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putting it to the test

The views are spectacular throughout Montana's Crazy Mountains, like this one of Campfire Lake. Photo by erikpetersenphotography.com.

Last week Shawn and I went on our annual Big Hairy Run with our friend (and my co-worker), Erik. I went through my usual anxiousness the week before our adventure, letting Erik know that it would be just fine to un-invite me since I’m so much slower than him and Shawn, and quizzing him on the difficulty of this death march he’d cooked up, until he looked me in the eye, in the way that means: Enough. “You’re coming,” he said.

Okee dokee, then.

Erik is a smart guy. Which is why he was intentionally vague about the fact that our Big Hairy Run in the nearby Crazy Mountains was a 23-mile journey that would take us up not one, but TWO 10,000 foot peaks. He finally let me know what I’d signed up for when we were already 5 miles into what turned out to be over seven hours of running — or “staying in motion” as I call it.

In any case, because I like to chat to make the time go, at one point during our run I announced that I was wearing my new pessary ring, and that it was pretty great not to soak my shorts on these long runs anymore.

Erik muttered something like, “That’s nice, I’m happy for you,” which was rather pained, weary, guy-speak for Could we please not talk about anything that has to do with your vagina?


Good thing I have a blog, where I can tell you things that some of my “friends” won’t converse about.

In case you’re wondering what a pessary ring is, some of them look like a pacifier, or a baby toy, or maybe even a doggie chew toy (although they should absolutely never be substituted for one — even in a pinch).

Pessaries are a non-surgical option for women who piddle due to “stress urinary incontinence,” or accidentally peeing when coughing, sneezing, or barreling downstairs to stop one of their sons from bludgeoning the other.

For instance.

According to my handy-dandy pessary handout, “A pessary provides support for certain pelvic organs that have prolapsed by repositioning these organs to their original position. Pessaries are designed to stabilize the urethra in stress urinary incontinence caused by your ridiculously big-headed sons that you courageously birthed without complaint.”

(OK, I added that last bit about my sons.)

I actually learned about pessaries via this blog. (Thank you blog!) “Trying to be a Healthy Nurse” is a reader who occasionally comments here, is a certified Continence Care nurse, writes a health column for one of the print publications I work for, and read my blog post about the embarrassment of completely soaking my shorts during a trail race last spring.

“You need to come see me!” she said. “A pessary ring might help you.”

So I did. And this is where this post turns into a love letter of sorts.

I have dealt with many medical professionals over the years, and have had my share of good and bad experiences in doctor’s offices and emergency rooms. The bad experiences were enough to make me thankful when I meet someone not only medically competent, but with a sense of humor and a compassionate bedside manner as well.

Healthy Nurse (like my mom and brother who are also nurses) is on my list of people whom I’m grateful have chosen to take care of people for a living. There’s something vulnerable about having someone stick their hand up your vagina. Healthy Nurse not only made this seem comfortable, but matter-of-fact.

A pessary is no harder to insert or remove than a tampon, but when Healthy Nurse began sizing me, laying out the various sized pessary rings to try, I found myself crossing my fingers thinking, “Please don’t let me have a Huge Vagina.”

Turns out I don’t have a biggie-sized vagina, I'm just average, which means I don’t have to wrestle anything near the circumference of a hula hoop up my hoo.


Once we had the right size pessary inserted (which I keep thinking of as a “pissary”), Healthy Nurse asked me what sort of exercises make me leak. “Jumping jacks? Frog leaps during Body Attack class at the gym?” I suggested.

“OK, come on then,” Healthy Nurse said, “I’ll do them with you!”

So there we were, Healthy Nurse and me, doing high-impact calisthenics in her examining room, and I thought, “Is there a line-item charge for doing jumping jacks with patients?”

Of course not.

Crazy, generous lady, that Healthy Nurse.

Healthy Nurse? Please stop reading right now.

When we got done with our 23-mile run late in a day that started with a 5:45 a.m. alarm clock wake-up, Shawn, Erik and I hobbled into the Clyde Park Tavern. And although I have vegetarian leanings and a pretty healthy diet, I ordered a pulled pork sandwich with curly fries without remorse…which ranks among one of the tastiest meals I’ve ever eaten.

I was dry, without sticky, smelly, pee-pee pants, and hanging out with two awesome guys eating curly fries.

Does life get any better?

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    Megan Regnerus - minor catastrophes - putting it to the test

Reader Comments (12)

Ummm...I could have totally skipped this post.

Can we go back to raspberry pie now?

August 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrotherJohn

I'd write, but I'm laughing too hard! You're awesome, Megan!!

August 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBliss Chick

Thanks for the heads up that you posted this today! I am rolling on the floor laughing AND SO HAPPY THAT IT'S WORKING FOR YOU!!!!!! YES, THAT IS WHY I AM A CONTINENCE NURSE!!!! People often wonder and think it a bit strange, that is unless they have ever had a continence issue.... then they are very glad I do what I do. And so am I!!!!! It's the success stories we live for! :) We are all about QUALITY of life, and not peeing your pants is one of those quality of life issues only certain people understand. Keep running gal! All the best!

Did ever tell you how awesome you are? Not many women would do this death march with my brother and a friend. I dont even walk up town. I am glad you are brave enough to talk about a pissary ring, that is a perfect name for it. I love that you are not only aging gracefully but also with a sense of humor. Glad you survived enough to eat pork. lol

August 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSDA

1, You are a mighty, mighty woman.

2. One day I'll tell my children about how my rectum practically prolapsed as I was carrying my twins (it all but fell out). I'm saving it for the full-on birth control talk.

3. Maybe next year I could run this with you and we could be slow together and talk about any damn thing we wanted to.

Hurray for Healthy Nurse!

And now let's focus on the first half of this post. 23 miles over 2 mountain peaks? Good grief. What you guys do for fun. I'm in awe.

August 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFaveAuntie

Holy wow! I've written about many things but not this and I have to say you are totally badass!!! I will now admit that I need to find a Colorado counterpart to Healthy Nurse. And when I do I'm gonna ask her is she'll do some jumping jacks with me.

BrotherJohn: Have you been hanging out with Erik?

BlissChick: Thanks, you! And hey, so glad you're back to bloggity blogging...

Healthy Nurse: So glad you liked the post. And yes, you've restored some of my "quality" of life, for sure!

SDA: Getting older is just not for sissies! Right?! If I don't do it with a sense of humor, I'm afraid no one will want to be around me anymore. (I know I won't.)

Kim: Ohmygosh! Is it OK that I laughed out loud at #2? And did you mean for your prolapsed rectum to be Number Two? Clever, clever woman, you are. And heck yeah, I'd love to get out for a slow run together :)

FaveAuntie: I'm with you — 23 miles is a little much (even though it was really, super fun). If I lived closer, I'd be all about joining you on your "Couch to 3k" program.

Heather: She's my first jumping jack nurse ever, so good luck!

August 30, 2011 | Registered CommenterMegan Ault Regnerus

I'm forwarding this to a friend who can't run due to the same issue. And thanks for changing the food picture for me!

August 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersuekush

whoohoo, Hoo.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPooknelle

(I'm playing catch up again.) I'm glad to hear that your HOO is getting to let you be you again!!! Yeah for the "pissary" ring!!!!

September 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

Like Laurie, I'm playing catch-up too. I'm screaming over your post.

Healthy Nurse, you blow me away. I blush to confess I assumed you were the sturdy-legged dynamo in the little white folded-napkin hat, and here you are, doing the REAL stuff and changing the most intimate parts of lives. Yay for you!

September 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNice Lady with Dog

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