I have a prolapse. In fact, I have several. I’m what’s known as a POP patient. I’ve been tested and checked and I know the extent. I know that all my insides are basically clamouring against each other to become outsides. I know which bits are ‘winning’ that battle. I know that I cannot pass a motion, or even wind, without some form of manipulation. I know that I have hemorrhoids and I get a full mucosal prolapse when I even attempt a number two. I know that just trying to irinate is like trying to wring out a wet rag whilst wearing boxing gloves. I know that I bulge and balloon and I stretch and strain. I know my episiotomy scar splits and I bleed. I know that I’m sore and I feel smelly. I know that when I menstruate it’s all caught up in a mess of bulges and gross. I know that I don’t feel like a woman anymore, or a person, and most definitely not a sexual being.
Of all my ailments this has probably knocked me down the most. It’s dragged at my confidence in the same way it constantly drags down on my abdomen. Each appointment has involved examinations and tests in my most intimate of areas. Many of those with a male doctor who made me feel guilty and selfish and like a bad mother because I am desperate for surgery to help me. All because he was afraid to perform it and wanted to put me off. I’ve been poked and prodded and made to spread my legs. I’ve had gel inserted inside me and been made to push it out with a gallery of technicians watching me. I’ve cried and wiped my tears then cried again.
Sex has become a taboo word in my relationship. How do you have sex when you are constantly uncomfortable? How do you feel remotely sexy when your own body disgusts you? I recoil and tense up if there’s the merest hint of an advance from my husband. To me that area is no longer sexual. It is not pleasure. That area brings pain and misery to my life. It brings degradation and embarrassment. That area is separate from me and all of me at the same time. I can honestly say I hate that part of my body.
Last month I saw another surgeon. My final hope. A woman. A woman who had kind eyes and an understanding air about her. Again the same questions were asked and the same examinations done. Again the tears flowed. But this appointment had a different outcome. Instead of a hard no, I was given a yes. A promise of surgery. But not just one. No, my life is never that simple. For me it will be several. Probably a lifetime of repeat fixes thanks to my genetic condition. But she understood my pain and could see that I cannot continue this way. Feeling less than nothing. Hating myself because of something I have no control over. Something I know I shouldn’t hate myself for. Walking out I was relieved, I was happy, I was excited. But over and above all that I was terrified.
I’ve never had major surgery before, I never really imagined I would have. Especially with the health issues I have. The words of the previous doctor rang in my ears. How recovery would be long and gruelling and I’m taking myself away from my kids. The surgery is looming closer and if I’m honest I’ve almost been talking myself out of it these last few weeks. Fear of going under the knife is almost stronger than the horror of living as this leaky, painful mess.
But not quite. Because every time I sit down and wince, I look to the surgery. Every time I feel the aching pull in my abdomen, I look to the surgery. Every time I can’t go to the toilet or pass wind, I look to the surgery. Every time I leak, I look to the surgery. And tonight, when I sat on the loo and somehow managed to urinate down the back of my ankle; instead of falling apart, I looked to the surgery.
Because I will have it. I will get through it and I will feel like me again. No matter how difficult the recovery. Because I’m a fighter and I can do this.
Talking about my prolapse can be both difficult and embarrassing. But from what I’ve learned there are many women out there living a life similar to mine. Though I cannot say I’m proud of having Pelvic Organ Prolapse, I’m determined not to be embarrassed or ashamed. This post was a hard one to write and share, but worth it. I hope to show women they are not alone and to help #breakthetaboo surrounding gynaecological issues.