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

 

 

It’s been TOO long!

As I sit and write this post, the thought of “it’s been TOO long,” resonates in my brain.  Yes, it HAS been too long since I last posted.  The excuses pile up…Yes, I have been busy with the baby.  Yes, I have been busy with the  general end of summer, beginning of fall, type things.  Yes, I have been busy sending my oldest off to kindergarten.  Yes, I have been busy getting a part-time job and engaging in my various other volunteer activities.  Yes, I have been busy.

On a very basic level, the fact that I CAN be busy….the fact that I CAN think of other things besides my past  trauma, my past physical and mental impediments, is exhilarating!!!!!  It is such a rush to realize that I am no longer tied to my past emotionally and physically to the point that the past is all I can think about.  The fact that my past no longer keeps me busy.  The fact that the present and future rule my world and I am not bogged down in irrational thinking and physical pain.

However, my mission will always be to shed light on birth trauma, in whatever way I can.  I am truly inspired by some wonderful individuals that post and write about a cause on almost a daily turn, a cause that I feel passionate about.  I am ready to get back in the swing of blogging.  I owe it to my past to pay tribute to a truly terrifying and difficult experience and to honor a hard-fought recovery.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

How To: Some More Konsyl Recipes

“Chocolate Shake”

1 frozen banana

1 cup of ice

1 cup of chocolate almond milk

1 teaspoonful of Konsyl

*blend until no chunks 🙂

“Almost Like a Pina Colada”

7-8 Frozen Strawberries

1 cup of coconut almond milk

1 teaspoonful of Konsyl

*blend until no chunks 🙂

“Vanilla”

1 cup of ice

1 cup of vanilla almond milk

1 teaspoonful of Konsyl

*blend until no chunks 🙂

 

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

The Loss of a Birth Plan

Trauma.  That word evokes feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, injury, shock, disbelief, anger, sadness, despair.  Trauma does not equally impact individuals. One person’s trauma may not be another person’s trauma.  Our perception of a trauma is very important.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is  about not only the trauma itself, but the individual’s perception of the trauma.

In terms of birth and birth trauma, it is very important to note that every birthing mother is is different.  Quite recently, I have been completely involved with individuals who are very close to me with birth stories that are wildly different from mine.  With every birth story I hear, I remember that I must withhold judgement about individual birth choices, as well as remember that violations of those individual choices can result in emotional and physical trauma.

In our society, women are often held to the “ideal” standard of an uncomplicated, unmedicated, vaginal birth with no postpartum complications.  Women base their entire birth plans on this way of bringing their child into the world.   Other women focus on delivery by way of cesarean section, basing their entire birth plans of this way of bringing their child into the world.

Unfortunately, having the type of birth you want is not always possible-be it by way of the vagina or via cesarean section.  Sometimes medical professional’s personalities as well as very real medical circumstances cause an individual’s birth experience to be somewhat or completely out of  her control. The reality of birth is that circumstances can change in an instant, causing birth plans to shatter, and idealization of what we, as mothers, thought was going to happen, to go out the window.  Unfortunately, this is a hard reality to hit up against in what can really be a women’s most vulnerable time.  In the instant of birth, you are often the most exposed, most exhausted, most emotional being that you ever will be.  It is no wonder that when your beliefs are challenged at this time, when the plans are rapidly changed, when your control over what is happening to your own body is taken from you through circumstances you have no control over, that women DO feel violated, alone, and often helpless.  It is important to note that it does not matter what choice women made for their birth plan, or whether that would be your choice or not, it is still HER choice, and still HER violation when it changes.  And you know what, it does not matter if it HAS to change, that feeling is still there….that feeling of loss, helplessness, and despair.

When all is said and done, women often can look back objectively and realize medically WHY things happened the way they did…but that often does not erase that feeling of loss that whatever birth was envisioned did not occur.  It may take medical intervention, both physically and mentally to process the experience and heal from any physical and mental wounds that may have occurred.  Any experience IS traumatic to individuals when they perceive it be, and it is not up to society to decide what kind of birth a person should have as well as decide how a mother should perceive the deconstruction of the birth plan during birth.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A Gathering

About a month ago, I was asked to facilitate a support group specifically geared towards those suffering with bowel disorders.  This group is the first of its kind in my area and I am humbled and honored that I was chosen to lead this gathering of individuals with similar issues.  Honestly, even with the outreach to individuals telling them about this group, I was hesitant to think that we may have a large turnout to this type of meeting.  It is an unfortunate truth that many individuals afflicted with bowel disorders remain silent…not because they necessarily want to, but more because society stigmatizes the ability to talk freely about issues such as these.

