Category Archives: Panic

Repair, Recovery, and Rejuvenescence

From Merriam Webster, the meaning of rejuvenescence follows the theme of the renewal of youth, and vigor. 

The Good Stuff

I love using fifty-cent words as much as the next person (especially writers/bloggers) but the thing is, the title really fits with the theme here. Truly, each of these words evokes emotions associated to my current circumstances. In the same vein as my previous blog post 30 Pounds of Throbbing Pain this post is a sharing of some of my personal journey towards wellness, physically, mentally, emotionally. A couple of weeks ago I was rushed to the Emergency Room because I was experiencing intense abdominal pain. The sensation could only be described as the feeling that something had ripped loose inside my abdomen, to the point that I could scarcely breathe. Now, in my experience any trip to the ER is stressful, and this one was no exception. Within minutes of arriving, they had started an IV, given me strong pain medication and were performing a variety of tests including a vaginal ultrasound and pelvic exam. As a woman who has given birth to six children, I have had my fair share of pelvic exams. They’re never fun, but over the years (especially during my child-bearing years) it’s become a lot less difficult to manage the stress and emotions that come unbidden during such a personal experience. It wasn’t long before we discovered what was going on, and soon I was scheduled for an appointment with my gynecologist.

discussionSo, the exam. Honestly, this had to be one of the most thorough pelvic exams I have ever experienced. At one point, he handed me a mirror so I could see what he was explaining. It may seem somewhat unorthodox or uncomfortable, but I found it empowering. Perhaps as women we should be more familiar with our genitalia. We should see it, be as familiar with it as we are with our breasts or even our face. I was surprised the emotions that were evoked by having my doctor explain in excruciating  detail every aspect of my vagina and pelvic organs. So, all of that to get to this point, I am suffering from a prolapse of my pelvic organs. Specifically, I have the following:
  • Cystocele – A cystocele is formed when the bladder bulges or herniates into the vagina.
  • Rectocele – A rectocele occurs when the rectum bulges or herniates into the vagina.
  • Uterine prolapse – A uterine prolapse occurs when the uterus falls into the vagina.
Now, I will bet you’re wondering why I am blogging about such a personal experience. I find as a woman, that there are so many things that we DON’T talk about. It’s a fairly common, with nearly one-third of women experiencing prolapse or similar conditions sometime in their lifetime. However, it seems that this is a topic that is rarely discussed by women. It seems that once we’ve had “the talk” with our mother’s (or aunt or grandmother or best friend) about sex, that somehow we’re supposed to figure it all out ourselves. Why all the silence? What are we so afraid to talk about?
This is really why I am sharing this experience. Maybe I’ll be the one story someone reads or hears that tells them this is ‘normal’ and not shameful. That you don’t have to just live with the symptoms, but should feel comfortable (or at least not scared to death) to talk to your own doctor about it.  I am fairly young for the surgery, most women are over 60 before they experience symptoms requiring surgery. My own mother had a hysterectomy following my birth, so it’s not something that was even on my radar. And while multiple pregnancies and vaginal births were likely a cause, so was the sexual abuse that I suffered as a child.
I guess the part that I really feel is important to discuss is that I wasn’t really expecting the flood of emotion that I’ve been feeling. And like my foot/ankle surgeries, it seems that I am just now repairing damage done to me during the years of abuse. At 47, finally, I am having reconstructive surgery that will return my body to where it was pre-abuse.

 article-0-0C42CD2700000578-329_468x365Even with the 700+ words that precede this sentence, I cannot adequately describe the myriad of emotions that I am feeling. I wonder how the recovery process will affect me mentally, when it’s likely that I will be experiencing things so reminiscent of the original injuries.

On Monday, May 19th, I begin the next leg of the journey to wholeness, to recovery, to rebirth of sorts. I realize that this may be long or arduous, but also empowering. I hope that this post (and you) will remind me of this in the dark moments that are sure to come.


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Panic!! at the Dentist?

I have OCD. It stands to reason – I have survived what many therapists have described as nine years of ritual abuse. Sometimes I have anxiety attacks. Most of the time when they happen I can ride them out, waiting for the panic to subside and the irrational fear to ebb off a bit.

But sometimes….

The last time I had a major panic attack was at the kid’s dentist. It kind of stands to reason – what is more fear inducing than taking several small children to the dentist? I had Bean (5) and Jackers (6) with me, and we had already finished their cleanings etc.

My kids go to a large pediatric dental practice in downtown St. Paul. The staff is very professional, and frankly, I know that I could not survive a day in that place – with all the screaming children (even if it is for their own good).  My kids aren’t screamers (thank God for small favors) but they unfortunately both had a cavity.

I am certain that the dentists and hygienists don’t mean to make a parent feel bad – but somehow – that’s exactly what happens. The anxiety started building during the second child’s exam (Jackers) – because he was going to need to have a tooth pulled. He was born with an extra canine tooth (we called it his “shark tooth”) that was small and a bit weaker than the other teeth.

Now – when you have five small children – you spend a lot of time, an inordinate amount of time, helping them brush & floss etc. We do our best, but sometimes your best isn’t good enough.

This was the trigger. IMPERFECTION! “You aren’t good enough. You have failed, and it’s going to cost you!”The accusation, of “you aren’t really doing your best, are you?” had begun to buzz in my head, and my stomach began to knot.

I barely got out of the office before my chest tightened and I couldn’t breathe. We got into the elevator and down into the car before the full force of the panic hit – and I was able to hand my Kindle Fire! back to Jackers & Bean to keep them busy.

I told them not to be scared – as I completely broke down crying, unable to breathe, unable to talk – panic and anxiety washing over me with fear and guilt. Realizing that it was getting worse, I was able to dial JW’s cell. I don’t think I could even talk at that point, simply crying into the phone “help!”. It scared me to think the kids were scared – but Jackers was very calm and brave – and kept Bean busy playing some game while watching me in the rear view mirror. “It will be ok, mommy”, he said, completely as if he believed it.

Sometimes I think JW has a transporter beam – or is secretly a NASCAR driver – because I think he was there in under five minutes. His presence causing a strange mix of calm and additional tears. Somehow, JW is safe, he is that elusive “Home” that my heart and soul have craved – and it calmed me enough to be able to drive home with him following.

He stayed until the full force of the attack had gone, and checked to make sure the kids were fine (which they were). In fact, they seem completely unaware of how awful those minutes were.

I am trying not to avoid the kid’s dentist. I am nervous to go back, afraid a bit that it will recur. But I know it’s not the “place” – the physical in any account – but the “place” in my heart where imperfection and failure equal physical pain and shame that is the problem.  How or when will that heal?

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