Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Kegel Dilemma: Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

For those of us who have chronically tight muscles, do kegels help or harm our condition? Common sense tells me that if you try and tighten an already restrictive area, it will cause more tension, but others stress that some that have tight pelvic muscles also have weak areas, in which kegels assist in strengthening the pelvic floor overall.

The pain that a lot of us with PFD have can be excruciating at times. It's like a rubber band is tied to your abdomen, hips and pelvis and it won't let go. It's still a mystery as to what causes this. Some professionals in various fields of study state sexual abuse or other traumatic stressful events can contribute because many hold onto the pain and tighten up as defense or safety mechanism, others say it's an abnormality at birth, physical trauma, and the list goes on and on. Whatever the reason(s) may be, I know that this condition is physically and mentally draining.

I have good days and bad days. We take for granted simple every day occurrences like having a normal bowel movement or just putting on pants! Until you are not able to do these things properly, it doesn't really enter your mind. I miss the days of being able to wear tights or even a bathing suit. I haven't gone swimming in years and I used to love being in the water. Anything too tight against me feels like a knife. Sometimes I catch myself staring a little too long at women who are wearing cute leggings. I'm not a creep, I swear, i'm just envious of your abilities to wear what I can't.

After going through a plethora of testing, my last MRI came back all clear and so my gastro doc said that I should try physiotherapy again because based on my symptoms, my muscles are probably not contracting properly and I need the "internal" work.  I am doing a number of other things, which I can discuss later in another blog.

I will say that finding someone who specializes in PFD here in Windsor, Ontario has been a struggle. I've scoured website after website and only found 2.  I'm at a loss that if this is such a common condition, why aren't there more therapists offering the service in the area? Probably because most of us don't want to talk about it. When you have back/knee/leg pain, everyone gets it, but intimate areas, you kind of shy away from discussing. I get it, but maybe if we did talk more about this, we can educate others and reduce the number of misdiagnoses.  I know when I look up London and the surrounding areas, and even as far as Toronto, i'm floored with the number of options available for both men and women!

I was told the Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation program includes the following:

"Treatments are both internal and external to completely evaluate the pelvic floor muscles as well as the surrounding joints ( pelvis, back and hip) and other muscles (gluts, IT band etc.). She also evaluates the abdominal muscles as this can lead to causing more pain and tightening of the pelvic floor muscles and transversus (abdominal muscles) if the smaller muscles are not firing properly." 

I am hopeful with physiotherapy they can help me and get my body to an optimal level. It will take time, I know this, but i'm curious for their full assessment. A silly goal, but one that I have hoped for is to be able to touch my toes without bending my knees.  Again, another thing that most people can do without hesitation, but for me, my body says "nope, sorry Mel, not going to happen." I try to challenge my mind, but it can be stubborn as a mule.

I am certainly learning more about my body than ever before, which is a good thing. The mind/body connection is strong. I know that movement is very important. Learning to live with limitations has been very difficult, as I used to be such a different person. I also want to gain weight because throughout this ordeal over the last while, my eating patterns have been complicated. There are so many "weight loss" programs but I never ever see anything for healthy weight gain for those who are petite like me.

Again, it seems like everyone has the answers for weight loss and we empathize, but the moment someone is approached asking how they can gain weight, you get the snickers and rolled eyes. We're cast aside because we don't have problems like those who are obese, we're not "real" women anyhow. Size 0's don't matter.  I don't go out my way to ostracize or belittle you, but you can do that to me?  I love how the shaming goes. I love the hypocrisy.

Such a disgraceful meme, but with a pretty awesome response:
From my experience, very few can suggest gradual weight gain that doesn't involve drinking enormous amounts of protein shakes and eating stacks of perogies and fattening high caloric foods. So you go from one extreme to the other, feeling just as miserable or even more so, adding on other health issues that go along with being overweight! Anyhow, I digress, but that is a topic which really aggravates me to no end.

With chronic conditions, we're very hypersensitive to a lot of sensations throughout our bodies. I can feel digestive distress far more than the average person and when I have spasms and no one else can feel them, it makes me wonder, is this all in my head? I try to shake that thought because no, it's not all in my head. Yes, stress exacerbates the symptoms, but my pain is damn real and it hurts.

I know that I wouldn't have gotten this far without the amazing support of my family, fiance and his mom, as well as the genuine friends who have stuck by me that I can now only count on my fingers. They are my guides and i'm grateful for them.

Cold Play - Fix You

So that's where we are on my health journey! I truly appreciate all the support. I will update again soon.

*Note: with pdf, you can have the opposite and experience very weak muscles, especially after child-birth. I am only discussing the condition as it applies to those who have chronic tightness

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