Archive for May, 2014

A Piece

Before.  Before I had my daughter, in March 2008, I was a person well versed in the art of lifeguarding.  I was a lifeguard, water safety instructor, swim instructor, special olympics swim coach volunteer, cpr/first aid certified.  I lived in the water from an early age, and at 15, decided to make lifeguarding my profession of choice until my college degree panned out.  At 15, I took my first lifeguarding course, and with ease, aced the physical and written portions of the exam.  Throughout the years, I kept up on all of my recertifications, and rarely did a day go by that my life wasn’t touched by water from 1995-2003.. I was either practicing, swimming competitions, teaching swimming, or lifeguarding. Upon graduating from college, I kept up on my certifications in lifeguarding, attending the requisite physical and written recertifications, but chose teaching in a land locked classroom as my primary objective in my daily life.  I always assumed I would keep up on these recertifications until lifeguarding would once again fit into my schedule, so as not to take the entire course over again.  However, that was not to be.

Another aspect of my life altered due to birth trauma.  Because of the incontinence, because of the pelvic floor weakness, because of the PTSD, because of all of these things-I was unable to keep up with my recertifications post partum.  In an instant, I lost a big part of me, a huge part of my identity as a person who practically grew up in the water, a person whose skin perpetually smelled of chlorine, a person whose very soul floated freely and happily everytime on the pool deck and in the water, doing something I truly loved.

This past week, I have reclaimed that piece of me.  Just another piece, previously shattered, picked up to create peace.  I have committed 20 hours in lifeguard training, experiencing and practicing intense and grueling physical rescues, as well as written examinations.  I have once again become a lifeguard.  I am able to once again watch the water and teach swimming lessons.  Why now?  Because I can.  Also, because I was offered a swim coaching position that required my certifications be up to date.  It was a battle, both physical and mental to obtain the courage and strength I knew I would need to regain this certification.  But I did it.  And, I’m proud.  

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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99 Calls

99 Calls.  As of next week, including my scheduled calls, I will have placed 99 calls as a patient ambassador for Medtronic.  In a little less than two years, I have spoken with 99 people regarding my experiences with Interstim.  99 “official” conversations about fecal incontinence have been expounded upon in an open and honest manner.  99 conversations that, prior to 2008, I could have never imagined having.  99 conversations that, on average, are 30 minutes a call, that’s 2,970 minutes, 49.5 hours, a little over 2 full days of talking about an issue that is stigmatized, traumatizing, and devastating to many people.

Modesty aside, I can say, I feel good about that.  I feel great that I am able to do something, able to help people at the time where they are questioning their future with fecal incontinence.  Able to alleviate fear and provide a sounding board for life’s stresses with fecal incontinence.  I feel as though I am providing a service that I so desperately craved at my time of decision, at the time where I was wallowing in the woes and uncertainty of a future filled with severe fecal incontinence.

The most amazing thing for me, however, is that 99 calls is just the tip of the iceberg.  The bowel disorders support group that I facilitate, the multiple e-mails I negotiate from my blog, and the conversations I have with people face to face all serve to get my story out there in an effort to let people know they are not alone! To date, this blog has been viewed over 17,500 times.  It is hard for me to even wrap my head around that number.  It is hard for me to imagine that those 17,500 + views have hopefully helped someone by educating them about my experience and hopefully provided empathy for the viewer’s individual experience.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story, and I invite you to pass it on.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren