Below is the compilation of the blog posts about our New York trip to the Women’s Therapy Center for treatment. I was almost done copying everything when I realized I put the earliest blog post at the bottom and the latest blog post on the top. Argh. So scroll down to the bottom to read in date order 🙂
If you or someone you know is struggling with Vaginismus please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Facebook. There is hope, support and a cure for this condition.
ALso, check out our youtube documentary on the Women’s Therapy Center YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U270HIpTG5k
Goodbye New York. Originally posted July 28, 2011
I can’t believe we have already been here for two weeks- and what an incredible two week it has been. God has answered so many prayers and we give Him all the glory!
“Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion.” (Psalms 103:1-4).
We are super sad to be leaving tomorrow. We have grown to love our doctors- Dr. Ross and Dr. Ditza- and we will miss them greatly. I can honestly say I have NEVER had doctors come even close to these ladies concerning their expertise, bedside manor, tour guiding skills (haha), kindness and generosity. They will forever be a part of the story of our lives and we praise God for leading us to them.
So thankful for my husband who has stuck out these past two rough years. He has truly shown the love of Christ- selfless, unconditional and a true servant. I know that there will always be difficult trials to come- but I praise God for blessing me with such a husband to go through these trials with.
Our last session is at 9 tomorrow morning- then we should be on the road by 10 to head home. I have mixed feelings about coming home- this really has been like a vacation for us and I have enjoyed the extra rest and time off of work and away from our routine life- but at the same time, I am a routine person and I am ready to get back in the swing of things. Ready to move forward- not forgetting Vaginismus- but not letting it dictate who I am but allowing God to use it through us and for Him to continue to lead us to do what He wants us to do.
Week Two! Originally posted July 26, 2011
What a fabulous weekend we had! Just what the doctor ordered Laura and Daniel came in about midnight on Friday evening and we stayed up for a little bit catching up with each other. We then slept in on Saturday, ate a good breakfast and headed out into the city. It was a flippin’ 100+ degrees in the city so we packed a backpack full of frozen water bottles and headed on our way. We took the train into the city- then a subway and went to central park. I did not realize how HUGE it is and we only saw a small portion of it. We also saw the Plaza hotel, FAO Swartz, Ferrari store (for the boys, Laura and I just wanted some A.C.!), Grand Central Station, Time Square, etc. We also went on a circle line boat which is a two hour tour of part of Manhattan. It was relaxing, much cooler and we could see the sights without having to walk in the heat
We then headed back to Long Island and ate at this AMAZING pizza place-best pizza I have ever eaten (sorry Pyramid Pizza-but you are a close second!) and later watched a movie at the hotel and conked out from all the heat and walking. Sunday morning we swam a little bit in the hotel pool then our friends headed on their way. SO thankful for them and that they came up to visit us. It was exactly what Bennett and I needed and we are blessed to have them as friends.
Week two of treatment started yesterday and it is going much better then week one. I can not believe how quickly women can progress in this two week program. Bennett and I did have a freak out moment Saturday evening when the homework was particularly difficult for me and we wondered if we would be the couple that it wouldn’t work for. But Monday rolled around and I could tell people were praying and Monday was a GREAT day! So thankful for everyones prayers and support- and for our wonderful doctors- Dr. Ditza and Dr. Ross. They are amazing and I am so glad the Lord lead us to them!
We are about to head out to our first session of the day- then Bennett is going into the city again by himself to explore. Pray for his safety 🙂
“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” Originally posted July 21, 2011
The above quote is by Helen Keller that was texted to me by a friend today- and I can say this past week has sure been some adventure. Day four of treatment is complete and I cannot believe how far I have come (not to brag on myself–but it’s pretty exciting!). These doctors for sure know what they are doing, they are SO loving and caring and I truly will have a difficult time leaving them next week–but I am not going to think about that as that is a full week away and I am looking forward to this weekend!
Our friends Laura and Daniel B. are coming up to visit us. They will be in tomorrow evening and will spend all day Saturday with us exploring the city and then leave mid morning on Sunday. I am SO thankful for them and it means alot that they are coming up! I am for sure ready for a break from treatment and to have some time with some great friends.
