Archive for August, 2011

You Don’t Smell as Bad…

This morning, as I hugged my husband good-bye, my husband proclaimed “You don’t smell as bad as you used to in the mornings.”  Now, to some this may seem as an major insult, but to me, this “compliment” is a source of pride.  During my extreme throws of suffering with PTSD, I would ultimately wake in the morning smelling of sweat, a foul reminder of the nightmares, insomnia, and anxious restlessness that accompanied my “sleep.”  To not “smell as bad” means that there has been a critical change in my night-time routine.  It means that the PTSD is less and less reactivated during my hours of sleep.  It means, I am getting better.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

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The Passage of Time

So tomorrow I am going with my daughter to The Great New York State Fair.  As I sit hear thinking about going there tomorrow, I realize how “annual” events can help us remember where we were at that point in our life that we are reflecting upon.

August 2007-Pregnant with Daughter. Excited and happily awaiting my first child.

August 2008-Fair with 5 month old daughter.  I was just experiencing relief from dislocated left hip after having a series of cortisone shots.  This was the first time I really could “walk” around since having my daughter.  I carried my daughter’s diapers and my own.  Still unaware that my mental symptomology was more than just “new mother normal.”

August 2009-Fair with my 1 yr. 5 month old daughter.  I continue to carry my daughter’s diapers and my own. I am in full throws of PTSD and anxiety disorder but still trying to remain functional and preparing to teach the upcoming school year.

August 2010- Fair with 2 yr. 5 month old daughter.  I continue to carry my daughter’s diapers and my own.  I am out of work on medical leave at this point and in full throws of PTSD and anxiety disorder.

August 2011- Fair with my 3 yr. 5 month old daughter.  Neither my daughter or myself need diapers!  Treatment for PTSD is effective and efficient.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

PTSD

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Childbirth

It’s pretty rare to hear that acronym and childbirth in the same sentence.  However, it is not rare at all to develop PTSD from a traumatic childbirth experience.  It’s important to note that the trauma is in the eye of the one being “traumatized.”  In my case, pain, fatigue, feelings of helplessness, postpartum hemorrhage, poor communication, and a pervasive feeling that I was going to die on that hospital bed contributed to my PTSD. From the limited information I can rustle up, I have read that anywhere from 1-6% of women develop PTSD from childbirth.  That is a significant statistic when you are one of the percentages that deal with it, or one of the many loved ones that care for someone falling in that percentage.  It is truly bothersome to me that this mental illness is not linked to childbirth on a regular basis in an effort to get those afflicted into treatment quicker, and to apply preventative measures that limit the cases in the first place.   I can’t tell you how many times I have begun to explain that I have PTSD from a traumatic childbirth experience when the listener responds, “Oh Postpartum Depression, oh, I know what that is!”  Postpartum Depression and PTSD are different diagnosis, although both mentally debilitating to the person afflicted with the diagnosis.  It’s important to differentiate PTSD and Postpartum Depression because the treatments for both are very different and the illnesses deserve to be looked at as two separate entities.

Thanks for Reading!

Lauren

Interstim

So, as I’ve been alluding to in previous posts, I’ve undergone some major medical changes in the last month or so.  On July 22, I had a sacral nerve implant put in my body for a test run.  This sacral nerve implant, (Medtronic Interstim for Bowel Incontinence) was just approved by the FDA in April of 2011, so I need to believe that I am probably one of the first people to try this new therapy out!  This nerve stimulator has changed my life.

I heard about Medtronic from my rectal surgeon in June and was ready to try anything that could possibly increase my ability to control my bowel incontinence.  Medtronic Interstim has changed my life.  From the moment of implant, I recognized changes in my function.  I could feel again.  I could clench again.  I could CONTROL my bowel movements again.  It is truly a miraculous therapy.  I have very little issue with bowel incontinence since the first implant.

It’s really unbelievable!

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

Physical Therapy

So, today I was “discharged” from Physical Therapy.  I have been in one form of physical therapy or another for a little over 3 years.  I have seen 2 very competent physical therapists with very different styles.  I have learned that in physical therapy, the sphincter muscle is treated just like any other muscle with an issue, and a great therapist can treat it as such.  I have done vaginal probe biofeedback, rectal probe biofeedback, ultrasound, scar reduction therapy, pressure point therapy, and too many keegals to count!  I know how many tiles are on the ceiling at my PT’s office because I have counted them as I try to zone out the pain I feel when stretching something that does not want to be stretched.  I have learned coping mechanisms and key exercises to help regain some of my bowel continence function.

I was discharged today because my PT determined, with my support, that the recent INTERSTIM medical intervention I underwent helped my muscle tone by increasing sacral nerve support.  I could squeeze her finger  with more pressure and with longer duration than I have ever done before.  I get to go to PT on an “as needed” basis.  This is such a relief.  What will I do with all of this extra time on my hands, now that I don’t need to go to PT on a regular basis?  More keegals, of course!

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

The Incontinence Issue

I never thought much about going to the bathroom until I couldn’t go effectively.  I guess that is how it is with most things you take for granted.  You don’t know what you have until it’s not there!

A third degree tear during childbirth caused my incontinence.  This tear was caused by many things.  The use of forceps, a large baby, and a sunny-side up position of the baby at birth.

Fecal incontinence is when your sphincter just isn’t working anymore and you tend to leak stool, have total accidents, and constant smearing.  This just is not fun for a woman in her late 20’s!  Not only is it not fun, it’s not talked about.

The shame of incontinence and the taboo of the topic is rampant in our society.  How many women do you know that are under 80 that talk about their bowel movements easily?  I’d like to take away that shame.  Fecal incontinence is a real problem for women with tears from childbirth.  It’s a real problem with a real solutions if you know where to look for them!

Testing and Treatment are available once you start down that right path.  A rectal surgeon, and a physical therapist are invaluable resources to get the ball rolling.  Testing, although not pleasant, provides you and your treatment providers with valuable information about where the weaknesses are in your sphincter muscle, possible nerve damage, as well as a host of other medical maladies related to sphincter function.  Treatment depends on exact damage diagnosis and will vary from patient to patient.  I found treatment in diet modification, extensive physical therapy, and most recently, medical intervention that implanted a sacral nerve stimulator to restore function of the sphincter.

More Details in Future Posts,

Thanks for Reading!

-Lauren

The Trauma(s)

I just want to expound upon the somewhat vague ideas of physical and emotional trauma alluded to in the purpose portion of my previous post.

The following traumas are results of my childbirth experience:

Physical Traumas:  Third degree tear, hip dislocation, postpartum hemorrhage, Fecal incontinence

Emotional Traumas:  Diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and related Anxiety Disorder

I hope to address all aspects of the traumas and treatments in future blogs.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

The Purpose

Hello Friends!

The purpose of this blog is to talk about the physical and emotional traumas that can result from the act of childbirth.  Mother’s often joke about the “pain” of childbirth and for some women, it is true, that the experience is just that, an experience, a small portion of your life in which you birth your child.  However, for others, such as myself, the physical and emotional ramifications of childbirth have been more than “an experience.”  It has been a lifestyle change, a journey, and ultimately a calling that has led me to write down my thoughts as a way to advocate for others in similar situations.

I wish I could have written about my experiences, feelings, nightmares, and triumphs the whole journey, however, blogging about said material proved an undeniable trigger.  It is only in my recovery that I can begin to recollect the experiences without an overwhelming sense of fear, insecurity, and anxiety.  I hope my blog can serve as an inspiration, and an informative guide to those currently struggling with any, all, or more of the circumstances that I will blog about.

Thanks for Reading!

-Lauren