Thursday, 19 October 2017

Pelvic Health Series: Our journey to regaining strength, alignment and function Jamie - part 2

If you haven’t checked out the first 2 articles in our Pelvic Health series, go do it now.  Click here and here, then come back and check out post 3.  Or, since you’re here, read this one and then go back and read the other ones.  

My heart was beating a mile a minute as I nervously waited for my appointment.  I thought the hardest part about this whole process was going to be making the initial appointment.  Turns out, it was even harder to get my butt to the there and through the door of the clinic.  But, here I was, sitting in the waiting room of Bounce Back Physical Therapy, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, looking for any kind of distraction to keep my mind off the looming exam.  

After what felt like forever, but in reality was a few minutes, Jillian Palmer, the physiotherapist, walked into the waiting room and I felt so much better to put a face to her name.  She sounded nice on the phone and via email but upon meeting her, her smile and calm demeanor put me at ease.  I walked into her private office in the clinic, sat down and the appointment began.  The initial portion of the exam was filled with questions.  Jillian wanted to know in depth about my prenatal, birth, and postnatal history, my daily water intake, voiding, and sleep habits, a thorough medical history, and if I had any concerns or questions for her.  After the history portion of the exam she checked the alignment of my body while standing and squatting.  From there Jillian had me lay down on the exam table to check my core.  

Next came the dreaded internal exam. Jillian left the room so I could change.  I got my bottom half undressed, climbed onto the table and waited patiently, totally exposed except for the sheet she gave me to cover up.  Thankfully this time it was an actual sheet and not those extremely uncomfortable and awkward paper ones you get at the doctor.  At this point my heart rate was through the roof.  I hate internal exams.  I mean, sitting there in an uncomfortable position, with your nether regions exposed, waiting for a stranger to come in and thoroughly examine your vagina, isn’t something I look forward to, especially this time, knowing I was experiencing symptoms that likely meant she was going to find something not quite right with me.  

Once again, as soon as Jillian entered I felt calmer and I could tell this exam was going to be different than the ones I had experienced in the past.  She assured me that I had nothing to worry about and even used the analogy that the exam of my vagina was just like her examining my knee.  Don’t get me wrong, I was still nervous but it was a little bit easier to calm down without my feet in metal stirrups and a paper sheet crunching with every shift of my body.  Jillian offered me a mirror to view the exam, and I’m not going to lie, I was not on board at first.  I didn’t want an already awkward situation to be worse.  I just wanted her to examine me and get this part over with.  That being said, as the exam went on and I started to relax, as much as one can in that type of situation, I became more and more intrigued.  I found the use of the mirror very helpful, educational and interesting.  She showed me what was happening as I engaged and relaxed my pelvic floor and what it looked like internally when I coughed and barred down.  I was able to see exactly what was going on with my body and seeing and learning first hand made me feel so empowered.  It was a whole new experience for me and it wasn’t nearly as awkward as I made it out in my head to be.  

Throughout the appointment Jillian was very honest with me about what she was finding, in terms of what I needed to work on to improve my body’s strength and function.  We discussed what she found and the strategies we were going to use to tackle each of the following areas.  
  • Diastasis Recti or abdominal separation
  • Grade 2 posterior vaginal wall prolapse
  • Excess tone (holding muscle contraction when at rest) throughout my body including in my pelvic floor and abdominal wall
  • Cesarean section scar tissue resulting in adhesion of abdominal layer

There it is, the list of the areas in my body that needed some love and attention ASAP. On the drive home after the appointment, I had a chance to think.  My brain was going a mile a minute.  I was feeling defeated and embarrassed.  How was I ever going to fix all of this?  How did I let my body get to this point?  Why didn’t I address these issues when I first felt them, instead of pushing them aside?  
Our bodies don’t lie and mine had been telling me that it wasn’t happy or functioning at its best and I just ignored it, until now.   Even that small discomfort and pressure I was feeling while doing jacks and my new outie belly button was my body’s way of saying that something was out of place.  
It’s remarkable really.  When you think about all the changes a woman’s body goes through to grow a human being.  The shifting of all of the organs and stretching of tissues to make room for a growing baby and expanding uterus is truly amazing.  But it’s also amazing to think that after all of that, your organs and tissues can go back to exactly where they started before pregnancy.  It shouldn’t be surprising to me then that things weren’t back in place 100% and my body was trying to tell me this.  
I got home and read through my list of homework, which mainly included stretches and mindfully relaxing, and after some reflection I was ready to tackle my new mission.  Operation stretch and relax was underway and I was excited to see the changes I could make.

It’s been a few months since my initial appointment and I’m excited to share with you the progress and setbacks I’ve experienced throughout this journey. Stay tuned to our next instalments to see how Kellie’s first appointment went, read about her magic moment, and learn how we are discovering our true strength through this humbling journey.

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