Today’s treatment went well. Emotionally it has been trying- but physically today was probably the easiest day thus far. Bennett took the day to explore the city while I was in treatment so he could plan out our site seeing day on Saturday. I enjoyed some down time and did laundry, watched some tv, etc. I also met a wonderful woman at dinner who I found out is also a believer. She is from Scotland and is here with her family so her 14 year old autistic son could receive some medical treatment. I didn’t share a whole lot about my issue- but enough for her to get the jist and she shared that she had fertility issues and how God has blessed her with four children. She had SUCH a positive outlook on life- even though one of her kids is struggling with his own condition. She told me that she prayed for 8 years that God would heal her son- and then started to pray differently. We do serve a God that CAN do miracles- but she stated that sometimes that isn’t His plan and He has a different purpose. She said she has met so many people through her son and God has used it greatly. It was encouraging to me as there have been many times I have been angry at God and wishing I never had to deal with this condition- but God has a reason. He has taught me SO much already and for that I am grateful and I know He is going to use this to bring glory to Him.
I hope this post all makes sense–it is late and I am pretty wiped out but it helps me to post some and process the day. I appreciate your prayers–I have never in my life felt so loved and supported and prayed over. We both have been extrememly humbled and challenged to look at our own lives in how we can do better to support our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Day 4 of NY, Day 2 of treatment. Originally posted July 19, 2011
A quick update as it is late and I am quite tired but wanted to briefly fill you all in on our first two days of treatment.
I first want to say that I LOVE the doctors that are working with us. They could not be any better! They have been super helpful by providing us with coupons, directions to wherever we want to go, and discounted broadway tickets (which we are hoping to go see a show sometime while we are here). Plus they give us their contact information so we can call them whenever we need them- and not just for medical reasons- even for if we just need a good idea what to eat for dinner.
Yesterdays two sessions were mainly ‘talk sessions’. Talked about our jobs, our medical history, mental health history, our ‘vaginismus story’ and a lot of just getting to know one another. The doctors do a have a great balance of maintaining a professional atmosphere but also a relaxed atmosphere. You can tell they have a passion for helping women/couples with this problem and it clearly shows.
Today’s two sessions were a bit more trying as it was my first day of actual treatment. And just because I know Dr. Ross sometimes reads my blog- there were some very intense ‘training sensations’ (a.k.a. PAIN!-ha) but I was able to do whatever they asked and I am happy about that–but to be frank- it was a physically and emotionally difficult two sessions. Bennett and I ended the evening going to a beautiful beach and that was wonderful and a great way to end the day! The sand is so white and they have these beautiful stones that I never have seen on a beach before so we collected quite a few of those and just took a long walk.
God has been so good to us and I really feel He is teaching me a lot these past four days while I have been here. There is a lot of ‘letting go’ I need to do and I need to simply accept God’s unconditional love for and find FREEDOM in that! I love that word-freedom! I often allow myself to stay in bondage- instead of dealing with the issues up front, hiding them from God, etc. But the bottom line is that the Lord has a jealous love for me, an unconditional, pursuing, passionate love for me and He wants to set me free. There is nothing I can do that can set myself free or earn His love- I must simply surrender to Him and allow Him to do the work in me.
Day 2! Originally posted July 17, 2011
What a day! We woke up around 8:30 and had a fantastic breakfast! I have never had a complimentary hotel breakfast like this one. There were eggs, home fries, sausage, bagels, toast, cereal, waffle machines, pancakes, fruit, juice, soda, muffins, etc. etc. Unfortunately I was a tad bit anxious to eat much but I am hoping after a good nights rest I will be able to enjoy it! That’s a small prayer request–I am having some trouble sleeping. I don’t actively feel ‘anxious’ but I have been restless, stomach pains, etc. So apparently my body knows what is coming these next two weeks and isn’t happy about it…but it’s all in God’s hands. That has been a passage that has been in my mind today- that the Lord holds me in His right hand.
Anyways- we ate some breakfast then we had to switch hotel rooms as we booked a night earlier at the last minute. We unpacked and then head to New York City. The doctor’s from the treatment center have been super helpful as I spoke with one last night who gave us great directions to the nearest train station. We had such a time trying to figure out how to buy a train ticket, shocked at the price and then trying to find the right train as we pull out this huge map to try to figure it out. We were screaming tourist. We did well and made it Penn Station. We spent a few hours in the city- but I am not a huge ‘crowd’ person to begin with and the city was ALOT to take in on little sleep and treatment looming ahead- so we only stayed for a few hours and headed back. We stopped that the grocery store to pick up some items we can keep in our room so we don’t have to eat out for every meal. I got my two favorites right now- roasted red pepper humus with original sun chips and buitoni pasta (all of which I was introduced to by my co-worker Lauren- yum!).
