Sarah was so generous and kind to share her reflection on her experience in pelvic floor physical therapy. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing with the world in such a thoughtful and well-written reflection. Your words will help so many others! Read on:
Learning I had pelvic floor dysfunction changed my life. Though people are always surprised when I say it was for the better.
For me, it was such a relief that there was finally a name for the constellation of incredibly painful symptoms in incredibly intimate places that had destroyed countless nights of sleep, school/work days, plans for fun days/nights out, vacations, relationships, etc, on and off since I was a teenager (~30 years now).
It was a relief to learn that it wasn’t “all in my head” – that I wasn’t just “hypersensitive to pain,” “drug-seeking,” “experiencing typical (or atypical) symptoms of menstruation,” “needed to go on birth control,” “needed to go off birth control,” or that “it was something I was just going to have to live with.” Those are all explanations given to me by various medical professionals over the years! What that all amounted to was an immensely isolating situation of wildly uncontrolled pain, guilt, shame, and, sadly, hopelessness.
But once it had a name, there was hope. Because it turns out that other people have experienced this too, enough so that an entire field of scientific study and therapeutic practice now exists that is devoted to understanding and teaching us how to live comfortably with this condition!
This is where my story crosses with Katherine Koch, PT, DPT. Katherine recognized I had pelvic floor dysfunction before I ever did. I (clearly) didn’t know it was a thing. I was at a low point, absolutely struggling with symptoms, my daily functioning entirely disrupted. She subtly suggested a consultation, and that single appointment changed everything:
There was now a name for what I was experiencing (and I wasn’t alone!)
There were a number of NON-DRUG TREATMENTS available to help with the pain (and everything else) I was experiencing
I had a much-needed anatomy lesson of my pelvic floor – something women and men are NEVER TAUGHT in school (and I have a PhD) – and immediately understood the musculature responsible for my painful spasms underlying this condition
I learned that I could learn, through physical therapy concepts/manipulation and conditioning exercises, how to re-train the connection between my brain and those muscles, to help relax them when they decided to spasm
I learned that I would have an expert pelvic floor physical therapist, but also advocate, cheerleader, teacher, mentor, and friend, right there by my side, throughout my entire therapeutic journey, and beyond...
After ~3 months of weekly appointments (most weeks), we jointly decided I was able to handle my condition on my own! I had learned the necessary tools – NO DRUGS. She had taught me quickly, and well. I use the tools I learned from Katherine just about every day. They are excellent for the pelvic floor and are good for overall well-being too.
Our condition is chronic and to my knowledge, at least at this moment in time, there is no cure – but the tools Katherine taught me have given me my life back. I will always be grateful to her for her expertise, but even more so, for the kindness, understanding, humor (!), empathy and support she offered during our work together, and even now, after. I think she’ll always be a part of my life, though I think I’ve got the pelvic floor under control now :)
-- Sarah S., Denver, CO