This post comes with a warning! Ladies, be prepared for some major leg-crossing and men please appreciate that you won the genetic lottery.
I am writing this from my lovely private hospital room. It’s a sad state of affairs when a trip to the hospital becomes the only way to get some rest. If I discount the pain, it’s been fabulous. Yesterday, I watched 8 episodes of Orange is the New Black in a row, pausing only to tick what I’d like on the following days’ menu and to check my Facebook. To what do I owe this pleasure? It’s courtesy of my kids and their enormous heads. My pelvic floor had become more of a mezzanine and my vagina’s back wall had collapsed. Sounds like a case for Dermot Bannon and the Room to Improve team. My 3 kids birthweight’s were 8lbs 11 oz, 9lb 6oz and 9lb 13oz, I have a small frame, I didn’t do kegels and the first birth included a delightful episiotomy. My first indication that something wasn’t right was a couple of weeks after the first when I got up off my extremely house-proud mother’s couch to notice a dark stain. My mother (slightly hysterical) told me I’d wet myself or more importantly her azure two seater! I couldn’t understand it as I’d felt nothing. It’s surprising how quickly incontinence becomes part of your life and you think nothing of changing pads or pants ten times a day. You avoid exercise and cross your legs if you sneeze/ cough or laugh. If you do mention it to your mother/ granny you’ll be told “the joys of motherhood”. I had my second child three years later and didn’t get much time to recover as he has a heart condition and we spent his first week in Crumlin hospital. When we got settled at home I was having a shower and felt something wasn’t right in my vaginal area. I had a look in a hand mirror when I got out of the shower and discovered a large fleshy bulge between my legs. I almost developed my own heart condition and convinced I was prolapsing or birthing that second lizard baby from V, I took off to the doctor who referred me straight back to the Rotunda. I was told there that it was a vaginal wall prolapse and physio would help. Panic over, I got on with looking after my boys but the incontinence had worsened. I could empty my bladder and turn on the tap to brush my teeth and a gush would soak me. I never felt clean and definitely not sexy. I certainly wasn’t dancing around the kitchen, waving a wooden spoon like the Always discreet ads and their “sensitive bladder” bullshit. I saw a physio who gave me gadgets to try and exercises but nothing was working and then I found out I was pregnant again! I was linked into the Rotunda’s physio after the last baby and she informed me that the muscles in my vag were bust and physio was a waste of time and I was put on the waiting list for a gynae. I was in no hurry as I knew I’d need an op and my kids were too small to leave so I stocked up on Tenas and carried spare knickers in my bag and avoided trampolines. I learnt the hard way not to wear blue jeans on a night out… stick to black!
A couple of years passed and I was called to the hospital to see the public gynae. She told me there was nothing she could do and I’d have to see a urinary-gynae and there was a two year waiting list. I explained to her that I felt like an 80 year old woman and by the time somebody got to fix me I would be 80 and therefore it wouldn’t matter that I smelt of pee and had a vagina like the Gap of Dunloe. I asked who was the best privately and was told Paul Byrne in Beaumont Private. I called his office and met him a couple of days later. He asked some questions, had a glance and gave me all the answers I needed. He said I needed a net sling put in to hold up my pelvic floor and some vaginal rejuvenation to repair the episiotomy damage to the back wall of my vagina. I skipped out of there until I discovered my health insurance wouldn’t cover it. Many tears later, I got a loan of €5000 from the bank and it was all booked for February the 9th, 2 days after my 39th birthday. Much hilarity ensued as the girls in my job made me “vag cakes” on my last day. This consisted of two cream cakes side by side.. a before and after. I got some interesting cards, definitely not Hallmark. I was shocked by how many young girls in work expressed jealousy that I was having a “designer vagina” whereas the older ones complained of urinary issues but were too nervous or embarrassed to have it fixed. The weirdest thing is I wasn’t even slightly nervous and that’s from someone who passes out every time she gives blood (I’m not allowed any more, cranky nurses). The logistics of having my kids looked after was the main issue… it required summit meetings, different coloured pens, calenders, shouting and some crying. I felt like the mother in that awful movie “who will take my children?”. Lots of people stepped up but I beat myself up that this was an elective surgery and maybe it should be put off longer. I rang my Mam bawling so many times. Can I state that I don’t recommend anyone calling my mother in a crisis, ever! She would outcry me and then put the fear of god in me about how painful it would be and did I have enough pads for ALL the blood? So, everything was organised and my husband dropped me to the Bon Secours at 7.30am. We had a few nervous giggles about my enormous downstairs situation and how fab it would be after. He admired my surgical stockings and backless gown, I’m slightly worried about a fetish!
I was wheeled off and gloriously drugged to the eyeballs. I came around in recovery to hear the nurses talking about Belvedere. I was gasping to talk and when I got their attention, asked them if Belvedere had an ASD unit? They had no idea what I was talking about. I got back to the room and remained in a love bubble, showering my husband with weird compliments while he laughed hysterically. I was starving from fasting and the nurses kindly brought me cocktail sticks with cotton wool balls to dip into water and ice and suck on. I imagine this is how Kate Moss lives. The drugs wore off that night and sweet jesus the pain was excruciating. I hate to press a hospital bell due to that crippling disease, Irish politeness, but I pressed and pressed. It felt like that moment before you push a baby, intense pressure mixed with an insane period pain. The next day they took out the catheter and the “pack” (felt like they pulled 10 king size sheets out of me) and that brought a lot of relief. I could pee on my own, vast amounts of it, into a measuring jug. There’s a strange satisfaction that comes with peeing half a litre. I got a Difene suppository that I could write sonnets about. So here I am, a repaired fanny and an operational pelvic floor. I’m to be released in two days so time will tell. I’ve to be stationary for 6 weeks so that’ll be a challenge. I will let you all know the results in the vaguest terms possible but fingers (not legs) crossed!
I wrote this 5 weeks ago and have had many gross complications and episodes since… I’ll leave it till my next post… a vaginal cliffhanger.