Tag Archives: learning experience

It’s Vaginismus Time Again, Folks!

On my last post I promised y’all further details on my ongoing vagina adventures. Today, you lucky sumbitches get to hear about what my first visit to a pelvic floor physical therapist was like.

After making my appointment, the physical therapy center sent me a “patient packet” containing a bunch of forms to fill out. Mostly they wanted to know the standard shit about medical history/medications/ability to pay, but there was also a bladder log where I was supposed to write down details of every piss I took. (When did I pee? How long did it take? Did it hurt? What color was it? Was the toilet clean? Did it contain any scorpions? Were they from outer space? Did they abduct you? Were you probed? Which orifice? Etc., etc.)

This confused me, so I called to ask if I really needed to fill out the bladder log, as I wasn’t being referred for anything relating to urination. Answer: Nope! (Nor did I have to sign the sloppily-worded form that technically said I was consenting in advance to ANYTHING they felt like doing to me, up to and including dissection. I knew what they meant, but I still wasn’t about to put my name on it.)

**Side note: When I met my physical therapist, she was surprised I had filled out ANY of the forms. Apparently most people don’t. This is part of an ongoing theme in my life where rules apply only to me because I assume they’re supposed to be followed. If you tell me I absolutely must or there will be problems oh my gawd do something to access services I need, I do it. Finding out later those “requirements” were actually optional just pisses me off and destroys your credibility. Enforce your rules equally, people! /end rant

On the same call, I grilled the poor receptionist on what EXACTLY was going to happen at my first appointment. (I’ve had a few different gynecologists over the years, and 100% of the time I showed up at my first appointment expecting a consultation while the doctor was planning to give me a pap smear. That’s not a nice surprise.) I had no idea what to expect. “Pelvic floor therapy,” for all I knew, could mean they were going to make me lift barbells with my kegels or something. The nice lady agreed to put a note on my file saying I only intended to talk during the initial appointment, and that I would bolt at the first sign of stirrups. I was reassured enough by her humoring me to actually show up on the day in question.

Turns out I was freaking out over nothing. The doctor was very nice and was willing to accommodate my raging terror of medical settings. She assured me that we would go at my own pace, and she would treat me even if I didn’t let her give me an exam. (For the record, I don’t object to the exam itself so much as having it sprung on me unexpectedly.) We discussed some tests she wanted to give me later, she gave me some breathing exercises to do in the meantime, and I went on my merry way with an appointment for a follow-up in a few weeks.

The exercises are pretty easy. I’m to do something called “belly breaths” every three hours and a yoga-style pose every morning and evening. Technically it’s named “happy baby” pose, but I call it “dead frog.” (The version the therapist taught me is slightly different than shown in the link, I assume because it’s easier to do. The general idea is the same, though.) I essentially just lie on my back and grab my ankles, bringing them more-or-less to chest level. We could also call it the “please look at my butt” position.

The night after my appointment I got undressed for bed before I remembered about the dead frog thing. So I lay down on the bed, grasped my feet, closed my eyes, and started concentrating on breathing with my diaphragm. It was actually pretty soothing.

So there I was, lying on the bed naked with my vajayjay waving hi to the world. Also on the bed was a cat. A cat with a cold nose. A cat with tickly whiskers. A very curious cat. Imma just let you imagine what happened next. (Hint: There’s now a dent in the ceiling over the bed where my head hit it.)

Once he stopped laughing, my husband had to come over to haul her away, because she is also a very determined cat once something catches her interest. Now I make sure to wear pants or hide under the blankets while doing dead frog pose. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES.

Next appointment the physical therapist is going to stick an electrode to my taint to measure just how taut my pelvic floor muscles are. Maybe I’ll bring party hats! That’ll make it less awkward, right? Right.

Seriously, ladies, if you’re having difficulty using tampons or having sex, see your doctor. Don’t let my griping scare you off. All in all, this whole process is turning out to be a relatively easy fix. It’s mostly just stressful for me because I’m so woefully ignorant about my own genitalia, and because I’ve got a plateful of anxiety disorders. You’ll be fine! Just be aware of your pet’s proximity to your crotch when undergoing treatment.

