and without empathy.  I wonder, how many women have left her practice due to her incompetence, and then, I wonder, how many still remain?  I cringe.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Speaking UP!

Living with a bowel disorder is not easy.  In fact, it can be downright awful at times.  Besides the obvious physical discomfort, emotional stress is rampant.  As an ambassador for those suffering with fecal incontinence and a support group facilitator for those with bowel disorders, the theme of negativity around incontinence is a prevalent one.  In fact, I urge you, if you are NOT suffering with incontinence, to imagine a day when you may be.  Can you imagine how incontinence would impact your daily life?  I wrote about my experiences in-depth in this post here.  Can you imagine how leakage, urgency, physical pain in the rectal region, would change your outlook on your day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute happenings?

Remaining positive when dealing with your own bowel disorder is difficult.  Oftentimes, bowel disorders lead to increased isolation, as the individual suffering refuses to share such personal information, and/ or feels uncomfortable leaving familiar areas.  Often, people go years, even decades, before opening up about their incontinence to anyone, including health professionals.  This suffering in silence wears down a person, physically and mentally.

It’s time, as a society, to stop being afraid of talking about fecal incontinence.  Let’s not allow “pooping your pants” to be a punchline.   It’s time to create a safe space to identify, share, and discuss incontinence.  Only then, will people truly seek the treatment they need, and deserve.  And, guess what, I don’t mind starting the conversation.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

The first step to Wellness

Navigation of treatment is one of the many obstacles that an individual faces when dealing with trauma.  In both physical and emotional trauma, the simple confession, if you will, to oneself of one’s situation needs to be the very first step.  Admitting to yourself the need for help is one thing, but sharing your problem with another is often extremely difficult.  Unfortunately, when dealing with stigmatized trauma, such as mental illness and incontinence, the essential step of sharing one’s difficulty is often never mastered.  It may not be achieved for years.  However, once you are able to discuss your physical and emotional traumas with another human being, you have made a great leap into treatment.  Talking about your worries is crucial to treatment.  My treatment model followed the following path over the course of 3 + years:

1. Admit to myself that something was not “right” with my incontinence. Talk with my husband, Talk with my mother. See my OBGYN.-Unsatisfied with results. See a new OBGYN-Unsatisfied with results.  See another new OBGYN. Diagnosed with fecal incontinence. See a Gastroenterologist. Begin Physical Therapy.  See a Rectal Surgeon.  Have extensive testing on the sphincter.  Discover exact defect.  Enter specialized Physical Therapy.  Admit to myself that something was not “right” with my brain.  Talk with my husband.  See my OBGYN.  Get prescribed medication.  See Cognitive Behavior Psychologist.-Unsatisfied with results.  See EMDR specialist. Diagnosed with PTSD with related anxiety disorder.  See a Psychiatrist for medicine management in conjunction with EMDR psychotherapy.  Leave work due to PTSD, anxiety and incontinence. Rectal Surgeon prescribes new treatment for fecal incontinence.  Have Interstim therapy implanted. Discharged from Physical Therapy.  Discharged from Psychotherapy. Titrate off of medication.  Cleared to go back to work.

As you can see, for me, admitting WAS the first step on a journey that would take over three years to travel to wellness.  However, I continue on my wellness journey daily and to date it looks like this:

Start a blog, continue blogging, become a patient ambassador for Medtronic Interstim, become pregnant with second child, turn off Interstim implant, experience setbacks with incontinence and pelvic floor weakness, attend Physical Therapy, have second child, experience wellness with incontinence once Interstim turned back on, facilitate a local support group for bowel disorders, get a part time job.….be engaged daily with a life that seemed unimaginable in the immediate aftermath of trauma….

You can do it too.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

 

 

I Need Time

Recently, I came across an article, “I’m Having a Baby, Not Hosting A Party-Stay Out Of My Hospital Room!”  while researching the time of c-section recovery for the mother.  With a large, loving, local, extended family, I know that visitors are going to be itching to come and see the new addition to our family.  Like the author, Rebecca Eckler, I also feel that “Of course I want everyone to see the baby…but I don’t really want visitors…   Like the author, I am having a planned c-section.  Like the author, people know about the date and location of delivery.  Like the author, I’m worried.

Perhaps ,unlike the author, I am worried about having visitors post delivery mainly because I don’t know how I am going to be, or what I will be feeling, emotionally and physically.  After my daughter was born, I experienced the ramifications of both physical and emotional trauma.  I was unable to navigate all of the immediate postpartum emotions and physical discomfort with a clear head.  I was in shock, physically and emotionally, for the allotted time of “recovery” at the hospital.  I had many visitors to the hospital postpartum, well-meaning friends and family, excited to see the baby, yet unaware of my inner and outer turmoil.

Part of my years of PTSD therapy explored the possibility of having another child.  At first, the firm answer of “NO WAY” was the only sane answer I could come up with in regards to the question of “will you have another child?”  As time passed, and I became much more emotionally healthy, I realized my dream for another child was one that I could not ignore, one that I did not want to lose simply because of the trauma inflicted upon me.  The dream of having another child was a dream that was my right, a dream that I could fulfill by continuing to attend therapy and eventually be discharged with a healthy psyche.