With great pride, I am pleased to announce that between 15 and 20 individuals showed at the first meeting.  Brave individuals who summoned the courage to share their stories, listen with an open heart and mind to others, and work with me to shape future gatherings into meetings that are both productive and encouraging.  I am truly blessed that I have been given the opportunity to facilitate these meetings.  I am excited about the possibilities of shattering societal stigma, beginning with the small group dynamic, and spreading out into the general public by raising awareness of these very personal issues.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

How To: The Konsyl Corner

In an effort to remain supportive and informative to those needing and requesting some of my fiber secrets, I’m dedicating a space on my blog to Konsyl.  What is Konsyl?  It is a fiber supplement that was recommended to me by my rectal surgeon.  I take it every day and it allows my bowels to work in harmony with my Interstim implant.  I have found this supplement provides me an easy way to incorporate additional fiber into my diet without ingesting large amounts of food.  Through daily exploration, I have found some pretty tasty ways to make Konsyl a part of my daily routine.  If you, like me, need to up your fiber intake, I invite you to try Konsyl as a way to get what you need.

My favorite Konsyl recipe:

8 ounces Vanilla Almond Milk

5 Frozen Strawberries

1 Teaspoonful Konsyl (Original Formula)

Place Vanilla Almond Milk and Strawberries in Blender. Mix until smooth.  Add Konsyl.  Mix until incorporated.  Drink Immediately. (It is important to drink any Konsyl beverage immediately due to the nature of the psyllium fiber-read warnings and instructions on supplement directions)

I hope to add more Konsyl recipes here in the near future.  For now, I encourage you to start adding fiber to your diet, regardless if you “need” to or not.  For more fiber recipes, check out this Bran Buds post or this Bran Buds post.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A Perfect Birth

Birth without trauma.  Birth in which the mother and baby are healthy and happy.  Birth which leaves no lasting ramifications, either physical or emotional.  A Perfect Birth.  That’s what I have now experienced with the birth of my son.

Going into birth this time, I was ready.  Ready, educated, and excited.  My pregnancy before this delivery was rocky, to say the least.  Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction, two hospital stays due to illness, and a last-minute run around regarding getting the delivery I wanted (and needed) posed real issues for me.  However, the delivery, a delivery that myself and my doctor agreed to be most beneficial to mother and baby, was such that it set up “a perfect birth.”

My son’s birth story:

I went into the hospital at 11:30, with the understanding that the c-section would take place at 1:00.  I was 38 weeks, 2 days and with no indications of imminent labor, I understood that my surgery could be “pushed” for emergency patients.  I was made comfortable while waiting for my turn, and an IV was inserted, and any questions I had were answered.  A little after 1:00, I was wheeled into the delivery room.  I walked myself to the bed and was told how to sit for an effective spinal.  All the while, the medical professionals present were kind, understanding, supportive, and reassuring.  My spinal was placed without incident and then I was instructed to lie down.  Once numbed, I was happy to see my husband arrive by my head.  And then, the incision, the surgery, and less than 8 minutes from first incision, my baby boy’s screams as he was born.  Perfect baby boy, who was immediately shown to me and then checked out by the nurses (with my husband by his side and in the same room).  Once wrapped up, my husband held him by my head as they stitched me up.  All the while I felt cared for, informed, and respected.  A complete opposite to my previous birth experience.  My husband, baby, and I ventured to recovery together where I was able to effectively breastfeed and bond with the newest member of our family.  Later that evening, my daughter joined us and our family of four was “officially” all together.

Since the birth, I have managed my pain and was off all pain killers within the first week.  I am able to walk now with the symphysis pubic dysfunction drastically diminished.  I have nothing but positive memories of the birth and my daily interactions reflect positivity.  I am looking forward to noting my progress at my 6 week check-up.  The baby is doing wonderfully as well.  Over eight pounds at birth, he continues to thrive, both feeding and sleeping as well as a 3 and 1/2 week old should.

The support I have had for this birth experience was immeasurable.  Thank you all.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Update: Getting the Run Around

Here is an update to my latest post, Getting the Run Around.  I just came back from my OBGYN doctor.  I feel very strongly that I am my own best advocate and I truly believe after my conversations with my doctor today, he has my best interest in mind and will also strongly advocate that this c-section happens as planned.

So, here is the plan.  I go forward with the amniocentesis on Wednesday (a prerequisite to a cesarean before 39 weeks).  Somehow, my paperwork magically turned up and it turns out I am indeed all set and scheduled for the amniocentesis Wednesday morning, contrary to the original claim that I had no such procedure planned.  My doctor has informed me that due to the recent unprecedented amount of “inconclusive” results for fetal lung maturity, he will push for a second test to be performed that day if results are inconclusive.  If in fact, those results are also inconclusive, he will  continue to contact Peri-natologists until one will sign off on my c-section the following day.  If in fact he is met with further opposition, I will be called in to plead my case.

