Posts Tagged ‘fecal incontinence’

“Till it’s gone…”

So many times I have heard the phrase used, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”

This is especially true with trauma.  In my case, physically and emotionally.

Hindsight is 20/20.

If I could kiss my sphincter pre-trauma, I would.  Yes, I am suggesting that if you have the ability to go to the bathroom, if you don’t even have to think about it, then, kiss your ass.  Because, guess what, it does a GREAT job.  You don’t even have to tell it to do a good job.  You don’t even have to go to physical therapy, eat a modified diet, wear protective undergarments, consider surgery-because, it’s working for you.  And guess what-you don’t know what you got till it’s gone- so APPRECIATE it!

If I could kiss my brain pre-trauma, I would.  Yes, I am suggesting that if you don’t have any of your neural networks tied up in adrenaline laced triggers, if you don’t have confusion, agitation, blocked endorphin flow, then kiss your brain.  Because, guess what, it does a GREAT job.  You don’t even have to tell it to do a good job.  You don’t even have to go to endless hours of therapy-because, it’s working for you.  And guess what-you don’t know what you got till it’s gone- so APPRECIATE it!

So, that’s it.  I didn’t know what I had, until it wasn’t there anymore.  Even though the fall-out wasn’t fun, if you’re able to get something back-it’s a truly awesome feeling.  Although it will never be the same, I can modify the phrase by saying- “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone…but if you can get it back, the appreciation and joy you will feel is overwhelming.”

So, excuse me, I need to kiss my ass now.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A Runcible Spoon

“They dined on mince, and slices of quince, Which they ate with a runcible spoon,”

 The Owl & The Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear

“What the heck is a runcible spoon?”  This was the question I was asked by my 4 year old daughter.  Overlooking the word “heck” as her word of choice, I asked myself, “what the HECK is a runcible spoon?”

Luckily, a friend with a smart phone quickly cleared up the confusion….A runcible spoon is….nothing, it is made up, it is vernacular associated with the writings of Edward Lear, being first introduced in his famous story,  The Owl & The Pussy-Cat.

This got me to thinking…how many times throughout my medical journey with birth trauma do I listen to “runcible” spoon jargon? I’m not suggesting that the medical community is speaking a made up language, which it turns out a runcible spoon is, I am more talking about the times I say to myself…”What the HECK is a (enter runcible spoon medical vernacular here)?”

While wading through a trauma that is rarely talked about in mainstream conversation, I have had many “runcible spoon” moments.

Some of my “runcible spoon” moments:

Pudendal Nerve, EMDR, defocography, Interstim, anal wink, anorectal manometry, fistula, prolapse

To all the above terms, and many more, I asked “What the HECK is that???”  As an advocate, I urge you to clarify those “runcible spoon” moments in an effort to maximize your care and further your understanding.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A Mother’s Sacrifice

I love my daughter.

I loved her before she was born, before I even knew her.

I want to make it very clear that I would do anything for her.

A mother’s sacrifice is one that does not always come willingly and with a lot of thought.  A mother’s sacrifice can be something that occurs instinctively and without hesitation.

During the course of birthing my daughter, I kept praying for a healthy baby.  When things turned traumatic, she was all I could think of.  At the time, it honestly didn’t matter to me what was happening to me, as long as she was safe.  All I wanted was her to be born healthy and remain healthy.

A mother’s sacrifice.  In my case, I sacrificed my body and mind that day.  I sacrificed my sphincter and my ability to properly defecate.  I sacrificed my brain and my ability to remain untriggered at reminders of the trauma.  I sacrificed my sense of well-being, both physically and mentally.

And I would do it again.

