POP at 30 / Story at 67
I first encountered prolapse aged 30, having no idea that the condition was even possible. I simply knew that something had crashed in my pelvis and that I needed repairing. I had given birth to two babies three years apart. The first baby I couldn’t get out, so after an hour of “labouring” the forceps came out along with my baby 10lb 2ozs (4590g), excruciating. I was appalled that I could be reasonably fit, playing sport competitively every weekend, yet couldn’t push out a baby. Three years later I was determined to get it right and I did! With an almighty push I had delivered all 12lb 11ozs (5770g) of her and a lot more besides. It felt like I had blown all of my pelvic muscles.
I was fortunate to be referred to the gynaecological professor at Middlemore who said: “You young girls expect us to repair your bodies, then you go and have another baby and wreck all our work.” It was a repair job plus a hysterectomy or nothing. After a year I decided that I would rather live a full life than one limited by my collapsed uterus. I was 31 and after the op recovery, life was very good.
I played netball and softball until I was 40. By then aerobics and other group fitness classes were readily available and fitted with my lifestyle. Approaching 50 and working on my thesis (the most anti-social project imaginable), I decided that, upon completion, I would join both a choir and a tramping club. I did and the tramping has exceeded all expectations, being beneficial for mind, body and soul.
For the summer tramps, January 2018, the club was offering (among other walks) the Rakiura, Kepler and Routeburn back-to-back. What an opportunity! In preparation I increased my daily walks and aerobics to include swimming, along with a track in the Hunuas or Waitakeres every fortnight. The walking became jogging, as I wanted to enjoy every minute of those Great Walks. And I did – exquisite scenery, fabulous company, manageable days. I was elated.
Then, mid-February (age 64) I couldn’t believe it when the wall of my vagina did it again. Uncomfortable, unnecessary, limiting. The waiting list for my next operation was fifteen months and I decided that I couldn’t do any more harm. I tried to live as normally as possible, but not so vigorously. The surgeon, along with my GP, were impressed with the neat stitching of the first professor. She was NOT impressed that she was repairing a previous repair and informed me: “No more running, jumping or any form of high impact. Stick with walking, swimming or cycling.”
I honestly felt grateful – that will do for me. The most onerous part of getting back into things was having to take it easy for six months. I attended body balance and Scottish country dancing – fun, yet easy on the body. Gradually I have regained a reasonable amount of activity. This summer I’m preparing for the Hump Ridge track, Milford, Green Lake and Hope Arm on Manapouri. The fitness regime includes walking every day with weights in my pack, along with a pump session, a swim and a track in the Hunuas every week. I hope that will be sufficient! I continue to enjoy teaching full time, so life is very good.
Even though I’ve been aware of prolapse for thirty-seven years I have yet to meet anyone in the same boat and I was surprised to learn of its prevalence. It’s true that you don’t talk about it. It was news to me that there are varying types and degrees of the condition.
Mentally I’m strong. I have great faith in God and have been blessed with so many facets of awesome: daughters, siblings, travel, living in New Zealand! My weeks revolve around family, church, job, fitness and helping others. I don’t allow myself to be burdened in any particular area because I’m very much aware that things can be overwhelming, devastating and grind my entire life to a halt – I’m not going there again. I will always be thankful that, for me, prolapse has been repairable and has proved to be a condition that I can work around.