Coochie Chronicles (Because “Vagina Monologues” Was Already Taken)

Wow, it’s been a hot minute since I updated this blog, huh? Allow me to reward your patience with the saga of my twat adventures!

I’ve been ashamed since puberty of my inability to use tampons. They won’t go in and they hurt like a bitch. I assumed I either had unusually narrow lady bits or was doing it wrong, so I didn’t ever tell anyone. Luckily, I found out recently that not only do I have a fairly common disorder called vaginismus, but that it’s treatable! (You’d think I would have learned this before hitting my thirties, but high school sex ed…blah blah…society teaching girly parts are gross…blah blah…ingrained prudishness…blah blah…white coat syndrome…etc.) As it was explained to me, the muscles surrounding my genitalia don’t know how to relax at all. As Wikipedia explains it, those muscles involuntarily react to the prospect of penetration by yelling “Nope!” and slamming shut. I guess it doesn’t really matter which it is, as the result is the same.

Let me back up a bit: I need exercise (source: my pants that used to fit), but stuff like walking or using weights is too hard on my joints these days, so my doctor recommended water yoga. After much procrastination fueled by my fear of swimsuits, I finally got my gear and was ready to go. All I needed was to wait for my period to be over because of my lack of tamponability. (Totally a word. Spellcheck can suck it.) Unfortunately, I forgot that I have two loooong periods a month, leaving me four days max to go to the pool. See the issue?

So I need to treat the vaginismus so I can wear tampons, so I can work out, so I won’t be so fat, so my rheumatism won’t be so aggravated that I suck down enough painkillers to dissolve my stomach into puddle of ibuprofen. An improved sex life is just a side benefit…depending on if you ask me or my husband.

My doctor—who I used to like—made me buy vaginal dilators and see a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor issues. Actually, I completely forgot we had talked about the latter (probably because I’d never heard of such a thing), so imagine my surprise a few days later when I got a phone call one morning from a nice lady informing me that I had been referred to, essentially, a crotch doctor. I was asleep when she called, so after a long silence I blearily mumbled that I would call them back.

When I was awake enough to be coherent, I called and said, “WHO referred me to WHERE to exercise my WHAT??” The nice lady patiently explained and I ended up with an appointment before I could panic and hang up. More on that later.

But first I had to order vaginal dilators, which are essentially plastic cylinders you stick up your hoo-ha. I did an Amazon search (I’m sorry, but I’m not marching into a pharmacy to ask them where they keep the vagina wideners) and only got a few results. However, there was a “related items” list that had a lot of similar-looking metal thingies. I was confused when I noticed that most of the reviews were by men:
“These are great for sounding!”
“I found them more comfortable for sounding than so-and-so brand.”
“My girlfriend was skeptical about sounding until I got these. Five stars!”

Huh, I thought. Maybe sounding is another term for vaginal dilating? But why would so many guys be interested in them? Thus my doctor’s recommendation resulted in a Google search that I will never, EVER forgive her for. It turns out sounding is the practice of using tools to widen the urethra until you can stick a finger (or whatever) into it, I assume for some kind of sexual purpose. I don’t know—I slammed my laptop shut before my eyeballs could accidentally read details.

Thank the gods I didn’t do an image search.

Listen, you’re welcome to whatever kink turns your little crank. I personally don’t see the appeal of an enlarged pee hole (except maybe for passing kidney stones), but I don’t begrudge anyone their fun with another consenting adult. HOWEVER, I could have lived my life just fine without knowing what sounding is. That’s a mental image I can’t unsee. (Note: If I’m wrong about any of this, I DON’T CARE. Please please please do not contact me in an effort to further my education on this matter.)

Anyway, I finally ordered a set of vaginal dilators, and now Amazon keeps recommending interesting products based on my search history. The fun never ends!

The idea is that you start with the smallest of the set and work your way up as space allows. You lie down, lube up the least intimidating one, put it in, and stay that way for half an hour or so. I did the first treatment while Tim was at work, but it occurred to me that things would be a bit awkward if, say, the cat started throwing up and I had to rush over to push her off the chair. Now I wait until he’s home. Moral: Always have an inserting-things-into-embarrassing-places buddy available to spot you.

