Frankengina: Four weeks later

by statia on October 5, 2011

Three years ago, when I had my original consultation and post-op, I came out of the office having a major anxiety attack. I knew that it just wasn’t the time to go through it. The Mini was at the beginning of his journey, and then that fall, I found out that we were expecting LG. I have to think that this timing was cosmic. But at some point, I knew I had to go through with it, or my quality of life, well, there was no quality.

Several people have asked me exactly what the surgery entails, and sometimes, it’s hard to explain to someone that a doctor was taking a knife to my hooha. More women go through this than you can imagine.  My issues don’t define me.  I’m not embarrassed by them, especially since it’s not really my fault.  It’s just the shitty luck of the draw.   So I’m about to go into detail.  If you’re squeamish, avert the eyes.

The surgery that I had was called a Vulvar Vestibulectomy.   That’s fancy for “taking a chunk of your skin out of your girl parts.” Basically, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had this burning.  A raw stinging feeling.  What caused it is suspect.  My mother used to buy colored toilet paper, which caused a multitude of problems for me as a kid.  Once they figured it out, I was fine, but there could have been tissue damage.  Another thing that we suspect caused it was the birth control pill, which I went on to regulate my frequent periods.

What didn’t cause it was promiscuity.  Not that I’m judging you if you had 3,800 partners.  But I had about 3,795 less than that.

You can read more detail of what I went through here.

Vestibulitis is gaining in awareness.  More doctors are understanding it, however, very few perform the surgery.  Some will attempt it, but it can lead to botched surgeries, causing further pain.  My doctor, Dr. Andrew Goldstein, is one of the tops in this field.  When I first met him, I felt like I was being judged.  He’s a bit cocky, but I guess when you know your shit that well, you can afford to be.  The second time around was far better, and he put me much more at ease. He really is a nice person, and has a lot of interest in helping women becoming pain free.

A vestibulectomy is basically an outpatient surgery where they remove the offending nerve tissue, in the hopes that the pain will subside and you can lead a somewhat normal life.  You may never be 100% pain free, but most women go on to be 95% pain free, or more.  And when you have that little pain after years of living in sweat pants because it hurts to sit, you’re doing freaking cartwheels.  Curious to see what the surgery entails?  Here are some pictures of the surgery (obviously not MY personal surgery).  I don’t have to warn you that it’s pretty intense.

So what should you expect if you’re contemplating this surgery?  Which by the way should be a last resort.  There are countless different regimens out there.  Since everyone is different, they try a combination of things to see if it’ll work.  When it doesn’t, or stops, then consider surgery.

The Pain: Post surgery pain is nothing like I expected it to be.  I expected for my girl parts to be on fire.  I expected the worst burning I could ever imagine.  But that was the one thing I noticed the lack of.  Burning.  I was amazed.  There is discomfort and pain, but like anything, if you take the time to heal, (and stay on top of the pain meds in the beginning) the pain gets a little bit better every day.

Recovery: Recovery time is extremely important.  Dr. Goldstein has an almost militant recovery instruction list.  And my advice is to follow it to the letter.  The office where I had my surgery had completely different instructions, which had me up and “back to work” the next day.  This is definitely NOT the surgery where you’ll be able to go to work the next day, or even get out of bed.  There’s no walking up and down the stairs at.all. the first week.  You’ll be in the bathtub at least four times a day to keep the area clean and to help with the pain.  While you’ll start to feel worlds better after two weeks, you truly need at least 4 weeks of low activity (with some bed rest at least a couple of hours a day) to heal properly).   The success of the surgery is largely based on how much of a sloth you are.

Make the ice your friend: For the first week, you’ll be keeping a constant ice pack on your bits.  It might seem extreme, but trust me, you’ll love having the ice there.  It truly helps with the pain management, even though you’re high as a kite on pain meds, the ice is great.

Rely on others: This has been the hardest thing for me.  I’m a do-er.  I love to keep myself busy, and I love to do things myself. I’ve had to rely on everyone else to take care of the kids, and lift heavy things, and do the laundry (ok, this isn’t such a bad perk), but even with the help of my family, the house has still suffered and I’ve had a lot of unfinished projects.  It’s making my brain itchy, but it’s only temporary, and hopefully in the long run, it’ll all be worth it.

So there you go.  More than you need to know, but anyone stumbles upon this, I hope it helps.

{ 10 comments }

Shelly October 5, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I am amazed you ever had sex more than once, much less that you went on to make beautiful babies. You are a warrior with a frankengina.

river October 5, 2011 at 5:46 pm

A good bit of information here, thanks. I have the same condition, but much less severe, with only an occasional day of burning and stinging. Sex is painful, but I’m currently un-partnered so that’s not an issue.
I thought about surgery the first time you mentioned it, but here you’ve mentioned several recovery necessities that are causing me to have second thoughts. A bath four times a day, for example. I don’t have a tub in my flat only a shower. Ice packs? Hmmm. The bed rest and no heavy lifting I could definitely handle.
But really, this condition is not impairing my life at all, so while I’m thankful to know what is causing this burning/stinging, I’m also thankful that the two or three episodes a year that I get are not enough to consider surgery.
I’m glad you are feeling so much better now.

jen October 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Wow. I am glad that you were able to have the surgery.. I sure hope that it handles all of the issues it was giving you. What an awful thing to have to deal with…

Shannon October 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Dude – I clicked on the photos. You, woman, need a freaking medal for going through that, and I really mean that.

Old School/New School Mom October 8, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Hope you recover soon lady! And that sex is good after the whole recovery process!

loudlyshy October 13, 2011 at 11:05 am

I clicked because “Frankengina” sounded too good to pass up and now I have my legs firmly crossed. That sounds AWFUL. The bits are so very sensitive, the idea of having to deal with daily agony just makes me want to cry. I’m so glad someone came up with this operation to give you a semblance of normalcy. I’m a great sloth, I would kick ass at recovery from this surgery.

statia October 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm

I can’t sit still for long. I’m always doing something. I tried to look at this as a silver lining, being forced to slow down. The first week, I was so drugged I didn’t care. The second week, I was being ordered to stop picking toys up off the floor.

Siera October 16, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Thanks for posting this for others with this condition. The recovery seems a lot akin to vaginal child birth.

Dana October 17, 2011 at 3:00 am

Scheduling surgery in the next few weeks. I’m excited and terrified. My twin sis with the same condition had the surgery 9 years ago and is good to go! It’s scheduling the down time with two youngish kids that is the hardest. I almost feel selfish but it will be a small price to pay in the end for me not to wince every time… My husband will be glad about that too.

statia October 19, 2011 at 9:32 pm

It was definitely hard with a four and two-year-old, but they bounce back, and they had their time with Mama to sit and watch movies together. We sometimes ate dinner together while I sat in bed, which was such a novelty to them. They understood as best as they could that they couldn’t jump on me and tried really hard to not hurt me. It’s so worth it.

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