Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Beginning

I don’t know where to start. I’ve never blogged before, I’ve never followed anyone’s blog, and I’ve never really used writing as an outlet for my emotions. Well, let me be honest, I don’t let out my emotions very often, period. But I need to tell my story. Tell it to the people I love, tell it to random strangers, tell it to anyone who will listen. I’m hoping that it will be therapeutic for me, but I won’t know until I try. The idea just came to me tonight. I’ve been keeping up with a blog written by another VVS sufferer. I found her blog on accident on a difficult night when I was up late trying desperately to find comfort in anything that I read. Trying to find any single piece of research that indicated that there was a way to overcome this. Trying to research the specialist at Drexel University that I was referred to. And there it was, right in the words of her blog. Comfort. Her strength and courage has inspired me to write this blog. So maybe this blog will do for someone else what her blog did for me. Or maybe it won’t. But there’s only one way to find out….

So here goes. I’m going to start from the very beginning. I was in a relationship that I never should have been in. I was in a relationship with someone that I was not in love with, simply for the sake of being in a relationship. He was a nice guy, but just not for me. And I was dreading the fact that I knew I was going to break his heart. But I needed out. I needed live. To party. To hook up with a stranger.

And that is precisely why I knew that I was going to meet someone in Miami. I confidently told my best friends that I was going to cheat on my boyfriend in Miami when we went in the summer of 2007. They were surprised because that is completely out of character for me.

And so I did. Well, technically I didn’t cheat on my boyfriend in Miami. But I met the hottest guy that I have ever seen. And he was into me. And here’s the bonus: he lived about a ½ hour away from where I lived!! This had to be fate. Who meets someone in Miami that lives so close to home? Anyway, fate or no fate, he was hot and I had to have him.

Now, before this point, I was a 24 year-old virgin. I was raised to believe that one shouldn’t have sex before marriage. I hadn’t met anyone that I fell for hard enough to break that. I had never had a serious relationship before my current boyfriend, and I wasn’t into my current boyfriend enough to compromise my virginity. I also loved that being a virgin differentiated me from everyone else and was “special” in some way.

One thing led to another with this gorgeous stranger, and I ended up having sex with him. And then I broke up with my boyfriend. Maybe I needed that push to leave. Maybe he came into my life to show me that there’s more out there. - that you could feel way, way, way more than I was feeling with my current boyfriend. So I left. And let me tell you, I was so relieved.

But, the relief didn’t last long. Needless to say, I began very quickly falling for this complete stranger. I had never been that intimate with anyone before. I had no idea just how intimate sex was. Well, I guess we can all predict the end here --- I very quickly ended up heartbroken for the first time in my life. After all, how could he possibly respect me knowing that I slept with him so quickly and cheated on my boyfriend? And, let’s face it, maybe he just wasn’t that into me. At the age of 24. I finally understood what my friends had been through. I finally understood what those scorn love songs were about. And it sucked.

But the story gets worse. After the first time we had sex, I had this awful, burning pain. I didn’t know what it was so, I went to the gyno. He said that I had bacterial vaginitis, and he gave me an antibiotic cream. Ok, simple enough I thought. No big deal, just your run of the mill vaginal infection and it had a cure. No biggie.

But then after I had sex with him a few more times, I think it was around November 2007, I started having the burning pain again. But this time, I ignored it. I don’t know what I was thinking. I graduated college with high honors. I work for one of the biggest accounting firms in the world. And yet, stupidly enough, I was too “busy” to go see a doctor. So I let it go on. And on. And on. And on.

Eventually, I went to see the same gyno. I can’t remember at what point that was, but I believe it was some point in late February or very early March 2008. I was so swollen, inflamed, and in so much pain that he could barely examine me. I remember gasping when he used a tool to examine me on the inside. What’s that thing called again, I always forget. Oh well, that thing. Well, it felt like a knife. I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t believe how much pain I was in. I remember trying to sit up so I could see what he was using on me that felt like a knife. And he asked me for how long I had these symptoms. So I told him a few months. He just looked at me. He didn’t say anything. So I sat back up and he said “Let’s discuss treatment”.

And that’s when I first heard the word “Vulvodynia”. I asked him to repeat it; I had never heard that word before. I remember thinking to myself that I should really try to remember how to pronounce this so I could tell my dad when I got home, since he is a doctor. Anyway, I assumed it was something to the effect of a yeast infection that has gotten so bad that it was called vulvodynia. So I figured the treatment would be the same.

All he said was that he was going to give me a cream for bacterial vaginosis that I would have to insert, and that it would be painful to insert but that I have to do it. After that he said he wanted me to vaginally insert boric acid pills for two-three months. My reaction was “Wow, two to three months?!” and he said “Yes”. I was thinking to myself, wow, that was stupid, usually they give you one pill for a yeast infections, I guess mine got so bad that that I need to be treated for so long.

He kept saying that we would “take it from there”. I remember thinking, well, by that point it’s going to get better right? And I remember trying to get a definitive answer from him. And I didn’t really get one.

So before he left, he gave me a pamphlet on vulvodynia and told me to read up on it. I remember starting to read it as soon as he left the room and before I went to check out with the receptionist. As soon as I started reading the pamphlet, I began to cry. I left the doctor’s office crying that day, and sometimes I feel like I’ve never stopped.

I will get into more details about vulvodynia, vulvar vestibulitis, and what happened to me next in the coming blogs. I would greatly appreciate it if anyone who is going through the same things that I am would reach out to me and share your experiences/thoughts. I believe in collective healing and that the only way to heal emotionally is through sharing our experiences and being acknowledged. It may very well be a long journey to the day we are acknowledged by the medical community, but I believe that the first step is for us to acknowledge and support each other.