Recently, I read this story.  http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/06/indiana-mom-loses-legs-saving-kids-from-tornado/  This story highlights a mother’s sacrifice.  A mother who protected her children from the elements of a tornado and in the process lost her legs.   I don’t know how people feel about my comparison of this women’s life to mine, however, I truly feel a deep connection to her ability to sacrifice herself at a moment’s notice when faced with the trauma.  My trauma was not a tornado, but the feelings connected with both my trauma and the elements of a tornado are identical.  Extreme fear and helplessness caused both this mother and myself to react in a way that sacrificed our own well-being for that of our children.

The news has done a wonderful job portraying this mother’s courage and sacrifice.  Wouldn’t it be nice if, sometime in the future, the media would cover and support all types of trauma and the sacrifices that mother’s make?  Making birth trauma very real to others starts with an awareness.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Interstimcise

So, it’s March. And, I need to lose weight.  What better idea than to join the March Meltdown at my gym!

Since the birth of my daughter, in March 2008, exercise has been tricky.  Swimming, my main form of exercise, was not happening for a while (that whole fecal incontinence issue really put a damper on getting in the pool).  Anything that involved my pelvic floor (ab work, cycling)-not happening due to extreme pain.  Additionally, anything that wiggled my dislocated hip, caused me to let go of embarrassing gas, or possibly triggered my PTSD was not an ideal exercising situation.

So, I sat, and ate, and gained weight, until I weighed more than I did at my heaviest pregnancy weight.

February 2011, I joined a gym.  After years of physical therapy, and my high fiber diet, I felt that I could have a good handle on the pool situation.  I tentatively began aquasize classes, and slowly started swimming laps.  Of course, my going to the gym was always dependent on what kind of day my sphincter and mind were having.  I began to lose weight.

July/August 2011, I had my Interstim surgery.  Because of the healing time, I was out of the gym rotation for about 6 weeks.  You guessed it, I gained again.

And here we are.  March Meltdown.  Time to get serious.  Time to explore what I like to call “Interstimcise.”  This time, I am working with a personal trainer who knows about my Interstim Implant and can suggest productive, and safe, exercise that does not jiggle the implant, or put pressure on the site of incision.  Ever since I received my Interstim implant in August, I have been tentative as to how to proceed.  I have only done the low impact, aquasize classes. I am super excited to work with this trainer in an effort to learn more, burn more calories, and get back into the world of exercising with limited restrictions.

The Interstim Implant does not prevent you from exercising, however,  it is important to  proceed with the help of your Interstim provider as well as a knowledgeable trainer, so as not to disrupt the great gift that Interstim will give you.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

Tears and Tears

Tears and Tears.  Words that sound the same, but mean very different things.  Tears (torn) and Tears (crying).  For me, there is a huge correlation between these two homophones.

When you have a baby vaginally, there is a risk that you will tear.  Recently, I came across a website that shows diagrams of vaginal tears in childbirth.  This slide show is an essential viewing point for anyone who wishes to understand visually the physical trauma of a tear.  Feel free to view here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-tears/PR00143

Although vaginal tears are common during vaginal birth, the severity of the tear and the “how to” of the repair differ.  In her blog, Dr. Amy-The Skeptical OB, Dr. Amy Tuteur talks about the ability to midwives to repair tears during vaginal birth. You can read her take on tearing here http://skepticalob.blogspot.com/2012/02/vaginal-tears.html.

As a recipient of a third degree tear in a hospital setting, I am curious about the ability of my doctor to repair my tear during my forceps assisted vaginal birth.  According to the mayo clinic slide show, the repair for my tear should have been a bit more extensive and done with a little more care.  Maybe it should have even been done in an operating room rather than at the foot of my delivery bed.  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-tears/PR00143&slide=4

Tears often follow tearing.  For me, the physical pain of the initial tear as well as the physical and emotional consequences that follow such a trauma created lots of tears.  It is my hope that midwives and doctors understand the long-term ramifications of diagnosing and repairing a tear correctly.  My tear was not repaired correctly, nor was I given the postpartum support necessary for the tear I sustained.  Luckily, I managed, on my own, to get to a rectal surgeon, and ultimately, to Interstim, to treat the incontinence issues that began with my tear.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

My “Birth Position”

So, contrary to the name of this post, I’m not here to talk about the various positions in which you actually can GIVE birth, but I would like to talk about my position ON birth.

