Friday, February 27, 2009

Farewell, Felicity

Over the last year, I've been making my way through all four seasons of Felicity. It might sound silly, but when I was still able to do physical therapy, I'd put in a Felicity DVD and use my dilators. It would help pass the time and also help me not dread the homework.

Yesterday, I watched the last episode and felt strangely sad about it. I think in the back of my head, I had hoped I'd be done with my PT by the time that I said good-bye to Felicity. Alas... that wasn't the case, so I'll have to come up with a new show to help me get through my PT once the time comes again. Let me know if you have a recommendation!

Felicity, you were good to me. Too bad you had to ruin what was a good show by time traveling.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thinking happy thoughts.

I often feel that I spend too much time wallowing in stress and self pity. That's why it was a surprise when my therapist suggested I let myself feel upset more often. "You really need to let yourself feel upset about this." Don't I do that enough? And it's not helping. I think he thinks I spend too much time trying to put a positive spin on things, but, really, giving in to those negative feelings and thoughts has gotten me nowhere.

Last night in our mind/body class, we had a guest speaker who talked about the power of positive thinking. I usually don't buy into touchy feely stuff, but here was a woman who suffered from lichen sclerosis, chronic neck and back pain that left her bed-ridden for years, and who hinted at being the victim of abusive relationships, and she was smiling and upbeat and hopeful. She helped me to shift my perspective and to know that if I become more positive in my thoughts, I might actually feel better.

I have a lot of other tension in my life right now, things that are taking priority over the vulvar pain stuff, so it was really helpful to have someone say that attitude is everything because I had just been living in one big bubble of sadness. I could play the victim, but, really, how boring is that? Everyone has problems. It's how you deal with them that's the important distinction.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Finding support online.

I was thinking last night how lucky I am to live during a time where I can find support and resources online. And -- with the help of one list serv or website -- know that there are others like me who are struggling and searching, but finding ways to be happy even in the midst of all this sadness.

In the last couple of weeks, I joined a vulvodynia support group online and have found it extremely valuable (if you search on Yahoo Groups, you can find it and apply for admission) . I belonged to a vaginismus online support group before (and still am), but I also needed some support for just dealing with this chronic pain that prevents me from even thinking about dilating. I've posted a couple of times and within days (sometimes hours), I get responses back from other women who know what it's like, who offer up their support and advice. So I'm thankful for that.

I also joined the National Vulvodynia Association and will hopefully be volunteering for them at some point. I'm the type where if I'm DOING something, anything, it helps.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Support Vulvodynia Research

Last night I bought a CD that anyone suffering from vulvar pain should know about: Vulvodynia: Guided Meditation to support women with Vulvodynia. It's similar to other relaxation CDs, in that it brings awareness to your body and has you relax through voice-guided meditation and soothing music. But it's very different in that it is specifically designed for women who suffer from vulvodynia. And what's especially cool about this is that Carmen Pepicelli, in producing the CD, talked to gynecologists, psychologists, physical therapists, acupuncturists, and the women themselves who have vulvar pain. So it really feels authentic.

Right now, I'm having a hard time getting past my emotional response to the audio -- when you're asked to imagine the friends and family who support you, who look at you with "understanding eyes," I can't help but cry. My boyfriend, especially, has been really supportive and sympathetic and I'm lucky to have friends who cry with me those times when I let myself stop trying to be so positive and just let myself feel sad.

All of the money raised through sales of the CD goes toward vulvodynia research, so if you know of anyone who could benefit from it, please help spread the word!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A wordling I'll go...

I put my blog into Wordle and this lovely word cloud is what I got. I'm pretty sure I need to stop using the word, "just." And apparently I feel a lot.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Drugs aren't necessarily the answer.

Yesterday my therapist encouraged me to consider taking anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication to help me to deal with all this stuff. He's suggested it before and I've resisted. It's not that I'm opposed to these kinds of medications -- most people I know are on one or the other and I've seen genuine results. It's just not for me, not right away. I don't really understand the push for drugs as a tool, especially when I'm actively exploring other options. I need to give these other things - like breathing exercises - a chance first.

Just because I cry during our sessions doesn't mean I'm "depressed" and just because I experience anxiety when I apply the topical medication doesn't mean I'm "anxious." I have had bouts with anxiety here and there, so I definitely know what that feels like. And this isn't that.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I miss the homework.

I'm feeling more optimistic today. Tomorrow is my first "mind and body" class, which will help me deal with all of my anxiety and also connect me with other women who are experiencing similar issues. And what's really great is that it is being taught by the nurses at the medical center where I go to see the specialist. I feel some relief that they can provide me with some guidance about how to apply these steroids. I feel like I'm just screwing things up down there.

What's ironic about all of this is that I used to complain about having to do my dilator homework. I dreaded it and thought it was a disruption. Now I can't even do the homework because I'm in too much pain. I never thought that I would long for the days when I was doing physical therapy, but here I am. I miss feeling successful, making tangible progress, and having the support of my physical therapist (who still calls me even though I haven't been there in months). Today I made several appointments with her starting in June, so that's my goal for getting back on track. I know I can do it!