The Vestibulitis Diary – Part 19: Finale

One Year After Surgery

Vestibulitis Diaries part 19 -Finale

I hadn’t written about the pain for a long time. Like a sad memory, I tried to repress it, tuck it away in the back corner of my mind.

People sometimes ask if the surgery killed the pain, and whether or not I would suggest surgery to others. The surgery was both easier and harder than I had thought. It was easier because my Dr. did a modified vestibulectomy which took out just the tissue, rather than a huge section of my vagina. The actual pain from the surgery was less than I had expected.

The experience was harder than I had thought because the recovery took so long. For a while there it was two steps forward and one step back. The tissue would feel better, but the stress would cause a skin outbreak. Or, I could attempt sex, but I would get a huge blood blister along the incision line. And the scar was very slow to heal.

I would still have the surgery if I had the choice again. I really had no choice; through two years of treatment, nothing had made the pain go away. I was locked in a nervous system cycle of pain. The tissue radiated pain every day, the surgery made it so that I would feel pain only occasionally. What remained was not pain as such, but sensitivity, a kind of snap, crackle, and pop of nerves.

As for healing… Healing is a twisted, circuitous path. A labyrinth one walks that brings you back to the beginning before it takes you to the end. The physical therapy I abandoned for the surgery turned out to be the thing that would help me work with my scar.

Mentally, I had to reach back, deep into the lessons of my life to find a path away from the pain and sadness. I recalled working as a caregiver many years ago. I helped disabled people take care of their most basic needs. I worked with people who had nearly broken bodies. One had multiple herniated discs, the other had extensive nerve damage from Lyme disease. Both of these people had the most solid, thoughtful outlooks on life. Every day was a present, every breath was precious. I had never really understood how cheerful they could be in the presence of such unrelenting pain. I never understood until I went through pain myself.

What I learned was that I am not my body. It seems simple, but people don’t really get it until they can not rely on their body. Health is a constant flux but I am not. Before I went through this, I pushed my body until it hurt, now my body pushes back. I learned (the hard way) take care of my body, soul, and mind as if they were the most precious cargo.

I spent a month traveling recently and had some revelations on the road. I found a faith healer in the center camp of the Burning Man festival who treated my pain. He felt my chakras and found the blocks in my head, my heart and my yoni. I told him of the past three years. He talked about karma and punishment. He told me that no punishment was meant to last forever. Essentially, I had learned what I needed to learn. He gave me permission to forgive my body, and move on.

From that day, I had felt lighter, less burdened. I stopped looking at the world as something I couldn’t participate in. I stopped looking at myself as the only person with non-functioning parts. When you are young you feel like you can do anything without minding your own needs, you think that you should be a perfect lover who should be able to bend into any position. Growing up, you think about what you want and how to take care of yourself. You stop hurting yourself with unfair expectations and you ask to be loved as you are, scars and all.

People ask if the pain is gone. At the moment it isn’t completely, I need tender care and a lot of warm up. I can deal with that. I will never be the same, but I am thankful for the lesson in self care. I started recently on a medicine to deal with a small amount of background pain, which was the last thing I wanted to take care of. Since then, I have been feeling relatively normal, walking around, not even thinking about pain. I don’t feel completely cured as if I had my old body back. I know I have more healing to go through, but I feel like I can see the end of the journey. But I feel free now, free to live my life and deal with my body, not a slave to pain, not a victim of sensation. That, my friends, is the arc of my story.

This is the story of Arashi, visual artist, writer and sex-positive vestibulitis patient and her surgical choice to heal her condition.

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