Even though MY personal experiences cause me to champion for an elective c-section birth in a hospital with lots of numbing drugs, I fully support others positions to have a non-medicated, home, vaginal birth-or something anywhere in between.

My birth position is that women should have the choice, prenatally, and during birth, to have their babies the way that they want to have their babies while preserving the mother’s health and the child’s health through a balance of the mother’s informed wishes and competent medical professional opinion.

My birth position is that women should have ALL of the information-risks/benefits on all aspects of birth prior to the actual birth of their child.  This information should be given freely and without judgement.  A mother’s birth plan should not be judged by the competent medical professional they are working with.

My birth position is that wherever the mother decides to give birth to her child, she is surrounded by competent professionals that both can support her position AND give her the medical information necessary if emergencies arise.

I recognize that birth trauma can arise from hospital births, home births, non-medicated births, medicated births,medically assisted births, and anything else that causes the mother to feel helpless and full of fear. (remember, it’s in the eye of the beholder.)  It is not up to me to tell another which birth would be less traumatizing, it’s only up to me to share MY story and help other mothers with birth trauma explore the options right for them.

So, there’s my position ON birth.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Story Toppers

About three times a week I attend a water aerobics class.  Because this class is during the day, I find the average age of the clientele in this class to be about 65.  (But, boy, these Grandmas can move!).  Because of the geriatric nature of my watery exercise regimen, I am often bombarded with the phrase “Oh, but you don’t have to worry about that, YET!” while engaged in a social discussion regarding “senior” medical matters prior to or post workout.

One of the favorite topics of discussion seems to be the colonoscopy.  Phrases and snippets addressed to me include: “So and so isn’t hear today, she’s preparing for her colonoscopy…you just wait till that…” “Ughh, I hate the prep work, you’re so lucky you’re young.”

Little do these ladies know, a colonoscopy is the least of my worries.  I think I could wow them all with the amount of enemas I have needed to do, the amount of “awake” rectal testing I’ve engaged in, and the fact that I lost my anal wink at age 27 due to the stress of childbirth.

But the story that tops them all, the story that makes a colonoscopy look like a trip to Disney World, is the defecography.  I never even knew a test like this existed.  To my great “delight” I had the necessary procedure when trying to determine the exact nature of my leaking sphincter. 

Step 1-Give yourself two enemas at home.

Step 2- Drink a glass of Barium (i.e. liquid sidewalk chalk) without promptly throwing it up

Step 3-Have a catheter placed to drain you of all urine

Step 4- Flip over, have a device that looks very similar to a caulk gun push a caulk like substance up your rectum

Step 5- Climb up a ladder onto a toilet bowl that is placed in the center of the room

Step 6-Try to relax while two people hold in place 2 x-ray plates around your body

Step 7-Poop out the substance (this is especially lovely with your audience)

Step 8- Enjoy the video recording of your bowel movement for years to come!

Top that, Grandma.  (Just kidding, I love Grandmas)  And, as unpleasant as this test was, it WAS necessary, helpful, and diagnostic.  It also gives me a story topper to whip out during my aqua aerobics class, but, maybe, I’ll just keep it to my blog.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

6 months

As of this past weekend, I have had my Interstim implant in for 6 months!  It is amazing how my life has been completely turned around for the last half a year.

The decision to have the implant was really a no-brainer.  I had exhausted the other “non-surgical” routes with little success.  The non-surgical routes of exercise, diet, and physical therapy are all components that serve to strengthen my Interstim now, but did little to appease the nerve function that I lacked prior to the implant.