Having another child, and facing my trauma, the trauma of a delivery, head on is not something that scares me anymore.  I realize that because of the enormity of what I am about to experience, I may be overly emotional immediately postpartum simply because of the nature of the experience.  I know I will be able to reclaim, in the physical and emotional sense, what was lost to me during that initial traumatic delivery.  I am going into all of this a much more educated and medically supported individual.  I have a team of medical professionals that are helping me to succeed physically and emotionally with this pregnancy.  I have me, a much stronger, better, advocate for what I need.

I’ve never thought of myself as a selfish individual, but I need to ask myself the following question in an effort to preserve my sanity, my spirit, and to protect my physical and emotional wellness.  “What do I need during those first few days?” I need time.  I need quiet.  I need peace.  I need to make peace out of the broken pieces of my first delivery by having this delivery, this experience, be different.  How much time do I need?  How will I achieve this quiet reflective time necessary for the reconciliation of and reclamation of my spirit?  How can I truly be at peace?  The answer lies in the events yet to happen during and after delivery.  The answer lies in the control that I feel postpartum.  The answer lies in my ability to let visitors know that I may need more time, just because, prior to them visiting the baby.  The answer lies in people respecting that time that I need.  Not only people respecting that time, but people appreciating that I am taking that time to heal, to make peace, to be joyful, to feel whole again.  The biggest question of all, the one that I cannot plan for, is how much time will I need?  I am unable and unwilling to answer that question at this time.  I just don’t know what it’s going to be like.  However, I do know that I will advocate for whatever it is I need to remain a healthy and happy individual.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Confessions…

My confession, I love to read. Recently, I read an awesome book, “Confessions of a Scary Mommy,” by Jill Smokler.  This book is an unbelievably honest take on all things motherhood.  It offers laughs, tears, and insights into motherhood in a way that is free of judgement and completely anonymously authentic.  This book provides a breath of fresh air, because it often expounds upon the things new mothers, and all mothers for that matter, are saying inside their skulls.  Things that are not always the things we say or think aloud.  And that, my friends, is the hilarious part, and the part that makes any new mother feel instantly part of this “scary mommy” community.

Not only is this a great book, it stems from a great blog, Scary Mommy.   Most importantly, there is a portion of this blog geared to “moms in need.”  After writing to Jill, she graciously decided to feature a link to my blog on her blog in an effort to reach those mothers who suffer in silence in regards to physical and emotional birth trauma.  Check it out!  Thanks Jill!

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

My Daughter’s Trauma

One thing that people always ask when I tell my story is whether my daughter suffered any damages because of the traumatic nature of the birth.  At the tender age of 4, I can assure you that cognitively my daughter is just fine, however, the first few months, weeks, and years were fraught with endless worry from me, her mother, about lasting physical and emotional damages from the traumatic birth.

At birth, my daughter suffered complete facial bruising and lacerations on the cheeks and top of the skull.  Namely, extensive bruising and cuts were located where the forceps had clamped upon her to hasten her exit from my body.  While she was not able to tell me her pain from these lacerations, I have to believe that she was uncomfortable, to say the least, judging by the extent of her wounds.

In the hospital, my daughter was also unable to rest effectively on her back and would only sleep in someone’s arms.  My understanding of this now is twofold; 1.  she needed comfort that all was OK and 2.  she had bruising on the back of her skull that proved uncomfortable to sleep upon.

Upon returning home from the hospital (about 50 hours after her entrance into the world), my daughter would not sleep.  She cried, cried, cried, and was unable to be soothed.  In fact, the first night in our home we needed to phone the on-call physician for advice.  Repeating her performance the second night home, the on-call physician was once again called and we were advised to bring her to a pediatrician on a Sunday morning.

Citing bruising and colic as her points of discomfort by the doctor, we were sent home with our daughter.  Her endless crying ceased at about 3 months of age.  Although never verified by the doctors, it truly makes me wonder whether her crying out and inability to soothe was an emotional function of her early birth trauma.

When our daughter started eating foods, we began to notice a severe flush in her cheek where the laceration had been most prominent.  When we brought her to the allergist (thinking it to be allergy related) we were asked if she had been a forceps baby.  While answering in the affirmative, we found out that she had nerve damage in her cheek, caused by the pinching, pulling, and tearing from the forceps.  The impact of this damage was described to us by the doctor as an involuntary response, a blush, that would occur when our daughter ate novel foods, or other foods that caused extreme sensation in the mouth such as sweet or sour.  My daughter still experiences the impact of this damage on a daily basis while eating.

So, while cognitively my daughter is fine, physically she still bears a scar upon her cheek where the laceration ran deep. She also suffers from the nerve damage in her cheek, while not painful, may prove bothersome to her as she becomes older.  My point-my daughter’s birth trauma was not the worst, by far, that could have happened. However, I think we all wish as mothers that nothing terrible happens to our children.  Birth trauma is all-encompassing, and, in my case served to impact not just me.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A Gift from my Daughter

For mother’s day this year, my daughter filled in a book titled “It’s all about my mom.”  By “filled in” I mean that she provided her answers and my husband scribed the words.

