Warning, this post is about sticking things up your butt. Yep, you read that correctly. If you continue reading, you will read about sticking things up your butt. Specifically, things being stuck up my butt. Now, before you get all excited (if that’s your thing) or grossed out (if that’s not your thing), this is NOT an x-rated post you Nasty McNastersons. This is a post about a test called an EMG (electromyography) test. Specifically, this post is about my experience using a EMG test as a participant in the Mayo Clinic’s Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Program.
I shared a few posts ago that in addition to Crohn’s and my other goodies, I was diagnosed with an evacuation disorder. Well, because of this disorder I am unable to shit. Yep, no matter how much food, laxatives, colonosocpy preps and etc I pack in, virtually nothing comes out. As you can imagine, this is quite painful…and potentially dangerous. In December I found out that my inability to shit caused pressure ulcers in my colon, a severe impaction, and a very serious complication called ischemic colitis. Well, after a trip to the world renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, I was given a name for my issue and a solution.
A wise man once told me that you should never say what you will never do, because you never know what you will ever do until you find yourself in a situation that you never thought you would be in. I know, I know. You’re thinking “if the person was so wise surely they could’ve used fewer words.” Well, I said the person was wise…not brief! But, friends, the words of this wise man rang true for me this week.
All my life I have had a policy that the butt is an exit only. Yep, exit only…unless an insertion is being done by a medical professional. Now, no disrespect to those that enjoy putting things in your anal cavity…just kinda not my thing. Well, I recently had to abandon that policy…more times that I cared to actually. Candidly, that rule has been violated 17 times and counting. So far, the only insertions have been the equipment pictured above. But, by the time all is done, it will be the equipment above, a balloon, and some sort of vaginal insertion that I will never speak of.
I arrived to the 14th floor of the Mayo Clinic for my 8am appointment on March 6 around 7:30. We have already discussed my type A tendencies so no one reading this should be surprised that I was early. Despite being early, before I could take my seat after checking in, I was greeted by a VERY chipper nurse named Nurse Boggio. Nurse Boggio (who is ABSOLUTELY amazing by the way) and I walked down a short hallway and entered a room numbered 64. This room (pictured below) was my home 3 times a day.
Each room is equipped with a bed, a table with a computer and chair, two sitting chairs, a dressing area that you use to privately change into a hospital gown, drawers to house your personal equipment that is assigned to you for the duration of the program, and a commode on wheels. I have placed a picture below.
Once inside the room, Nurse Boggio and I sat down at the table for a lengthy discussion. We covered my history in great detail, what I could expect from the program, and she answered all questions I had about the program. Nurse Boggio also showed me a box with my name on it that contained all my equipment in individual plastic packs. As she described each piece of equipment she opened each pack in my presence. Once she was confident that all my concerns had been addressed, she pointed me to the dressing area in the room and asked me to undress from the waist down and put on a hospital gown.
Once I was undressed from the waste down and in the hospital gown, I slowely walked over to the table near the commode. Unsure what to expect, I timidly crawled into the bed. Nurse Boggio could definitely sense my nervousness so she softly said “don’t worry, I will tell you everything before I do it.” She then asked me to lay on my side in the fetal position. Now, everyone knows that any adult asked to get into the fetal position is about to be violated…and when I heard her open the packet of KY Jelly I knew this was about to be serioius.
Deeply disturbed by what I knew was about to happen (I mean she had just described it in great detail so I knew what was coming), I began to squeeze my booty cheeks as tight as I could. I then heard Nurse Boggio softly say “ok, cold fingers on your booty”. Without thinking, I immediately put my fingers on my booty. Nurse Boggio chuckled and said “oh no, MY cold fingers on your booty.” I laugh and softly said “ok”. Nurse Boggio then replied, “ok, I need you to breathe out and try to relax. I am going to now insert the equipment.” I tried with everything in me to relax, but let’s face it how exactly does one relax with a stranger sticking something cold and hard up your butt…and they haven’t even taken you to dinner?
Nurse Boggio could definitely feel the tension in my butt, because she let out a hearty laugh and said “ok, I can definitely say the diagnosis was correct. You have Arnold Schwarzenegger muscles back here. We will just take our time and work this equipment in.” Well, after after 12 minutes the equipment FINALLY went in. Relieved, I rolled on to my back and Nurse Boogie handed me a beige controller that contained letters. She explained that the controller captured anal sphincter muscle activity using the electrode she had just inserted. She explained that the letters on the keypad correspond to a numerical chart, and that a normal/desired reading is a 1.0 or less (D or less). Well, never to be one to disappoint, my numbers registered a 9.0 (N). Unwilling to accept this reading, we turned the machine off multiple times, but each time we turned it on the reading was the same. In fact, it took over 30 minutes for it to move even a little from the highest setting. Nurse Boogio actually thought my numbers registered higher…but N is where the machine stops.
Disappointed by my reading, I jokingly said “who knew having a tight ass could be a horrible thing.” Nurse Boggio laughed and said, “well, I can definitely say this is probably the worst reading I have seen in the 20 years I have been doing this, BUT I am confident we can fix this. I can also tell you if there was ever any doubt that you had a evacuation disorder, this reading just cleared that right up. Honey, nothing is coming out of you.” Excited that someone finally understood my pain, I loudly exclaimed “THAT’S RIGHT, THAT’S RIGHT!!”
After we were over the initial weirdness of sticking the equipment up my butt, we were able to get down to business. We spent the remainder of the session teaching me how to appropriately breathe from my diaphragm in an effort to relax my pelvic floor muscles. I am happy report that after 15 sessions (3 visits a day for 45 minutes 5 days a week), my baseline reading has dropped to 2.1…reaching as low as 0.9 in some sessions. So, the short version is the program is definitely working. Without the use of laxatives I have had successful bowel movements each day after the program. For me, that is unheard of. Historically I routinely go up to 4 weeks without movement…and somehow I thought that was normal.
While I am not yet done with the program, I have already seen a big improvement in my condition. I have a better sense of my body and what certain muscle should and should not do. I also understand how to work to relax those muscles and the importance of doing it. Lastly, I am learning to control those muscles and feel when they need my attention to relax. I can say without hestiation that this program was a great decision, and you DEFINITELY get everything you pay for! If you battle with chronic constipation (which for Chronies is not typical but can happen) you should definitely check out this program. It is VERY intense, but thorough…and IT WORKS!