Eight weeks and a day since my surgery for pelvic organ prolapse (hysterectomy and sacrocolpopexy). The recovery was harder and slower than I expected, but I’m doing much better now. I seldom have any pain. As of this week, I am back to work full time (part-time these past three weeks). I get tired faster than usual, but essentially I’m fine.
There are a couple of caveats to that. I have to use an estrogen cream in my vagina twice a week for a year. It really hurts to touch it. Everything inside feels hard and tight and sore. the back wall of my vagina (god, whoever thought I would be writing about this part of my anatomy?!?) feels like it’s made of tight ropes, with no flexibility. I honestly cannot imagine how I am supposed to ever have intercourse. It just seems like it will hurt so much. Sometimes I’ve thought maybe the surgeon sewed everything too tight.
I said something about how tight and tender it was to my husband and to E. Both of them said something to the effect of “like a virgin again.” They are both usually a great support, but in this case, they didn’t get it at all. I didn’t find that remark at all amusing. First of all, if we are going to get technical, I don’t really know when I was a virgin. So it’s an emotionally confusing topic for me. Secondly, it HURTS to touch it, so it’s a physically distressing topic. It doesn’t seem like it can ever be a source of pleasure. That worries me. Maybe, I hope, it just takes a long time, like everything else in this recovery has taken a long time. Maybe.
So today was my eight week check-up with the surgeon. The speculum hurts, but I breathe through it.
“Everything is fine,” she tells me.
Okay, good. It’s not that anything has gone wrong with the surgery. I ask her about the tightness and soreness. She pokes a little more.
“It is tight,” she agrees. “But it’s not from the stitches. It’s not in the place I cut and sewed, but in the muscles below. It’s essentially muscle tension. Sometimes women get that after surgery. To protect yourself from the pain afterwards, and that sense of jarring, you can tense up too much. You’ll need to relax the muscles.”
“How…?” I start to ask.
“You can do physical therapy. That’s what I recommend. It can make a big difference.”
I’m imagining instruction in doing Kegel exercise. But I already know that. “What happens in physical therapy?”
“Well, similar to physical therapy for other overly tight muscles, there are trigger points, and the therapist pushes on them.”
“Trigger points… where?”
“Inside the vagina,” she tells me.
I just look at her. I can’t believe this.
“You should go,” she urges me. “It can help a lot. It’s really a quality of life issue.”
“How many visits does it take?” I ask her.
“It varies a lot,” she tells me. “Anywhere from three to nine weeks.” Three to nine weeks. Yuck.
I take the referral from her. I’m just imagining it, going to the physical therapy clinic (I’ve been there before, for my feet). I will lie down and some stranger will put her (better be a her) fingers inside me and press where it hurts. This is way too much like what happened to a very young me, except it wasn’t a stranger.
Shit, I thought I was done with all the intrusive stuff.
I texted a little bit with E about this. After I said though that it was too much like my early childhood experience, she never answered. I am trying so hard not to react to her silence. She’s still jet lagged from her trip to Japan. Perhaps she fell asleep. Maybe she has company over tonight. Of course the “she doesn’t get it” or “she doesn’t care” thoughts try to sneak in. I observe them, non-judgmentally, and let them float away again without following them. My mindfulness practice is helping.
But still, I need someone to say, that totally sucks! I wanted her to say that, and maybe she will later. In the meantime, I guess I am writing here in the hope that some of you can hear me and get it.
I know I will cope somehow. Tonight though is not the time to plan how I will cope. It’s just a time when I need a little comforting, because my tale of pelvic peril isn’t over yet.