Besides being an awesome gift, the meaning of some of her candid responses struck me.

Some answers were definitely given from a 4 year old’s perspective.  For example:  “My Mom’s favorite flower-my daughter’s response: dandelion.”  “My mom likes to-my daughter’s response, get me a sucker at the bank!”

Other answers seemed wise beyond her years.  This answer caused me to pause, emotionally, for a very long time. “My favorite memory with my mom-my daughter’s response: when mom protected me from getting hurt.” 

After ascertaining that my husband had not fed her that response, I pondered her words. Why was this her response? Does she remember?  Does it matter if she was talking about then or now?  I’ve come to the conclusion that I will never know exactly what instance she was talking about.  I am overjoyed that my daughter knows I will protect her, knows I have protected her, and knows I will continue to protect her.  And that, my friends, is the gift that my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A Letter to My Daughter

So, I recently figured out that one day my daughter may read my blog.  And, I’m OK with that.  In fact, I’m more than OK with that.  However, I want her to read this blog when she is older, and I want her to read this post first.

Dear Daughter,

Please don’t ever feel guilty about what happened to Mom.  It’s not your fault.  I love you with all my heart and would gladly be torn apart again and again just to have your joyful face in our lives.  I cannot tell you how much I have worried that my mental illness and physical ailments could have impacted you in your formative years.  However, all my worry is for naught.  You have grown into a happy, productive, smart, and clever 4-year-old.  A 4-year-old unencumbered by Mommy’s trials and tribulations, but instead, supported by Mom and Dad’s strengths and unconditional love.

You are an amazing human being.  You intuitively recognize the times when Mom needs your help and you give me that extra support.  You provide me with the best reminder that something beautifully grand can come from a  devastating experience.  You fill my heart with joy and love each day.

I love you, sweet girl.

Love, Mommy

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Litigation

When reading my blog and hearing my story, interested parties often ask the question “Did you sue?”   The answer. Yes. and No.

We certainly met with the lawyers.  One.  Two.  Three Lawyers and law firms.  All of the lawyers had the same resounding sentiment about my case.  “A bad result does not always equal a lawsuit.”  All of the lawyers based their ability to build a case upon my shaky testimony (My PTSD impacted my ability to relay my side of the story).  All of the lawyers based their ability to build a case based on the hospital records (which were largely inaccurate and reflected good care by the doctor and hospital).  All of the lawyers based their ability to bring a case based on the time left in the statute of limitations (2 and 1/2 years)-we were approaching this time frame when we were deciding to bring forth the case).  All of the lawyers based their ability to build this case on the fact that there really was no “precedent” case available to judge their success with the case.  All of the lawyers based their ability to build this case against OBGYN’s medical malpractice insurance and the fact that it was rarely penetrable unless the case was totally clear-cut.

All of these lawyers were unwilling to take the risk on my case and convinced me not to take the risk because of the 100’s of thousands of dollars I would shell out, the stress it would put me under, and the stigma I would have attached to me in a very public light during trial.

Do I think it was the right decision to not pursue the case?  I guess it really does not matter what I think, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t speak the legal vernacular to understand if there was any way, shape, or form that my case may have been successful.

I do know that pursing a case in my condition (PTSD) would have been a brutal exercise in self-hatred as I would need to relay triggering events over and over in a very public venue.

I do know that when you need to sign that hospital records are accurate upon discharge-you really are in no condition to look over them with a fine tooth comb for inaccuracies (prior to signing) if you are in shock from a traumatic birth.

I do know that with a statute of limitations of 2 1/2 years, often mothers who suffer with PTSD are not able and willing to pursue a case in a timely manner, thus, often losing their chance.

I do know that there is STILL not a precedent case (that I know of in our area) that brings monetary relief for a women inflicted with emotional birth trauma.

I do know that it is extremely difficult to ever crack into OBGYN’s medical malpractice insurance.

Lastly, I do know that it was never about the money for me.  It was about my doctor saying that she messed up…It was about her saying sorry….It was about her admitting she failed me as a patient both during birth and postpartum…It was about making sure this didn’t happen to other patients.

I’m doing what I can on my end.  I’m trying to spread the word that there is help and hope for those suffering with birth trauma.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to understand how my “case” impacted my doctor and the medical community in which I delivered.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Searching for….Interstim?

A really cool thing about WORDPRESS, the blogging site I use, is that it tracks your stats.  One stat that is particularly interesting to me is viewing the “search” words that individuals use that result in producing a link to my blog.

By far, the most used search term to reach my blog is “Interstim.”  I find this linkage very exhilarating and useful.  When I was first exploring the option of Interstim, I, like many people, turned to social media to get “the real scoop.”  Knowing how a person implanted with Interstim contemplates the surgery, experiences success, and lives with the implant is an immeasurable tool when deciding upon a life altering procedure.  

I’m happy to be that person to so many people.  I would encourage those searching my blog for information and/or with questions regarding my experiences with Interstim to either contact me directly at peace4Lauren@gmail.com, or leave a comment.  I would like to be able to relate my most positive experience with Interstim with you in a way that is meaningful to you.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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