After the grocery store we headed back to our hotel. We have never had this much free time as a married couple and we are thoroughly enjoying it! I grabbed a book (the Prodigal God by Tim Keller, summer reading book for Citylight) and sat by the pool. The weather has been wonderful and it was so relaxing. I have read through the first 40 pages or so–I am working on processing it but it is very eye opening. I am sure I will post more about that later.
While I was reading, Bennett was sitting by the pool with his Mac making videos of our trip. He is quite talented in the media category and as much as I really don’t like a camera in my face- I will be grateful for the capture of memories. He also will have TONS of free time sitting in the waiting room of the treatment center while I am being treated so who knows what he will create.
So our first two days have been good–seeing Jess W., seeing some sights and relaxing. Tomorrow starts our first day of treatment. Our first session is at 10AM and it is just a consultation. I am not sure if we start the actual treatment procedures tomorrow afternoon or Tuesday- but I appreciate your prayers for those!
Safe and Sound, but not sleepy… Originally posted July 16, 2011
…So that means I’ll do some blog posting. I SHOULD be sleepy as I barely got any sleep last night. I didn’t even finish packing til about 9:30pm–didn’t actually fall asleep until midnight and woke up continuously until I finally dragged myself out of bed at 6:00 am. We got on the road around 6:45 and headed to Philadelphia to meet up with Jess W. It was SO good to see her- and what a ministry she is doing! She is for sure in the heart of the city and she is one brave woman of God! Haha- I was freaking out about leaving my car unattended and Jess W. had to continue to reassure me that my car would be perfectly fine. Jess showed us how to take a subway- as this is a major lesson we will need to learn as that is the main mode of transportation of where we are staying now to get into the city. We went to an awesome diner and Jess and I split a yummy cheesesteak while Bennett downed his own We walked around for a bit then said goodbye to Jess and headed to our hotel. Everyone at the hotel has been incredibly friendly. We get a discount at this particular hotel since we are patients of the Womens Treatment Center and they even gave me a card with chocolates! They know what a girl wants when she isn’t feeling her best . Bennett and I explored the hotel and the little town around us and ate at Panera (Thanks Laura and Daniel for the gift card! )- then just came back to the hotel to wind down- except I am having quite the difficult time winding down. Bennett is fast asleep- but I drank a soda at dinner which I rarely do and I am feeling the affects of caffeine! Dr. Ross Tabisel- one of the doctors we will be seeing at the Women’s Therapy Center- called to make sure we had arrived safely and has already been extremely helpful with providing directions to the train station so we can site see tomorrow. I have heard so many wonderful things about these doctors from Jessie H., seen these doctors on several television programs, and then to actually speak to them and have them be so helpful has been wonderful and has helped to ease my nerves. God has been so merciful to us!
I thank you all for your prayers- we feel them for sure. We had safe travels with just minimal traffic delays. I took some pictures from Philly today and will try to post them sometime soon. Be sure to keep Jess W. in your prayers- she has three more weeks of ministry left in Philly and God has done great things so far but she needs strength to continue through the next three weeks and to see God continue to do great things in the city of Philadelphia.
NY Bound! Originally posted July 15, 2011
This will be a quick post as I have yet to start packing…and it’s 6:30pm and we are leaving at 7:00am tomorrow morning…but I am almost done with a weeks worth of laundry
I can’t believe it is already time for our treatment–it has been a whirlwind the last four months–meeting the Hatters, going to Citylight, making the decision to go to the Women’s Therapy Center–but the awesome part is seeing God’s hand in it all. He has been so faithful and I know he will continue to be.
People have been SO generous–I will do a post more about that later but it has overwhelmed Bennett and I. Our church family has been AMAZING, the Hatters, friends, parents (Thanks to mom and dad for an early birthday present of a GPS!!), etc. etc. It has really challenged Bennett and I to give more of ourselves, our time and our money. We have been living so ‘comfortably’ and that has got to change.
Please pray that we can both get a good night’s sleep. Pray for my anxiety level (ha) as I have been somewhat anxious the past few days and need to continually remember to cast my cares upon the Lord. Pray for ministry opportunities while we are there. Pray for safe travel. Pray for God’s healing in all aspects of our personal lives and maritial life-physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Pray that God will use this situation to bring glory to HIM as it has already and I know it will continue.
Also, pray for a fellow blogger friend of mine. I have not met her in person yet but many of you may know her. She JUST now had triplets–as far as facebook says they are doing well but they are tiny so please keep them in your prayers ____________________________________________________________________
No Title. Originally posted April 29, 2011
Friends and Family,
God has continued to lavish us with His love, peace and direction- and there has been one HUGE way that God has rocked our world recently that we haven’t really talked much about. This is difficult for us to share as it is personal in nature, and quite frankly, embarrassing- but we want to show what an awesome God we serve that He cares about every aspect of our lives. We also want to share because we need your prayers. So please read below with an open mind and with the knowledge that the below information will be specific and to the point.
