A lot has happened in the past few weeks. I have made measurable progress both mentally, and medically. I made a second visit to the Mayo Clinic in January. I was able to see a variety of specialists and identify a number of causes of my abdominal pain, which of course means I can begin to formulate a treatment plan. All of this has given me fresh motivation to write about my progress, and pulled me out of a pretty major slump. I will detail below the different contributing factors to my pain, and detail some of what I have been doing to improve my depression.
The first specialist we saw on my second visit to Mayo was a gynecologist who specialized in pelvic pain. She did a thorough examination and asked a lot of great questions, all the while listening intently to my symptoms. She decided that based on my serious increase in pain during my menstrual cycle that the best course of action was to suppress my cycle as much as possible. I am now taking continuous birth control as well as a progesterone pill to suppress my cycle and hopefully lessen my pain.
The doctor and nurse practitioner (who was phenomenal by the way) also observed that a component of my pain was muscular. On further examination with a pelvic floor physical therapist, we were able to see that the muscles in my pelvic floor were so tight that they were shooting pain to my abdomen. This probably isn’t the main cause of my pain, but it certainly isn’t helping.
I discussed with the PT that I had pelvic floor physical therapy before back home and that it had worsened my pain. She said that this is often the case, and that they have a different approach than many physical therapists. At Mayo they have access to a network of pelvic floor specialists that are trained the RIGHT way, and she was able to set me up with someone here at home to help me work on this issue. Many of the exercises she showed me were yoga poses, which explains why my pain has lessened somewhat over the past month, as I have been doing yoga everyday since the start of the New Year (more on that later).
The last specialist we saw was a gastroenterologist. As I have mentioned on this blog before, I never felt that my pain was GI related. I simply didn’t have any GI symptoms other than abdominal pain. However, we decided to make an appointment once and for all to officially rule out GI, instead of bopping back and forth between them and OBGYN. My doctor was able to definitively say that he felt my pain was not GI related.
He did, however, agree with my pain specialist at home that a component of my pain was likely abdominal wall. He said at some point, likely during my laparoscopic hysteroscopy, a nerve became trapped in my abdominal wall, and that was contributing to my constant pain. My doctor explained that the only treatment for this is abdominal trigger point injections, which I had before to no avail. However, like I said, nerves are very small, and the likelihood of hitting the nerve on the first try is small. My doctor explained that it can often take 2-3 tries to hit the nerve and stop the pain. Due to this, I have scheduled another trigger point injection procedure with my pain management doctor at home. I hope we will have better luck and hit the spot this time.
A huge contributing factor to my lessened depression is a confidence in my doctors, my treatment plan, and a belief that I will get better. After bouncing around for so long between different specialists, having one cohesive treatment team that works together on the different factors contributing to my pain has been a godsend. I am SO glad that we went back to Mayo. After the first visit when we weren’t able to fit in all the doctors we wanted, I felt dejected. But we persevered, and the second visit was incredibly helpful.
Another major factor in my improved mood is my yoga. I have been practicing yoga everyday since January 1st, and I have seen a drastic improvement in my body, my mind, and my spirit. I have obviously seen the superficial changes like an increase in flexibility and more toned muscles. But so much more than that, I have begun to change the way I think. I have focused on positive self-talk, and accepting where I am each day without judgement. I owe so much to Adriene of Yoga with Adriene. Her 30 Days of Yoga series was life-changing for me, and I recommend it to absolutely anyone. I started with Day 1 and followed along on this amazing journey, and I am telling absolutely anyone I know about it- because it has really changed me for the better. If it sounds like I am obsessed with her, it is 100% because I am.
I struggle with soreness in most of my joints, and all over body aches, along with my migraines and abdominal pain. I also have pain and tightness in my lower back due to some spinal abnormalities I was born with. By doing yoga everyday, I am able to work out some of this soreness and nurture a positive relationship with my body that I had previously begun to resent. I have linked Adrienne’s channel in this post, but seriously, start with Day 1 ASAP- I mean it’s free! What do you have to lose?