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.
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?