Archive for The Treatments

Advocacy is the Key

I’ve found that advocacy, ME being an advocate, is the key to my healing.  Believe me, I am not discounting the endless hours of therapy, medical surgical advances, tears, and strife that I have gone through by wrapping it up in a neat little package of being an advocate.  It is because of those things that I can be an advocate.  It is because I recognize the pain, both physical and emotional, that I can relate to, empathize with, and educate those in similar situations. 

Being in my own little corner of the blogging world, I can begin to reach out to others in a way that I was not able to before.  I appreciate all of the connections that I am making with my statements, and urge the followers of my blog to reach out and the name of my blog to others that may be needing support.  The thing about fecal incontinence and PTSD as a result of childbirth is that it is mainly a hidden, almost taboo, subject so you never really know who needs to be reached and when!  It is my hope that my blog can erase the taboo nature of birth trauma and educate the medical community and our peers about a very real problem in our society.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

Elective Cesarean

One of the links that I recently posted was to a website that supports and promotes elective cesarean procedures.  This website is a critical one for me to visit, since I will be engaging in an elective cesarean if and when I have another child.  Sometimes, people think that a cesarean procedure in general is one of major medical intervention and more medical risk as compared to a “natural” birth.  To those people, I say, try giving birth the way I did, and then compare the interventions and risks between the two. (For really great information on elective cesarean-visit the website! http://www.electivecesarean.com)

Although I am not pregnant now, I am anticipating friends and families confusion as to why I feel a cesarean birth would be better for me, especially those who do not fully understand the trauma experience I am drawing from to make my decision. Our society works to promote the strong, natural woman-a woman who can do it all, a woman who can pop out a baby, unmedicated, and be back at work in 6 weeks.  A woman who needs to only resort to procedures such as cesarean in times of birthing emergency.

The idea of an elective cesarean brings me great joy.  To actually have the ability to plan and execute a childbirth is exactly the kind of birthing plan that appeals to me and makes having a future child possible. I have been told that I cannot give birth naturally again, because of all of the physical damage.  In addition, regardless of the physical damage, I have had enough emotional upheaval to never feel the need to push a baby out between my legs again.  Elective Cesarean is the right choice for me, and one, thankfully, my OBGYN agrees with.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to ALL!  As I think about this past year, I reflect where I was last New Year’s Eve.  Hoping and praying for something to feel “normal” again.  Not even knowing or imagining that something like Interstim would happen for me 8 months later.  Not realizing that my therapy (all of it) would end within the year.  It is truly amazing that a year can bring so much closure.  But, I would like to point out, it is not merely the passage of time that one needs to get over PTSD and physical problems.  It is through lots of therapy, hard work, medical interventions, and patience that one can overcome life’s obstacles.

With that perspective, I must keep in mind that my resolutions for 2012 won’t just happen.  I will need lots of hard work, and patience, to meet my goals.  Thank you, 2011, for showing me that medical interventions are amazing, therapy really works, and hard work can pay off.  Looking forward to a great and productive 2012!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Teamwork

In earlier posts I have talked about how I want to be a support to others who need help navigating the stigma of mental illness as well as a guide for those interested in the Interstim Bowel Incontinence therapy.  I should point out that I would not be able to do this if I did not have my own special support system.

My family-My husband, my daughter, my mom, dad, sisters, extended family..they’ve been by my side since the very beginning.  Listening to what I wanted to share, supporting me through my treatments, crying with me and encouraging me during my setbacks, and cheering my successes!

My friends-Old friends who kn0w the “before trauma” me and trust that their unconditional friendship will see us through to the other side.  New friends who understand that there was a “me” from before and trust that they will like her too!

My medical “team”-Rectal Surgeon, Physical Therapist, EMDR Specialist, Psychiatrist, OBGYN, and other medical professionals who have helped with one test or another

My legal “team”-Lawyers, Social Security Disability Right Advocates (this has not panned out financially, but it’s nice to have the members of your team that try to fight for justice!)

My Literary “team”– this team is in the works, my book is written, just need to work through the steps of publication!

Teamwork.  I know I am the major player, but there is no way that I would be able to recover without a team of knowledgeable and supportive individuals. THANK YOU!

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

Price Check Please?

Hey, you know that sound that happens when you scan an item for a price check?  That BEEP!  That’s the sound that occurs when I swipe my external remote across my Interstim incision site to turn it up or turn it down.  I’m not going to lie, it’s really cool.

What’s slightly less cool, ok, not cool at all, is the reminder that the BEEP sound generates about money.  Don’t get me wrong, I truly would pay any amount of money to get better, I think anyone would.  What I am saying is that the staggering amount that one pays to get better from mental illness and  fecal incontinence is amazing (and I have pretty good insurance!)

Let me give you the break down:

Copays-$50.00 per time. (OBGYN, PT, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Rectal Surgeon, General Practitioner, Gastroenterologist,  Hospital Stays, Testing) multiply this by 3 years of visits, some of them weekly, some monthly

Medicines-Varies depending on what it is

Out of Network Psychological Specialized Help-$130.00/hour (EMDR specialist) multiply this by 2 hours a week times a year and a half

Massage-$70.00/hour (I would love to do this more, but let’s say once every couple of months)

Incontinence Supplies-Pads, Bran Cereal, Extra Underwear, Enemas, Fiber Enhancers- approx. $50.00/month

Loss of Job due to inability to work-$48,000/year (2 years now)

I don’t even want to do the math…..Let’s just say our nest egg is gone and we live on a very tight budget.  But, it’s worth it when I see the results of my health continuing to get better.  As I said before, I have a very understanding and supportive husband who is in agreement that money isn’t everything, happiness and good health are.  Do I want a price check?  Not really.  But let me tell you, sometimes it is satisfying to hear that beep and know that I am well on my way to a better me!

