Monday, March 10, 2008

Recto-celia - You're Breaking My Heart

Alternative Post Titles:
When I Found Out Kegels Didn't Work
Last Time I Checked I'm Only 26, Not 66

And The Bottom Drops Out

Rebuilding The Lady Parts

Just Sew Up The Joint And Call It A Day

Call it a rectocele. Call it pelvic organ prolapse. Whatever. I got it. If you want a clinical description, go to this link. For those who don't want to read about a freaky medical TMI thing, stop reading now.

A big part of me didn't want to ever talk about this issue. Face it. The topic is embarrassing and rather gross. But when I was first diagnosed, I went online to look up other people's personal stories about, and I found almost none. Lots of clinical sites, but no personal "This is how I dealt with it" stories. For one, the condition is common, but the severity of my prolapse is rare among my age group. For two, the topic is embarrassing and rather gross.

So I'll put my story out there so if someone like me searches for it later, they'll find a sympathetic ear and helpful and hopeful shoulder to lean on.

In January, I was reaching down with a baby wipe to give myself a little freshening up (considering I get to shower maybe every other day or so) while I was sitting down to do my business. I noticed a large bulge coming out of my yodel. It grew bigger when I would bear down.

To be honest, since having kids, I haven't really been all that interested in checking out the topography down there. Something to do with aversion to feeling scars from episiotomies, and frankly, any "relations" down there are rather uncomfortable and painful, and I'm a little bitter about that. So I've been giving my lady parts the silent treatment.

The "bulge" was freaky and weird. Over the next few weeks, I learned that if I wanted to easily have a bowel movement, I would have to push that bulge back in and hold it there. Gross, I know. This process, I learned, is called "manual evacuation," when you have to use your fingers as an internal splint to hold things in place and keep other things pointing in the right direction.

I kept it to myself. I think I mentioned something to Chris, but I didn't talk about it much. Most of the time, I forgot about it between "movements." In February, I mentioned my freak-accident-like oddity to my mother, and she made me call my doctor and make an appointment. "Might as well get it taken care of before it gets worse." Yeah, I guess.

So I saw my primary doctor the next day, she did a quick peek with a speculum, and then she promptly gave me a referral to see an OB for a rectocele consult. My appointment was a month away. From then on, I noticed my deformed lady bits more and more during regular activities, like walking, sitting, lifting things, etc. Nothing I could do about it. Didn't really hurt... it just felt like a tampon was falling out.

Oh joy.

My appointment with Dr. Bell was this morning. Nice man. He says that my muscle tone down there is very good, so that's not an issue. Weak muscle tone (Kegel exercises can help) is often at fault for pelvic organ prolapse. In my case, the fascia that holds everything where it's supposed to be has ripped apart and detached from its anchor points.

On April 2nd, he's going to slice me open, stitch everything back together, and then sew me back up. I'll be in the hospital overnight, and I'll have lifting restrictions for the post-op period. And my weight loss/fitness goals will be on hold, since I won't be able to exercise for eight weeks.

I'm less than pleased. I wish this whole thing wasn't happening at all. I'm glad that there's a solution, even if it's not guaranteed to last forever, but I just wish my body wouldn't have failed me in this way.

There are so many worse things that I could be going through. I don't have cancer. I'm obese, but pretty healthy. I'm not in any pain, and my body grows stronger each day. My children are precious and well, and my husband is loving and supportive. We own our own house, and we aren't missing mortgage payments. The car is paid for, and I have hobbies and interests that keep my brain active. I also have a wonderful community of friends who support me emotionally.

For that, I thank you. Now how about sitting down with me, munching on some spicy oatmeal cookies and sipping a big mug of coffee. Let's put our feet up and continue to count our blessings.