My pelvic floor muscles had given up the ghost...

Weekly WoW! columnist Sue Russell said she never gave her pelvic floor muscles much thought... until recently
My pelvic floor muscles had given up the ghost...

Sue said she was afraid to leave the house unless she knew she had easy access to a public toilet. Picture: Stock

WELL, I never thought that in all my years of using the internet, the first ‘app’ that I would pay good money for would be one that served as a reminder to do pelvic floor exercises. It’s called ‘Squeezy’ and it is a godsend.

Like many people, I’ve never given much thought to my pelvic floor muscles over the years. Apart from the times I was pregnant, they’re not a part of my anatomy that I have to confront every day - unlike my face, which reminds me of time passing every time I look in the mirror, or my hands and arms, which let me know if I am over-doing the knitting and stitching. But that basket of unseen musculature lurking in my pelvis has always lain there quietly, going about its business of holding lots of bits and bobs together without any indication that it was unhappy, weakening or simply getting older. Until last summer.

I noticed that I was starting to worry about having access to a toilet if I was out and about. Before I went anywhere, my first thought would be where would the nearest loo be.

Despite the lovely weather last year, I declined several invitations to the beach because I knew there would be no facilities nearby. With cafes and pubs and what little public toilets we do have closed due to the pandemic restrictions, it was becoming quite a problem and I found I was curtailing my life.

I put off going to the doctor as long as I could. Partly because I was aware of how over-stretched all our health care workers are, but also because I was ‘minding’ myself by staying away from any potential places where the virus might be lurking.

But my worry about what was going on inside me eventually got the better of me and I finally bit the bullet.

She didn’t have to do much poking about to realise the cause of the problem. My pelvic floor muscles had given up the ghost and were no longer holding everything together, resulting in a prolapse. Basically, various organs were no longer situated where they should be.

It appears that all my years of dragging rocks around the garden, pulling over-laden wheelbarrows up steep slopes, hauling heavy furniture from room to room, carrying bags of coal, briquettes and shopping around were not doing my innards any good. My deep desire for independence, to not ask anyone for a hand with anything unless it’s the equivalent of moving a baby elephant, did not do me any favours.

I have to say that I found this part of the diagnosis the most upsetting. The idea that I might be turning into some kind of weakling, a faint-hearted woman who stood about helplessly while others came to her rescue was not how I wanted to be.

I was used to thinking about myself as able and willing to tackle anything that came my way. But it seems my body had other ideas.

Anyway, the doctor packed me off to see a specialist who sorted me out with a pessary, which basically holds everything together – provided, she said, I give up hauling rocks and such like around the garden or anywhere else. I also went to a physiotherapist to get advice about strengthening those muscles and she has given me an exercise regime to follow.

And since I’m so hopeless at doing regular exercise, she suggested this app, which was developed by the NHS in the UK. Not only does it prompt you to do the exercises, it also times them all for you. Perfect.

So the rocks may stay put, number one son is now on regular duty for any heavy lifting, while myself and my pelvic floor sit on the couch and build up our strength!

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