Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ice Skating & A Glimmer of Acceptance

I've noticed that I'm getting more skittish about my pain, more afraid of it so that I've started moving my body differently or avoiding certain activities. I don't randomly start doing the Twist (something I used to do a lot, actually), and I've even stopped walking to work, where I walk around all day (makes a lot of sense). And when I see anyone wiggling or jiggling, I immediately "feel" how painful it would be for me to move that way.

Not a good brain state.

My dad has been ice skating recently to get ready for his yearly turn as ski instructor. I ice skated when I was younger, working my way all the way up to the dreaded Axel, the dreaded camel spin (I still hate that thing), and the beginning of double jumps. So when he asked me if I wanted to go the other day, I said no.

Then I said yes. Then I said no. Then I said yes. Then I said no.

Then I said call me tomorrow morning and I'll let you know.

When I woke up the next morning I hurt too much to go. Then he called me and I said I'd be ready in twenty minutes.

So we went and had the whole place to ourselves -- the bizarre overscheduling of ice time at the local rink (score!). I started with a few times around the rink forward, then carefully turned myself around to do back crossovers, one of my favorite things to do in the entire universe. It was wonderful. There is nothing like zipping around the ice backwards really, breathlessly fast. Especially when there are no small children around.

And, of course, my pain didn't stop me. It was just like every day at the restaurant where I work, where, yes, it hurts. It hurts all the time, and then to walk or bend over or not be able to go to the bathroom this moment hurts even more. But I don't shy away at work because of it. I walk constantly, lift things, pick things up, hold my pee during Sunday brunch. I make it every day.

Soon I was twelve again, crouching down to the ice to shoot the duck -- skate in a tuck with one foot sticking out. I tried some meek spins, did some meek jumps, did a lot of 3 turns (one-foot turns), and did back crossovers until I felt like my legs would crumble. I fell splat on my butt doing back crossovers through center ice -- and my bladder didn't break and I got right back up and started again.

We weren't there too long, but I did it: I got physical, experiential proof of my body's constitution. I am not broken. I have pain, and I'm understandably scared to do something that pains me more -- but what's worse than the pain is getting skittish about it. My body is still able, and I need to keep showing myself its abilities.

Pain is scary. Sometimes when I can't pee right away, I feel like something inside me is going to split. Sometimes the vulvar burn feels like actual damage. And those signals to my brain probably aren't inaccurate. There probably is something so wrong down there, with the nerves or otherwise.

Oprah was talking about living outside the box -- contrary to pun, I don't feel like I have a box, a comfort zone, to live in anymore. But I can't fix it, so the pain sticks around and I remain in a land I'm uncomfortable with. Living outside the box may be good sometimes, but in general, unchosen, it's no life. I've got to get comfortable with my pain.

I can't yet say whether pain is just a state of mind, whether I can simultaneously feel it and transcend it like a Buddha. But I see now that I have to just let it be as it is. It's not making any moves to leave, and hiding from it doesn't get me anything but sadder. I may not be able to do absolutely everything I want to do, and I may not be able to do some things absolutely every day, but I have to make sure I keep doing the things I can do in order to stake out a place for me in life. I can't let my pain take my back crossovers from me.


  1. I'm so glad you ended up going and enjoying it, even if it hurt.

  2. That's awesome! I've recently come to a similar conclusion -- I feel like crap whether I work out or sit on my ass, so I may as well work out. I've even been going to kickboxing...which I pay for every time I go, but whatever. The depression that comes from sitting home and doing nothing is far worse.

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    I was wondering, do you think there is a link between vulvodynia and male circumcision?

    Kristen O'Hara ( points out that many women experience pain with circumcised men, but not with intact men. I'm not sure if the pain she speaks about is what you are experiencing or not, since yours is so constant, but I thought I'd share that information with you, in any case.

    For information on foreskin restoration, there is the National Organization of Restoring Men ( and Ron Low and his TLC Tugger (

    Thanks, and take good care.

  4. Hello again,

    I just noticed that you did write, "And the pain started within a day of having sex."

    This leads me to think that perhaps it is related to a circumcised partner, even though you initially noticed the pain in a nearby location (the bladder).

    I haven't figured out yet why the pain would last so long, so I don't claim that my hypothesis is correct! But it does seem worth considering and investigating, if you have the time and interest in doing so.

    Very best wishes.