I need to go look up more euphemisms for my reproductive organs before I can tell you the rest. That’ll be another fun Google search. Tune in next time for the gripping tale of what my physical therapist is putting me through! It also involves cats.

Conversations with a Broken Brain, episode 1

 

What are you doing?

I’m working on this bracelet, obviously.

It sucks.

No. No it doesn’t. Also: Fuck you.

Seriously, it sucks. You’re incompetent. I can see three flaws and you’re not even halfway done.

Those aren’t flaws, I just changed the pattern slightly. I think the design is more cohesive this way.

You must be joking. Messing up patterns? Thinking you can modify designs and it won’t end in disaster? You’re not even a real artist.

Yes I am!

Um, no. You’re just a n00b with delusions of grandeur. How many pieces have you sold on Etsy? How many galleries display your work? Does anyone not related to you read your blog?

That’s not what makes an artist. A “real” artist is someone who makes art. Period.

Hiding behind inspirational quotes, I see. I assume you got that one off a bumper sticker.

Actually, I have heard it from many artists I admire. Besides, success takes time. I’m not going to improve if you make me give up.

Being a REAL artist requires more talent and hard work than you’re capable of.

That’s not true…is it?

You think other artists spend this much time arguing with themselves? Your production rate is abysmal. Furthermore, everyone else’s art is much better than yours. Everyone’s.

…Even if that was true, it wouldn’t matter. I’m still an artist.

Fine, you’re technically an artist. But you’re trying to make this a legit business. Who the hell do you think you are, thinking anyone wants to buy your shit? There are a lot of unsuccessful artists out there who are way more talented than you. It’s arrogant to think YOU have a shot.

I’m talented. I think.

You know who doubts themselves? Losers.

Okay, I KNOW that’s not true. Everyone has doubts sometimes.

Other people’s doubts are unfounded fears. Yours are a reality check from your gut feelings.

No.

Just accept that you’re worthless and give up.

No!

You’re a waste of space and so is your art.

…No.

Yes, it—

SHUT UP! You’re wrong. I know you’re wrong. You won’t win this time. I. Am. An. Artist. Moreover, I’m a good artist.

Sure you are.

Don’t I take medication to keep you from talking this way to me?

You can’t turn off the truth.

IT’S NOT TRUE, DAMMIT! I am done with this pointless argument. You won’t stop me from creating. I am finishing this bracelet, and I’m going to sell it, and it will make someone happy, and you can just go fuck yourself.

Whatever you say, O Delusional One.

I hate you.

I am you.

I know.

Liberate Your Art 2017 Postcard Swap

This is my first year participating in the annual Liberate Your Art postcard swap, and I am hooked. I connected with some badass artists, got nifty art to display in my studio, and made some cool postcards of my own. I’m definitely going to do this again next year.

(If you don’t know, a postcard swap is an event in which artists get their original art printed onto postcards, then mail them to each other. In this case, the postcards were sent first to the swap host, who addressed and distributed them.)

I’m not sure who all got my five postcards, but I heard from a few. One of my recipients was a local woman (Tennille McVeigh, photographer extraordinaire) who is also a member of the Brownsville Art Association. Another of my cards went to Europe. This was my postcard design:

This design features one of my favorite ways to monoprint: a doily on a gel plate.

Now check out the cards I received! To see all the cards sent everywhere, visit Kat Sloma’s blog. Speaking of which, many thanks to Kat for hosting this swap! She’s got this down to a science.

Click any picture below to see a slideshow with commentary.

The Scary Big City

I have a mostly rural background. I grew up on a farm at the end of nowhere (that’s half again as remote as the middle of nowhere), I graduated from a small town high school, and I’ve never lived anywhere particularly pedestrian-friendly. My big-city-living experience is limited to the year I lived in Medford, where I pretty much avoided going anywhere except my job right down the road.

I’ve always been fascinated with metropolises; in fact, when I was but a wee sprat I thought I wanted to live in New York City. I’m pretty sure I just wanted to get far away from the delightful farm aromas to which I was accustomed. Then I realized I’d probably just be trading cow shit in the barn for human shit in the alley.

