I think it’s fair to say that my pelvic injuries have well and truly entered a chronic phase. At first the word ‘Chronic’ scared me, but now I’ve adapted to my situation and have setup some strategies to cope and live my life as pain free as possible.
For all the new readers, my background involves a few pelvic injuries I sustained pre and post pregnancy that I have been living with for the past two years now (cry!).
My last pregnancy put massive strain on my SIJ (Sacral Iliac Joint) and the ligaments were not happy and flimsy as a result. This affected my hips and I tore the labrum (cartilage in the hip joint) on both sides which then caused a sports hernia from being misdiagnosed for so long, which then resulted in pelvic floor spasms or dysfunction (PFD), and pudendal neuralgia (PN). Happy days!
Over the last two years I’ve established a team of experts that have greatly helped me along my recovery and if it wasn’t for them I don’t know where I would be. My team consists of Pelvic Physios Angela James and Alison Hui from Sydney Pelvic Clinic, Dr Michael Fordham from Back2life Chiropractic and Health and Dr Jeni Saunders a Sports and Exercise Physician (SIJ Specialist).
At first I was really down in the dumps and felt really sorry for myself, however that somehow changed. I feel as though I have another purpose now and that is to bring more awareness to women’s pelvic issues. It’s not okay that it took several trips to 11 different health professional over 11 months to diagnose me. It’s not okay that I was told the pain was in my head and that I needed to see a psychologist or that the pain I was in was normal and what was expected from an endometriosis sufferer. These kinds of comments are just not on and I’m determined to change it!
Despite all of the ‘let downs’ and disappointments I never gave up, and finally found the answers and help I needed. But unfortunately I’m not alone, my story is not a unique one and other individuals are having to find the right help on their own too.
It can be a really lonely time being in pain and not having the answers, however there were a few things that helped me get through the dark times…
I occupied myself with little hobbies such as painting, crafty projects, fixing little things around the house, I enrolled myself into an interior design course (something I’ve always wanted to do). Anything to distract me from the pain i was in. I looked after myself, fixed my hair, cared about the foods that went into my mouth, went to bed early and spent time with the people I loved. I did things that made me happy and helped my body. I put me first and for now it’s working. Let me tell you it was a struggle to do all of the above.
One of the hardest things about having pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) is not being able to exercise the way I used to. A simple workout is not that simple for me anymore. I need to take my time with each movement, making sure i keep proper form. You see with my pelvic injuries my gluteal muscles do not switch on right away as that neural pathway has been affected and is still healing. I therefore end up switching on my pelvic floor instead or internal hip rotators and if you have PFD you know how horrible the symptoms are when those muscles tighten up. I then have to pace myself which means my exercise regime cannot be intense and achieving the results i want are not that easy to get.
I found that short circuit workouts of 10 to 15 min are the best and I try do these a couple of times a day. (Not easy when you have kids!). Lately I’ve been able to complete 45 min workouts at a moderate pace with little or no pain afterwards, something i never thought i could do again. Other days I have to stop mid workout because I feel the pelvic floor tighten up, my SIJ starts hurting and my hip flares, but that is okay, I simply stop, stretch and try again later on that day if I feel up to it or try again the next day and I’m usually fine.
The pacing myself doesn’t stop there. I need to plan my day. If my day is overloaded I risk having an episode. This means I’ve had to prioritise and cut down what I can do on a typical day and say “no” to others. If you are suffering from a chronic condition do not be afraid to put yourself first, after all if you aren’t right then your loved ones won’t be either. I want to be the fittest mum I can possibly be for my two little girls, and I always remind myself that the time I spend fixing my body and mind will only impact them positively. So put yourself first and ignore all the misguided comments.
Now lets talk about food. Glorious food! One of the reasons I got really depressed during this whole journey was the fact that I was putting on weight mainly because I wasn’t moving.
I started depriving myself and this made me even more depressed.
In these situations it’s important you seek help from an expert. Marika Day is the Dietitians/Nutritionists I have consulted and she has helped me immensely to keep my weight down and nourish my body with the right foods to promote optimal healing. She is such a pleasure to be around with a huge amount of knowledge. Also the fact that she is a Women’s Health and Gut Dietitian expert makes her the perfect professional to have on my healing journey.
Sleep/Rest. The most important tool for recovering the mind and body. I wasn’t getting quality sleep, mainly because I would grind my jaw all night long from an old TMJ issue. I knew if i wanted to achieve optimal rest to heal I needed to fix this so I’ve been working with my chiropractor and Dentist to fix this problem. I now sleep 7 hours straight without waking just by wearing a specialised jaw splint. Something I’ve never been able to do before and I don’t feel like I’ve been hit in the head by a bus when I wake. Your airway and Jaw can really affect your sleep quality so if you have sleep problems or have an injury/ condition be kind to your body and make sure you achieve optimal sleep.
WHAT I CAN DO AGAIN
For all the new patients of PFD and PN I’d like to also add a list of all the things I can do again since being diagnosed with pudendal neuralgia and pelvic floor dysfunction.
Go for long walks
Have fun with my kids
Sit through a movie
Go back to work as a nurse
Clean the house
Do the gardening
and this is a little personal but i know is the answer all those suffering from the above want to know… Yes I now enjoy sex again without the worry of pain during or after 🙂
Anyways that is it from me for now and remember there is help out there for Pelvic pain.
I’ve set up links in this blog post for those experiencing pelvic pain and require help from the right professionals. Simple click on their name and it will take you straight to their website.
Wishing you all a lovely day/night 🙂