Bennett and I have been struggling with the past year and a half with a condition called Vaginismus. Vaginismus is “the involuntary, instantaneous tightening (spasm) of the pelvic floor diaphragm. This spasm causes the openings of the female genitals to become constricted and makes penetration painful or impossible” (Private Pain, Katz and Tabisel). So how exactly did this play out in our lives?
Bennett and I were not perfect by any means but we saved ourselves for each other- we had not even kissed each other, or anyone else for that matter, before our wedding day. On our wedding night- and the rest of our honeymoon- we were physically unable to consummate our marriage. We thought that maybe we were just stressed and ‘nervous newlyweds’- but this past year and half proved otherwise.
Since then, we have been able to technically ‘consummate our marriage’ but it has been with severe pain on my part- which has manifested itself in other symptoms affecting my digestive and urinary systems. We have been to three different doctors. One in Rocky Mount, one- who is the head doctor of Physicians to Women- in Roanoke, and another in North Carolina. The one in Rocky Mount misdiagnosed me with ‘just an infection’. The one in Roanoke misdiagnosed me with vulvar vestibulitis (google that one) and the third has correctly diagnosed me with Levator Syndrome/Vaginismus (as well as a slew of other conditions that are related- interstitial cystitis, etc.). None of the treatments worked. I even tried treating myself with a ’Vaginismus Kit’ which not only did not work but aggravated the other conditions as well.
So you are probably wondering- where is the awesome God thing coming into play here? I have mentioned in previous posts that we left our church and are at Citylight. We did not know all the reasons why we were feeling led away- we just knew that we were. Some of our friends who use to go to a church in Franklin County started going to Citylight a few months ago. They had met with Bennett and asked him to consider praying about coming as well. A few months later we made our decision and met up with them to talk about it. The discussion got turned to struggles and a thought popped in my head- which I firmly believe was a ‘God thought’. I blurted out that Bennett and I were unable to have sex without pain. I am not even sure why I blurted it out as I typically did not openly discuss my condition- but God wanted me to say something! The couple stated that there was another couple at Citylight, Jessie and Philip Hatter, who for nine years had the same exact condition that we did. I was so shocked. For a year and a half I had not met anyone else who had the same diagnosis as myself. They asked permission to discuss our condition with this couple. We agreed. I knew right then and there that God was working.
When I got home that evening I sent Jessie a message. She quickly responded back and graciously stated that she wanted to help us through this process. I remember being so overwhelmed by how God provides. I had felt very alone for the past year and half. A lot of my friends were getting married, having children, enjoying the ‘romantic, intimate’ part of their marriage. I was struggling with bitterness, depression, jealousy and discontentment. To talk with someone who lives in the same area and understands what I am going through was an awesome God connection. God understands that we need each other. And to make matters better- Jessie has been cured! For the first time since our honeymoon, I felt hope that we too would be cured.
I’ll stop right here to address why I keep referring to it as ‘our condition’ or ‘we have Vaginismus’. Yes, I am the one with physical condition but God has commanded us to be of one flesh and it affects Bennett just as much as it does me. Bennett has been an extremely supportive husband during this difficult period. Lots of men would have been far gone by now. Bennett has stood by my side through the whole process and I am blessed to have him as my husband. As someone once told Jessie’s husband, Philip, while he was enduring the same trial- “How incredible it is that God thought you worthy enough to handle this condition”. Most men would have run, or would have at least resorted to sin- but Bennett has been pure, faithful and loving.
Jessie and Philip had us over to their house a week or two after I had sent her the initial message. We already felt a bond with them because of being Christians, but the connection we felt with them because of having the same condition was almost therapeutic to Bennett and myself. We shared our story, they shared theirs and they promised prayers, encouragement and all the help we needed to get through our struggle with this and to be cured. They discussed with us in length about how they were cured- The Women’s Therapy Center located on Long Island, NY. This treatment included no surgery, no medications, no funky electronic devices being inserted into your body. They encouraged us to at least pray about the option.
