At 29 years old, Deborah Baucom wants what so many young woman aspire at her age — to start a family. But following a series of surgeries related to a deformity of both kidneys and ureters, the otherwise healthy, young woman started to experience severe pelvic pain, forcing her to put that desire on hold.
“I felt a constant pain. It would worsen throughout the day and be debilitating by late afternoon,” says Baucom, a development officer from Edmond, OK. “I would have bladder spasms. I had pain when I used the restroom or had intercourse and a burning pain in my abdomen. It was always in my left side radiating from my pubic bone to my left hip.”
Baucom had stopped exercising, volunteering with the youth group at church and avoided hosting family and social gatherings, something she’s always loved to do. Intimacy with her husband became painful and difficult.
“Talk of having children stopped,” she says. “I grieved for my former life and felt like a disappointment to my husband, family and friends.”
In hopes of finding relief, Baucom sought out several medical specialists to properly diagnose and provide treatment for her pain. She met with two urologists, a gynecologist and a physical therapist, none of whom offered any effective treatments.
“It was frustrating when I was told by a doctor that there was nothing wrong with me and I should just ‘tough it out,’" says Baucom. “Sadly, this is the case for many women with chronic pelvic pain.”
In search of some answers — and a brighter future — Baucom came across information through the Interstitial Cystitis Association’s e-newsletter, announcing a Pelvic Pain Retreat at the Women’s Urology Center at Royal Oak's .
After exhausting all options available, Baucom decided to travel more than 1,000 miles to seek help for her pelvic pain. “Well, I'm officially signed up,” she writes in a Facebook post on the Interstitial Cystitis Association page. “I decided it was worth the investment and risk at this point.”
Baucom attended the five-day retreat for adult women living with chronic pelvic pain at Beaumont’s Women’s Urology Center. The retreat offered an individual clinical evaluation by a Beaumont doctor, physical therapist, nurse practitioner and integrative medicine experts who specialize in chronic pelvic pain. It included an individualized treatment plan and several daily interventions, which encompassed massage, guided imagery, Reiki and yoga; daily educational sessions related to pain and treatment; physical therapy; and psychological tools and support.
“The staff at the Women’s Urology Center were very compassionate and genuinely interested in my well-being,” says Baucom. “Dr. (Kenneth) Peters discovered an area of muscle and nerves, called a trigger point, that is in a constant state of spasm and gave me injections to offer relief. Practitioners at home never considered that trigger point injections into the pelvic floor might be the treatment I needed.”
According to Peters, director of Beaumont’s Women’s Urology Center, "We have several interventions to help minimize or eradicate the muscle spasms or trigger points contributing to our patient's pain. One technique is to inject an anesthetic with a mild steroid into the muscle spasm area (trigger point). Relief can last for several days or weeks, and may be repeated if needed."
Baucom explains that from the five days she spent at the center, she now has a better understanding of her condition, treatment and resources she needs. “It's hard to express how special that facility is and how necessary it is for women’s' health…the staff at Beaumont helped me understand what I need to do and how to prepare for pregnancy, too. My husband and I have decided to start trying for a baby next year,” she says.
Back home in Oklahoma, Baucom continues pelvic floor physical therapy and practices stretches and relaxation techniques she learned at the retreat. She has been referred to a urogynecologist who will give her trigger point injections, as recommended by Peters. Her pain is less and occurs less often.
“Last week, I had four days in a row which I had little to no pain and I did not need pain medication,” says Baucom, just three weeks after the retreat. “This is huge! I cannot emphasize enough what a big improvement that is for me.”
From dreadful pain to a destination of healing, and now off to an tropical vacation with her husband, Baucom is looking forward to her next journey. “And I don’t have to worry about pain spoiling the trip.”
This report was provided by Beaumont Health Systems. Women with chronic pelvic pain should contact the Women's Urology Center at 248-898-0811. No referral is needed.