Believe me, I do understand that some elective c-sections are done too early, for convenience of the doctors or mother. I truly believe the scenario presented to me at this point is in response to the few that try for an early delivery for these reasons. However, that is not the norm. I am opting for an elective c-sections because of very valid emotional and physical reasons.  I am well-educated about my choices.  I have been under great prenatal care, and have been monitored solely by one doctor throughout my pregnancy.  I have a very good read on the dating of the baby due to an early dating ultrasound.  My doctor agrees and promotes my decision, and, furthermore, dictates that the baby is healthy and able to be born on the date we decided on.  There’s no reason that this hospital policy should trump my doctor’s ability to assess my physical and mental health, as well as the baby’s health, when he has been the one monitoring me for the last nine months.

And that, my friends, is my update.  Hopefully the next post will be about the safe and uncomplicated arrival of my baby boy!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Getting the run around….

In reading about other individual’s experiences with elective cesarean, I have counted myself lucky that the opposition from medical professionals that many mothers face in obtaining the right to choose this type of delivery is something I have only READ about.  Until now.  This past weekend, my OBGYN doctor called me with a heads up that “we may have a little problem with your planned c-section.”  My doctor, (who is a huge advocate for my planned elective cesarean that is supposed to take place in 3 days), has received an e-mail from the hospital I am set to deliver at asking him “why is she (meaning me) choosing this mode of delivery electively at 38 + weeks gestation?”  Furthermore, the hospital is claiming that the amniocentesis appointment that has been set for months for the day before the scheduled c-section is not set up. (even though I have paperwork confirming the appointment). The claim is that there is no appointment, therefore, no ability to process to lung development, therefore, no elective c-section.  In addition to these claims from the hospital, my OBGYN has informed me that many mothers going in for an elective c-section recently at this hospital have been faced with “inconclusive” findings during the amniocentesis, therefore, the elective c-sections for these mothers have been cancelled, resulting in a later rescheduling or more likely, the need for the mother to go into labor prior to having a c-section.

I find this completely unacceptable for the hospital to pull this little stunt 3 days prior to my planned c-section.  Not only do I believe that elective cesarean IS the better choice for delivery, I have medical indications that support my right to demand an elective cesarean section without trial of labor.  These indications include:

1.  Previous BOTCHED vaginal delivery in which I was in labor for over 30 hours, pushed for over 3, and delivered a sunny side up 8 pound 14 ounce baby girl with forceps.

2.  A third degree tear, dislocated hip, and severe postpartum hemorrhage immediately following delivery.

3.  Resulting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with related Anxiety Disorder directly related to trial of labor and vaginal delivery.

4.  Resulting permanent damage to rectal sphincter and fecal incontinence directly related to trial of labor and vaginal delivery.

5.  The medtronic Interstim for fecal incontinence device that I have placed on my sacral nerve does not support the trials of labor and delivery, a c-section is indicated as a better mode for delivery.

6.  The current SPD, symphysis pubic dysfunction, that I am dealing with will only get worse with a trial of labor and delivery, a c-section is indicated as a better mode for delivery.

Because of all the above indicators, my anxiety level is through the roof just thinking about a trial of labor, that could possibly result in a vaginal delivery.  Also, the closer I get to my due date, the more likely my elective planned c-section will become a c-section that results after I go into labor, which is not an ideal situation for me, emotionally or physically.  I know with certainty that my OBGYN is on my side with this, and he is currently trying to sort the whole thing out with the hospital.  Later today, I have an appointment with my OBGYN doctor and I hope it brings good news.  It’s just a shame that I need to spend these next couple of days worrying over a choice that I should have the right to make without the hassle instead of mentally preparing myself for the joy of meeting my son via the certainty of a planned elective cesarean delivery.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Comparing Pregnancies

It is amazing to me how much pregnancies can vary.  With exactly 5 years between the pregnancy of my daughter and my current pregnancy, I have found that although I have hit the trimester milestones in the same months, my pregnancies couldn’t be more different.  With my daughter, pregnancy was pretty much a breeze.  Sure, a little morning sickness, some aches and pains, extreme cravings….basically- the hallmarks of a “normal” pregnancy.  With my son, extreme morning sickness, symphysis pubic dysfunction, inability to move without the aid of a wheelchair/cane, sickness leading to hospitalization, are just some of the maladies I’ve experienced throughout the duration of this pregnancy.

In truth, part of me (all of me really) hopes that the “suffering” with this current pregnancy is over the minute this little boy is delivered.  If that is the case, it would be in sharp contrast to the delivery of my daughter, where the “suffering” really began upon delivery and leached into a LONG physically and emotionally painful postpartum period.  Knowing that I’ve done all I can to be proactive for this upcoming delivery, and knowing what I know now about what “ideal” postpartum care should look like, I feel that I have done my part in the process for a successful delivery and postpartum period.  I feel prepared and educated and therefore, happy to know that I am in control of the direction of my postpartum recovery.

I know it is not reality to think that the logic “easy pregnancy=tough postpartum”  equates to “tough pregnancy=easy postpartum” but hey, it’s OK to imagine that might be the case, right?

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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