Once I found out the cost of the treatment I immediately told Bennett there is no way we would, or will ever go. Bennett, on the other hand, wanted to board a flight and go the next day. I told him that I would pray about it but I wanted to try the “Vaginismus kit” first. One session of that was enough to tell me that I couldn’t do this on my own. God started to change my heart. God brought Jessie and Philip into our lives for a reason- and I firmly believe to be cured. Jessie struggled with Vaginismus for nine years before being cured. She tried 10 different doctors/treatment methods (including surgery) with no success. If it wasn’t for meeting her- I could have been doing the same thing. Dishing out money and time, putting more strain on our marriage and our emotional/physical state for years- and all for nothing. Jessie and Philip continue to tell us how awesome it is that we are dealing with this now, getting a cure, and getting it behind us so that we can have a healthy, happy marriage as well as have children later in the future.
We continued to meet with Jessie and Philip. They continued to pray for us. God continued to work on my heart and I began to feel a peace that this is what God wants us to do. We did a video chat with the doctors from Women’s Therapy Center who did confirm that I had Vaginismus by my symptoms and assured us that I would be cured.
After much heart struggling with the cost, time and craziness of it all we have decided to go. July 18th-29th we will be in treatment at the Women’s Therapy Center. We are trusting God with the cost, as it is a substantial amount of money. But we know that God will provide. He has already blessed us financially and we will be able to pay for hopefully a 1/4th of the cost on our own. We are hoping to get some reimbursement from our insurance company but that will not happen until our treatment is over and done with and are unsure of how much we will actually receive.
God continues to confirm that this is where He is leading us. He had us leave our church which caused us to meet Jessie and Philip who have supported us, loved us and prayed for us. I have earned enough sick time that I will be paid for the full two weeks I will be in New York. Bennett just started a job at Lowes and he was unsure if he would be able to get off and they said it wouldn’t be a problem.
For those of you who are not quite on board-that is understandable. It’s a lot of money and it seems odd that a doctor here in Roanoke can’t fix it- but here are a few things I want to reiterate.
1) God has commanded a husband and a wife to be one and Bennett and I are not able to do that. I feel that me putting my treatment on the back burner and not actively trying to find a cure is sin. This condition prevents me and Bennett from being one, fosters temptation for us to fall into sexual sin and puts a continuous strain on our marriage. This condition is Satan’s perfect foothold to get into a marriage and we do not want him to have this foothold any longer. It would be selfish of me to ignore the problem and to essentially ‘make’ Bennett have a sexless marriage.
2) We want to have kids. Having this condition makes it extremely hard to conceive.
3) This pain is not just ‘a little bit of discomfort’. Gynecologic exams have me practically jumping off the table. When Bennett went to my first OB/GYN appointment and saw the pain that I was in he promised that we would never have to have intercourse again until I was cured. Relaxation techniques, different lubricants, ‘setting the mood’- these are things that are ‘nice’ but do not make a difference for this condition.
4)Jessie Hatter has tried various doctors in Roanoke and outside of the Roanoke area. It would be pointless for me to waste the money and time doing the same thing when I can clearly see what did work and what did not work for her
5) Shortly after I was diagnosed I remember telling Bennett that ultimately, the only thing that could make all this pain worth it is if God could use us and our condition to bring glory to Him. Jessie and Philip have been used so greatly by God in our lives and we want to be used as well. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 states “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”
Jessie and Philip have been a ‘comfort’ to us and we have clearly seen the Lord through our relationship with them. Philip told us the other day that him and Jessie said that the nine years enduring this condition is all worth it because they are being used by God in our lives. We want to be used as well-especially in our unique ‘taboo’ situation which often goes unspoken about. I am so incredibly thankful that Jessie and Philip cared less what anyone else thought but spoke boldly about their condition and how God used it in their lives.
Ultimately- this condition, this trial, this diagnosis- it’s not about us. As easy as it is to focus on ourselves through this- God allowed this to happen so that HE could be glorified. Exodus 19:6 states, “But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Already God is using this condition for me to connect with other women- through email, facebook and even a few phone conversations. One individual lives in the New York area and we are planning to meet up while we are there for treatment. These are individuals that I would have never crossed paths with- but now we are sharing our personal life stories with each other and they are definitely hearing about the great God of my life story.
With all that being said- please pray for us. The cost is daunting, the treatment will be difficult and all the details before and after will be stressful. But one thing I know for sure is that God cares, He loves and He is active in our lives. This post is already getting lengthy but I will soon post specific and tangible ways that God has clearly laid out this path for us. I am humbled by how easily and often I doubt- yet God continues to prove Himself and His plan to me in spite of myself.
Also, if you or anyone you know struggles with this condition- feel free to give them our contact information (email@example.com or for any husbands who need support firstname.lastname@example.org). God does not want any marriage to struggle through this. He desires healing for all. Praise be to our God who loves!