Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Beauty in the IC Breakdown: I Just Want to Strut

I am getting married on Saturday and I can't wait to feel absolutely beautiful. If a fancy gown and professional makeup job don't make me feel absolutely stunning, nothing will.

I have not given up my love for fashion because of IC by any means. I still do my nails, I still keep up with the latest trends, I still put on makeup when I go out to dinner with my friends or my fiance. But no matter how beautiful I look on the outside, sometimes my insides don't quite match. The pain changes you. 

Before IC I lived to flirt. Even when I was in relationships I would get a thrill from the cute gas station attendant who winked at me or the super sexy bartender who flashed his smile. Now when I am out some place many times it is about surviving. I sometimes rush through shopping trips I used to stroll through b/c of the pain. 

Before IC I had this rule that I never sat down in clubs. I was a nightclub promoter at one point and would be at a club from 9 pm until 2 am wearing heels and not sitting. I know that sounds insane, but at the time I liked it. Standing made me feel more outgoing and sexy. Now  I can't wait to find chairs when I am out socializing. For some reason standing in high shoes in one spot for too long puts a lot of pressure on my body and causes a lot of pain.

Truth be told there is no amount of makeup or Coach bags or expensive boots in the world that can make my pain any less when it strikes. I may look like a fashionable, social queen sitting at the table next to you in a sushi restaurant, but on the inside there is sometimes a part of me who wants to go home and put on my loose pajama pants to make the pain less. 

This Saturday, I just want to strut. I know the outside will look great: I have a dream dress, a hair style chosen and my makeup being done at a nice salon. But I want to feel as equally confident and glamorous on the inside and I will. It is my goal to have the wedding day experience of a bride, not a bride with IC, but just a bride. 

I have Sunday to struggle again. Saturday I will do my best to ignore my condition and just strut.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Important Muscles Your Doctor Never Told You About

Know your body. Your muscle spasms are real.
Starting around your pubic bone and ending near your rectum, every person has a group of muscles called the pelvic floor muscles. Both males and females have pelvic floors, but pelvic floor issues are more common in women. 

So what exactly do the pelvic floor muscles do? Think of your pelvic floor muscles as a hammock of sorts. The pelvic floor muscles hold many important things in place including the uterus and bladder. That is a pretty important job for a group of muscles many people have never heard of. 
If you have never experienced a pelvic floor issue, you likely go through life unaware of your pelvic floor and how much it is doing for your body on a daily basis. If you experience pelvic floor problems on the other hand you can have issues with urination, sitting, sex, walking and almost anything else you can think of involving that region of the body.

Pelvic floor dysfunction (or PFD as the IC community likes to call it) occurs when the pelvic floor muscles spasm involuntarily. PFD is a medical condition all on its own, but many IC people have PFD and vice versa as the pelvic floor and bladder need to work together, especially in women.

Imagine how badly it hurts when any other muscle in your body has been injured. Now picture that pain effecting your vagina, rectum or bladder. OUCH, is probably the first thing that comes to mind. PFD is still rather mysterious in its origins just the way IC and vulvodynia are, but many people with IC are believed to have PFD because of the constant bladder inflammation and frequent urination. Inflammation can greatly impact the pelvic floor muscles and patients can lose control of being able to relax them leading to chronic muscle and nerve pain. 
It is really important for women of all sorts, even those without IC, to realize that their bodies have a pelvic floor. Pelvic floor issues can effect anyone. The rare times the pelvic floor is discussed in the main stream media, it comes up in conversations about urinary leakage or sex improvement and the answer given at the time seems to be to do a kegel exercise. For patients with a true pelvic floor dysfunction, the answer is not this simple.

While there is no current cure for PFD treatments are available including physical therapy, vaginal valium, trigger point injections and more. 

The lesson here is to know your body and know that you have muscles keeping everything together down below. If you feel like something is wrong with your body, go with your gut feeling and find a doctor who is educated. 
And while you are here, don't forget that it is IC awareness month. Spread the word, knowledge is power.

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