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Dilating Diaries: 31st January 2021

Hello from the deepest darkest most miserable January there ever was. I hope you are doing ok, wherever you are!

I went a bit AWOL the last couple of weeks. I missed three whole posts and I am deeply sorry. But I'm back. I think. For now.

I am finding this third flavour of UK lockdown particularly difficult. I am absolutely 100% behind it, we definitely need it, the situation is absolutely horrific with Covid but I am also struggling to do anything but be horizontal when I'm not working. I have been kicking myself about not achieving anything, in any part of my life, in the past few weeks but this week I decided that A) it wasn't helpful and B) actually a lot of what I'm doing is procrastinating because of fear/laziness.

Four glimmers of hope for anyone else in the northern hemisphere struggling with the January gloom:

  • The days are finally getting longer

  • Spring bulbs are starting to sprout

  • Trump is no longer US President

  • It's snowing here today

Dilating Progress

Things are ticking along very slowly. Shark week put a stop to things for a number of days earlier in the month and lockdown has been doing its very best to sap my energy and spirit. But things are continuing. No major breakthroughs, just slowly continuing.

I have had higher pain scores this month than I have had for a while. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised at that given the context of the world being in chaos and my mood being significantly lower than usual, and all that feeding back into amplifying pain levels. It is frustrating though. It is not where I want to be, but it is where I am.

Talking to people about my vaginismus


I've made big progress in this area in the past couple of years but it's something that still makes my heart leap into my mouth when mentioned.

I joined the Pelvic Pain Matters webinar "The Pelvis Uncensored" this week. It was all about the importance of being able to communicate about your pain condition. I joined because I'm still quite bad at it. I'm getting better though, there was a time where I would just blurt "sex hurts" at my doctor, then sit in the chair sobbing and being all snotty.

For anyone who is nervous about speaking to their doctor for the first or even the fiftieth time, or communicating to a friend or partner, it's a really great listen. I'm not sure if you can listen back if you didn't have a ticket but here are a few key points that resonated with me:

  • Your pain is meaningful to you. You need to find a way to be able to communicate that meaning with the people that you are trying to get help from. So that isn't just the physical symptoms of painful sex, it's the wider impact on your life, your relationships, your mood. What do you want to be able to do, that you can't do. What is it holding you back from feeling or doing or achieving.

  • Professionals, whether that's a GP, a Nurse, a Physiotherapist or a Consultant, have a responsibility to create a safe space, to listen to you, to really hear you, and recognise that if they are unable to help you, they need to refer you to someone that can.

  • When you've lived with a condition for a really long time, you might have forgotten how not-normal it is, and how much it impacts on your wider life.

  • And finally - SEX SHOULD NEVER HURT.

On the topic of health professionals, I'd just like to briefly share some GOOD experiences I had over the years:

  • A female Nurse doing my smear test that did not bat an eyelid when I explained my condition, and who immediately set about making me more comfortable, gently testing the severity of my condition and recommending me to a specialist clinic

  • A female GP who was newly qualified who had no idea how to help me but who tried her best and who went out of her way to discuss my issue with other colleagues to find someone who could help.

  • A female physiotherapist (is there a pattern here?) who believed every word I said about my condition and tried her best to find different therapies to treat me with.

  • Finally two psychologists and a medical doctor (male & female) at the clinic where I finally got my diagnosis. They just sat there and listened to me, validated everything I said, answered all of my questions and made a treatment plan for me.

And that's really the point here. I've seen a ridiculous numbers of Doctors, Consultants, Nurses and Physiotherapists over the years. Some of them could help, some of them couldn't. The ones that really helped me, at least on an emotional level, were the ones that just accepted what I had to say. It's really as simple as that.

On another note, my email pen pal seems to have vanished (no reflection on the quality of my friendship, I promise) so I'm back in the market. If you're interested, get in touch!

Looking ahead to next week

Honestly I'll be glad if I can just make it through the week so I'm not piling pressure on. Continue dilating as/when I feel that I can. That's it!

See you in February ;)


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