Anyway, I was excited to experience the great! big! city! of Corvallis when I rented a studio downtown. I was also–as Illidan would say–totally not prepared. (That joke probably makes no sense to most of you, but the two readers who play WoW are rolling on the floor.) I’ve rarely been so bewildered by an environment. There are SO MANY people. That may seem obvious, but the sheer number of bodies roaming around didn’t sink in until I was wading through them every day. I felt like I’d just stepped off the train in my straw hat and overalls muttering, “Reckon I’ll make my fortune off these here city slickers just as soon as I find me some heifers to wrangle.” (“Wrangle” is a technical farm term meaning “wander around the field hoping that you are somehow convincing the stupid livestock to go the correct direction.” It is a futile hope.) During the day, my neighborhood is a solid wall of humans in search of coffee. At night, it’s an overwhelming mess of lights and traffic, at least to me when I’m trying to drive home.

I’m very slowly getting used to it. However, I have a few questions for you folks that are comfortable in such places:

1.) Why the fuck do cities need so many one-way streets? Do city people enjoy driving around the block seventy times to find a road going the right way?

2.) On days when I’m feeling particularly antisocial, is there a way to keep people from looking at me? Sometimes I just can’t handle the risk that some friendly stranger might try to interact with me (the poor fools).

3.) What really happens when you accidentally put your trash in the wrong dumpster? Judging by the signs, the world ends in an explosion of cosmic wrath. Ditto with parking.

4.) Is it normal to be easily distracted by window-shopping? Because it takes me 20 minutes to walk one block due to looking at all the pretty colors. Apparently I will admire your broken plumbing if you put it in a front window with an interesting sign.

5.) If a car stops in the middle of a crosswalk I’m trying to use, is it permissible to set them on fire? If not, do you know a good lawyer?

Honestly, I’m really enjoying exploring my new surroundings. I grumble and snark, but my city experiences have been mostly positive. I have been assured that someday I will feel less overwhelmed. In the meantime, feel free to say hi if you see me out and about. You can recognize me by the flamethrower I’ll be carrying.

I’M FUCKING TERRIFIED

I’ve done something crazy. Something I never thought I’d do. Something that scares the shit out of me. Something that might blow up in my face.

I leased my own artist studio in Corvallis.

So why the hell am I doing this? Even though driving long distances can trigger panic attacks, even though I have yet to ever make a profit at this business, even though this is by far the hardest project I’ve ever taken on…

The short answer: It was time for me to take a risk. The long answer: I took an online course that helped me realize that I simply don’t have the right personality to work effectively at home. (I wish SO MUCH that I could. It would save me a fuckton of rent money.) I need a dedicated space to make art and write. The worktable next to my bed wasn’t cutting it, so I decided to make a change instead of giving up. I didn’t expect quite such a drastic change, but looking for a tiny office locally kind of snowballed into leasing a two-room suite downtown in a big city.

My reasons for not giving up in descending order of importance:

1.) Spite. Who am I to tell me I can’t do something? I’ll show me!
2.) Incentives. Now that I’m obligated to fork over rent every month, I’m very motivated. (Read: scared.) Gotta make that dough, y’know.
3.) Opportunity. Downtown Corvallis is really the best possible place for me to be. You can’t move without tripping over an independent gallery. I can just wander around my neighborhood to scope out potential carriers of my goods.
4.) Mental health. You know that theory that you can cure someone of acrophobia by taking them skydiving? I choose to believe that regularly driving 40 minutes each way will help me get over my fear of driving. Or I’ll spend the first hour at work every day curled up in a shivering ball. Whichever.
5.) Pride. I’ve dedicated too much of my life to being an artist/writer to give up now. Do you have any idea how many types of glue I own?? I can’t let that shit go to waste.

I’m not going to bother to give you the address of my studio because there are generally three locked doors between me and the street, I work extremely odd hours, and it’s not really pretty enough to receive visitors in yet. It’s very rough right now. (The paint is seeking a divorce from the walls. They’re fighting over custody of all the random nails.) Once it’s presentable, I’ll post pictures.

This development doesn’t affect you a whole hell of a lot, really. Just know that I’ll be writing and arting a LOT more, so check back here and on my Etsy site often for new stuff. Eventually, someday, I plan to have a Skirkbucket Studio dedicated YouTube channel. Please let me know in the comments what kind of content you’re interested in seeing. I live to serve.