Just for reference, the surgical route prior to Interstim was a scary prospect.  Before Interstim, my choice was to have my sphincter cut, then sewn back together tighter….repeat surgery every 5 years.  The prognosis of a successful surgery was limited, and there was a very real chance that more harm could be done.

With the sphincter cutting surgery as my only option, you can imagine my relief when my rectal surgeon recommended Interstim.  The surgery itself is low risk, and the prognosis of success is pretty high.  There was no hesitation for me to embark on this journey 6 months ago, and I cannot wait to see where it leads me!

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

Too Personal

I’ve been told by some people that they won’t read my blog because it is “too personal.”  Yes, vaginas, sexuality, rectal scarring, anal winks, pooping, mental illness, yes, it’s personal.  But sometimes, it is easy to confuse “too personal” with shameful, dirty, and stigmatized.

I write my blog to free myself of the stigma that surrounds my circumstances.  It’s not easy to be suffering with issues that no wants to talk about, read about, hear about, listen to, etc.  To date, there are many medical issues that have reached the acclaim in our society that make them easy to talk about, empathize with, and join together for a common cause.  However, I am sure that there were people that needed to champion those causes and efforts prior to them becoming easy to talk about over a cup of tea.

I believe that I am one of a growing number of women who are no longer going to be silent.  Medical interventions, successful therapies, and political awareness only come about when there is a movement to have our voices heard.  Birth Trauma and the physical and mental devastation it can leave in its wake is an issue that I am not ready to concede is “too personal.” 

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

The Crap He Puts Up With

This post is dedicated to my husband….and the crap he puts up with.  Figuratively….and Literally. 

While engaged in full-blown PTSD, my husband was always there, fully supportive of the shell of my former self that I had become.  Immediately after the birth of our child, but prior to any real diagnosis, my husband recognized that I needed help, support, and unconditional love.  And, he gave me all these things without question.  My husband did ALL of the housework, ALL of our life maintenance (bills, shopping, answering phone calls, making appointments, filling our cars with gas, driving, etc), and most of the childcare.  Yes, I fed our child, however, my husband changed her, brought her to me when she needed to be fed, helped me play with her, attended to her in the night when she was crying, etc.

A typical day for me during full-blown PTSD looked like this:  My husband waking two hours before me to work on the house, grocery shop, or do bills.  My husband waking me up gently (alarms were a trigger for me), my husband handing me the baby to be fed, my husband burping and changing the baby, my husband urging me to shower, my husband ironing and washing my clothes, my husband making my breakfast, my husband getting the baby ready for daycare, my husband handing me my ready-made lunch and placing my work stuff into the car (which he always made sure had gas), my husband driving my daughter to daycare (even though it was right across the street from where I worked-leaving her was a trigger) before he brought himself to work, me going to work in a haze, me leaving work, me picking up my daughter, coming home and feeding my daughter, me sitting in a comfortable chair with her until my husband came home from work, my husband making dinner, playing together as a family, my husband helping me with bedtime routine, me sitting in my chair, my husband cleaning up the house, both going to bed, my husband helping me through nightmares, twitches, and teeth grinding while simultaneously attending to the baby in the other room. REPEAT DAILY.

That’s a lot of figurative crap to put up with.  Not to mention the literal.  Fecal Incontinence is not pretty, and yes, there is a lot of literal crap.  Was I doing the laundry?  Was I emptying the trash filled with used incontinence pads?  Was I purchasing the pads, enemas, and fiber supplements? No, it was my husband.

Now, I would never claim my husband is a saint, but, I know he’s a better person than most to be able to navigate the trials of PTSD and fecal incontinence with grace and courage.   It is my hope that everyone could have someone just as wonderful to help them through their own trauma, however; the reality is some marriages cannot sustain the angst that sickness and trauma thrust upon the parties involved. Our marriage has survived and strengthened through this major medical trauma in my life, and I am truly grateful that my husband was able to remain by my side holding not only my hand, but my heart throughout the duration.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

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