When I go for months without updating this blog, I feel like I need to have something profound to say. Like I need to have a good progress report or amazing insight that will overshadow the fact that I really, really suck at being consistent.
This inconsistency is hurting me in my vaginismus/vulvodynia treatments, too. I was supposed to be doing daily Kegel exercises throughout my physical therapy sessions; the Kegels generally only happened a few days before the next appointment, much like how many people only floss their teeth the night before a dentist appointment. (In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m guilty of that too.) I also never finished using the Anusol, and probably never once managed to take it two days in a row, so who knows if that ever had an effect.
So what, then, can I say?
I can safely say that the Botox injections have helped the vaginismus enormously. I’ve had two injections now; the second was nearly identical to the first. They put me in monitored anesthesia for it, so I never had any pain from the procedure. The worst pain was from getting the IV put in. (And that was a real bitch, I might add; the nurse stuck in the needle in, fished around for a while, couldn’t find a vein, then had to pull it out and redo it. Yegh.) I was maybe a teeny bit sore for a couple days afterwards, but nothing that merited taking any pain meds. And I can tell the muscles are frozen now, which is absolutely fabulous. I still expect spasms from dilating sometimes, but they just… never get there. It’s marvellous. Sometimes I can almost forget that I even have a dilator in at all, if it’s a small one. That’s something to celebrate!
But my celebration over conquering vaginismus is overshadowed by the fact that I’ve still got vulvodynia, and nothing, so far, as been the miracle cure. Lidocaine helps for a few minutes, but the stinging always comes back. Injecting Botox into the hymenal ring had no effect.
Now, I’m using EMLA cream, a compound prescription made of 2.5% lidocaine and 2.5% prilocaine. My current relationship with EMLA is… complicated. A constantly shifting moodiness that oscillates between amazement and frustration. I’ll explain.
On the directions, it says to apply 30 minutes before dilating, and that the numbing effect will last for several hours. Sounds awesome, right? So I apply it 30 minutes before dilating, and for those 30 minutes, I feel peachy. Rather numb, but otherwise good. No stinging at all. Then I start dilating, and I get through a few minutes before, lo and behold, the stinging and burning comes galloping back. Fabulous.
So today, I use it differently. I apply it (a big fat glob of it, as much as I can possibly fit on the end of a Q-tip), and then start dilating immediately. There’s no stinging, and for the first thirty minutes, I am in heaven. My vagina has become as numb as a mouth full of Novocaine, and each dilator slides in with only a little bit of initial resistance. #5, #6, even that infuriating purple bastard #7, slid in, and the stinging and burning was just… GONE.
I was so excited, I started fantasizing. I imagined texting my closest friends and saying, “Hey, we’re going to Victoria’s Secret, NOW. SEXY SHOPPING SPREE FOR EVERYONE!” I imagined greeting my husband in this lovely navy-blue lingerie I own but have never worn, and dragging him into bed, whereupon we’d try every single position I’d heard of but never could do. Missionary! Cowgirl! Doggy style! Butterfly! Wheelbarrow! (Yes, Wheelbarrow is a real position, but no, I do not have the dexterity – sexterity? – to try it.)
About twenty minutes into it, I started feeling some irritation again. It felt like a bit of rug burn around 4:00-6:00. I figured it couldn’t hurt to apply a bit more; maybe I just hadn’t put on enough the first time.
No, the problem wasn’t the EMLA wearing off, because when I put on more, it just started stinging worse. It felt like I had torn something around 6:00… and when I dabbed a Q-tip around there, yep, it came away with a little smear of bright-red blood on it. Dammit. (How could I have even torn anything up there? I don’t have a hymen anymore, and dilating #7 is only about 1.25″ in diameter. It’s not like I was sticking a broomstick handle up there.)
And now, it’s about three hours since this little experiment, and guess what? My vulva STILL STINGS. It’s been stinging and burning ever since this incident, even after a shower. (In fact, the shower made it worse.) According to the package directions and its Wikipedia entry, EMLA has a numbing effect that lasts at least two hours… I am not convinced.
Maybe this is just me essentially going through “first sex,” as my body has never really had a dilator this size in it before, and the bleeding is similar to what women everywhere experience during their first couple sexual encounters. Does it sting afterward for them too? I don’t know, I never really thought to ask. I’m hoping that’s what it is… But the last time I mentioned bleeding a little from using the dilators to Specialist Doctor, it made him nervous, nervous enough to want to test for lichen planus. (By the way, he did a biopsy during the second injection, but I never got a call about the results. I’m presuming that means they found nothing. Again.)
In any case, I’m seeing Specialist Doctor for a follow-up tomorrow. (That would be why I was actually dilating today. ) Maybe he’ll have the clever insight and path of action that I currently lack. Or maybe he’ll just sigh and say something like, “We’ll just have to try some other options,” which in doctor-speak means “I have no fucking clue how to fix you, you’re truly broken and nothing I can do will ever make intercourse anywhere near comfortable for you, let alone fun or spontaneous. You might as tell divorce your husband now to save him from a life of lousy blowjobs and empty promises.”
Guess I’m not feeling too hopeful today. Maybe tomorrow will be better.