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

I may have drooled…

Last week I went for a massage, and yes, I may have drooled.  OK, I’ll admit it, I did drool.  Getting a massage for me presently is calming and not at all a trigger for the PTSD.  When I first began going for a massage after I had my daughter, I needed to make sure to communicate to my masseuse situations that would be triggers for me, things that may simulate the trauma and result in panic.  If you have an empathetic and understanding masseuse, this communication should not be a problem.  Massage can help rid your body of harmful toxins by releasing knots in your muscles and producing a feeling of overall wellness for your physical body and mind.  I’ve continued to communicate with my masseuse about my current therapies, meds, and interstim surgery in an effort to get the most out of my time on the table.  I go to the same masseuse each time so that she has a file on me and my situation.  In the beginning of each session we create a plan for a successful massage that promotes wellness.  During the massage, the masseuse makes sure that pressure is adequate and  relaxation is being achieved.  After the massage, water is provided and future water intake in encouraged.  I can’t begin to tell you how calming massage is for me.  I cannot wait to drool at my next one.  You should give it a try!

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

Support Systems

This week I began my quest to set up a support system for those suffering with fecal incontinence.  The following is a flyer I distributed to my rectal surgeon’s office, another local rectal surgeon’s practice, and my physical therapist’s office.  If you are interested in the actual flyer for any reason, please contact me via e-mail and I will send it to you as a document.  Below is the flyer copied and pasted from my own document:

Dear Friend,

I suffer from Fecal Incontinence.

In March of 2008, I delivered my first born vaginally with the help of forceps.  I experienced a third degree tear in the process.  In the weeks following delivery, it became apparent that I had suffered damage to the rectal sphincter.  I was diagnosed with fecal incontinence and began physical therapy in May of 2008.

Because of the traumatic nature of my delivery, I also suffered emotionally.  I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with related anxiety disorder by the following year. 

The past three years of my life have been filled with endless appointments with physical therapists, rectal surgeons, OBGYN’s, psychologists, and psychiatrists’.  I ended up leaving work in April of 2010, after the physical and emotional stress resulting from the situation landed me in the hospital recovering from one of my many panic attacks. 

 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.

Recently, I have begun blogging about my experiences with Interstim as well as the events that caused me to be incontinent in the first place.  My blog is called Peace out of Pieces and can be found at peaceoutofpieces.com.  Please feel free to read, comment, and pass along to anyone that may be interested.

My goal is to facilitate a support group that allows people who suffer with Fecal Incontinence, have had the Medtronic Interstim surgery for bowel incontinence, people who are considering the surgery, inquiring health care professionals, and the advocates that support Interstim to come together to talk about pertinent and practical issues surrounding the therapy and the situation.   Please contact me if you are interested at peace4Lauren@gmail.com Dates, times, and locations for the group to meet will be discussed via e-mail.  I look forward to hearing your stories and meeting you in the near future!

Thanks for Reading!

-Lauren

40 grams

40 seems to be the magic number.  I begin each day with 40 grams of fiber.  I should take out stock in All Bran, because I go through at least a box a week!  Eating fiber is essential, even with Interstim intervention.  Some ways that I have found to get 1 cup of Bran Buds into my mouth in the morning:

Bran Buds with Yogurt and Berries

Bran Buds with Chicken Salad

Bran Buds with Milk (not recommended, unless you like the texture of glue)

Bran Buds with Almonds and Chocolate Chips

Bran Buds with Peanut Butter

I find that if I don’t eat 1 cup a day, I seem to backslide with my continence.  Eating the same thing every day may seem easy, until you actually have to do it.  If anyone has any suggestions for future recipes, let me know!

Thanks for Reading!

-Lauren

Brain ZAPS

So, I have been kind of quiet in Blog land lately and the reason for that is the withdrawal has hit me.  I mentioned in my earlier post that it’s no picnic withdrawing from medications and in fact I have been out of it for the last couple of days.  My body is experiencing fatigue, anxiety, loss of appetite, appetite for high carb. foods, headaches, body aches, irritability, nausea, and, oh yes, BRAIN ZAPS.  Brain zaps are aptly named because when you are experiencing one it feels as though your mind is being “zapped” by lightning, you’re short circuiting, and you have an excruciating headache.  I never knew what to call these until I started looking up my symptoms and found that other people have experienced this phenomenon.  Who would have known?  Hopefully, these will go away soon.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Titration

For a couple of years now I have been on medication for PTSD.  Under the watchful eye of a psychiatrist, I have been prescribed Prozac, Ambien, Xanax, and Venlafaxine in various doses and combinations.  Currently, I am “titrating” off of all of my medications, meaning, I am tapering off of them in a controlled and safe way.

The only medication I have left is Venlafaxine (Effexor) and I am currently on the lowest dose.  Getting off meds is not easy.  There is definitely a withdrawal component that makes you feel like an addict!  The addictive nature of these drugs is one that does not make it easy to just quit cold turkey.  Stepping down from the Venlafaxine has taken 3 months!  Side effects that I have experienced during my withdrawal are “brain zaps,” loss of appetite, hunger at times, fatigue, and generally not feeling well.  However, it really is worth it to withdrawal if you and your psychiatrist deem it appropriate.

If you have PTSD, you generally need medication to help support your psychotherapy.  They go hand in hand in my book.  The best advice I can give on this subject is to take medications and titrate off of medications with the help and support of a good psychiatrist.  For me, now is the time to get off all of these medications and I really am looking forward to not needing them anymore!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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