When Chelsea first called us, she was about six weeks away from her wedding and dealing with significant abdominal and pelvic pain. She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to enjoy the day, and scared that even putting on her wedding dress would be too painful to tolerate.
This Q&A with Chelsea is part of our ongoing patient stories, and Chelsea wanted to share her journey to raise awareness for others.
PelvicSanity: Thanks so much for sharing your story – it means a lot to others out there who may be dealing with similar issues. Can you give us a brief overview of what you were dealing with? How long had it been going on?
Chelsea: I’ve been dealing with significant abdominal pain for almost five years. It first appeared after a volleyball injury at that time. At first, the pain would come and go. I would think it was going away, and then all of the sudden it would flare up again. I tried to ignore it for the first two years.
After it got to the point where it was so painful I couldn’t do daily things in my life – like carry anything, or even walk for any distance – I knew I needed to get medical treatment.
Over the last several years I had been to so many different doctors, physical therapists, or other specialists without any real improvement.
PS: What doctors had you visited, and other treatments had you tried?
At first my doctors thought it was a hip issue that was causing my pain, and then they tested and ruled that out. Next they thought it was a sports hernia, and I even had a surgery, but it didn’t provide any relief.
I started working with several different physical therapists, and worked with many different massage therapists. I visited multiple pain management doctors as well.
With some treatments I would get some short-term relief, but the pain would always come back. Some treatments would flare my symptoms even more.
It felt like I was just shooting in the dark, and none of my doctors or PTs ever identified the exact problem. As you can imagine, I was so frustrated with the whole medical system and all these ‘experts’ giving me their opinion without being able to help.
PS: Wow – so what prompted you to give us a call at PelvicSanity?
I had first heard about you from a family friend who was a patient of yours. She had lots of pain in her lower back and had been dealing with it for years – like me – and finally found success at PelvicSanity.
So she spoke very highly of you, but I live in San Diego [about an hour away] and I work during the week, so it was hard to find a time to come. Also, at that point I wasn’t very trusting of doctors and was hesitant to try yet another treatment. It took me several months to give you a call, but my wedding was getting closer and closer, and I really didn’t want to be in severe pain on such an important day.
PS: How did you feel after your first appointment with us? Did you feel more hopeful and a better understanding of what was going on? Did you notice an improvement after your initial session, or how long did it take to notice a difference?
First of all, I felt so comfortable during the entire first appointment. Bonnie, my physical therapist, gave me a great understanding of what was going on for the first time after all of those doctor appointments. She explained all about fascia, what was causing my pain, the pelvic floor connection, and more. I knew more about what was going on after that first visit than I had learned in years of other treatments.
After that first day, I felt a major release. Even after that first visit, my day-to-day pain was reduced. I did feel some soreness or tightness, which Bonnie told me might happen, but I could tell it was the good kind, as we had worked out a major issue in the body.
Something I loved about Bonnie and your office is that she gave me a program to do at home. It put me back in control of my health, and allowed me to continue to improve, especially living so far away.
PS: We were definitely on a major deadline to get you better before your big day - did that happen?
I know – my first appointment with you was only about a month prior to the wedding! I got in three treatment sessions before the wedding, and really appreciate your staff and Bonnie coming in on several Saturdays to accommodate my schedule and get me better before the wedding, even with our last session just two days before.
I’m happy to report I was completely pain-free for the wedding! That was my primary goal – I didn’t want anything on my mind pulling me away from my wedding, and I was able to focus completely on the day. It’s hard to believe it was just three visits before I was able to be pain-free after five years of pain.
I had so much fear before coming to PelvicSanity that my condition would interfere with the wedding. I was even afraid I wouldn’t be able to tolerate the pressure and tightness of my wedding dress.
The wedding night was another big concern after my history of pain, and an area where Bonnie and I had been working on, but I had no pain at all!
In fact, the entire honeymoon I didn’t have any recurrence of pain or flare-ups, which was such a blessing!
PS: That’s so awesome! We're so glad you found us when you did. If you could go back in time and give some advice to yourself when you first started experiencing your symptoms, what would it be? Any message for others who might be in your same situation?
One piece of advice is definitely to avoid surgery if at all possible. Looking back, I definitely jumped into a surgery far too quickly. It’s hard when a doctor is telling you that he knows what is going on and that a ‘simple’ surgery will fix it, but it didn’t help anything for me and actually probably set me back.
The big thing is to listen to your body and your own instincts. I had many doctors and physical therapists tel
l me different things, but at the end of the day you know your body best. Trust yourself when you don’t know which doctor to listen to, and keep an open but guarded mind. I would encourage others to be open to different forms of therapy, especially after regular doctors haven’t been able to diagnose or help you.
Finally, don’t give up hope! I had been in pain for five years, and to all kinds of different specialists. When I found Bonnie and PelvicSanity, I knew I was in the right place, and immediately felt more hopeful and confident in my recovery, which was confirmed when I quickly started getting better.
PS: Is there anything else you’d like to add? I’d like to thank you so much for sharing your story – we know that can often be difficult!
I’m just so grateful that because of you guys I was pain-free at my wedding! I really appreciate how friendly and flexible you were in working with my schedule, and even opening up additional time to get me in just a few days before my wedding to make sure I’d be ok.
I loved working with Bonnie. When I came in really stressed out, she was always so personable and friendly during our sessions. She always prepared me before we did anything, so I knew what was going on the entire time and felt completely comfortable.
Just loved the light and caring atmosphere at PelvicSanity, and so glad I came to you guys when I did!
PelvicSanity is Orange County's premier pelvic floor physical therapy clinic. The team here have won awards, written books, taught other physical therapists, conducted new research in the field, and - most importantly - helped hundreds of patients from all over the world meet their goals. The PelvicSanity blog provides practical, positive information for patients beyond the walls of the clinic.