Part Four: DIY Relief for SPD
In case you are wondering if this story will ever end, I promise we’re coming to the end of my SPD story. We’ll start featuring other people and all things related to back or pelvic pain in upcoming posts.
So, I think we have established that it was painful for me to sit. I was so fed up with not being able to sit, I could barely walk and I felt trapped in my home with an expanding stomach.
Now, I realize that things could have been worse still, and I am grateful that my baby grew healthy without issue. However, I ended up with a cold in my 2nd trimester and because I couldn’t take any strong medication, I just had to cough it out. Coughing it out or up is awful when you have tailbone pain. My coughing just added to the pain in my pelvis and tailbone.
You know what else annoyed me? My hair. I had great pregnancy hair, yeah, I said it (sorry, I did, although no one knew it because I was stuck at home). What I mean was it was healthy, thick and grew at a great speed. Now think of someone who likes the occasional trip to the stylist for a cut or color. The pain was added psychological pain, as my isolation prevented me from doing ‘every day’ things that I had previously taken for granted. You know why I couldn’t go to the hairstylist? I couldn’t sit in the car and there was no way I would be able to lean back in the chair to get my hair washed. Trust me, I tried. I was just sick (literally) and tired (literally) of this added SPD pain on top of regular pregnancy-related aches and pains.
Pretty sure my hair looked like Fabio’s hair in the 2nd and 3rd trimester.
As I mentioned in the previous blogpost I just wasn’t getting relief sitting on the donut cushion. For my pain, it was too puffy/bouncy and was putting pressure on my inner thighs, as well as not fully relieving pressure on my tailbone.
I remembered the physiotherapist hand-out which recommended letting your butt hang off of a chair (by turning your chair around and sitting with your legs open). So, I deflated most of the donut cushion and folded it in half. This guaranteed there was no pressure on my tailbone, but I still had severe pain on my inner thighs because the inflatable rubber cushion just didn’t have enough ‘give’ to provide real comfort.
We were getting there with pain relief, but this trial and error was getting costly. We ended up buying a wedge cushion. Nope. The one-size fits all just wasn’t working for my body.
The area around my tailbone (the ‘sit bones’: see the image beside) were also very tender and because the gap in the wedge-cushion was so large, I still had severe pain when I sat.
My entire lower pelvic bones were falling through the hole of each wedge cushion and it felt like I was sitting on the toilet . . . something you don’t want to do for hours at a time!
The pelvic ‘sit bones.’ The more you know.
What kind of cruel joke was SPD?
So, we tried another cushion―this particular one was a memory foam cushion. It was soft and cushy for about 10 minutes and then I bottomed out. Nope, that wasn’t going to do it either. Sure, the memory foam plumped back up, but what good was it if I could only sit on it for 15-20 minutes at a time?
I wasn’t expecting perfection and I think some of these products can still serve practical uses for a variety of people’s pain, discomfort or other issues, but none of them was helping relieve pain in the ways I needed. I needed relief in my tailbone, lower back and thighs and most of all, I just wanted to be able to sit.
All of the cushions were a one-size fits all (regardless of your weight or body-type we are all forced to use the same cushion), all had cut-outs that were too large (or too narrow) to really provide protection and comfort and none of them provided appropriate levels of relief to justify their purchase.
My ever growing stomach was adding pressure to my pelvic area, and I just wanted to sit. So, I called the husband over and gave him a task with 4 simple words: ‘Make me a cushion!’
Now, before you think that this poor fellow is whipped, well, I’ll have you know he’s a pretty sensible guy and if you ask him, I think he was frustrated that he couldn’t help more than he already had been. He was supportive and helpful and I know (whether he says it or not) he was annoyed that he couldn’t find a fix. Being one of those guys that likes to build things . . . this order (!) was more music to his ears rather than a command.
He hunted through the city and bought huge chunks of varying types of foam and started slicing away with razor blades and an electric knife. Eat your heart out, Edward Scissorhands.
Cushion making level:1000. I’m ready!
It was trial and error, but the Frankenstein cushion he created seemed to work. I won’t tell you about the mess in our conservatory with foam shavings everywhere. In fact, I couldn’t bend to clean it up, so for all I know my husband might still have hired a cleaning crew to clean up the mess.
Anyway, what was created was a 3-layered cushion that propped me up high enough off of a chair, it didn’t bottom out, it protected my tailbone and it was soft enough not to put pressure on my thighs. Relief at last!
The cushions have since been tweaked and refined (it meets safety regulations) and had also been tested through various trials with both men and women before it entered the market.
The bath cushion took a bit more time, energy and planning to make, but it works. The hard surface of the bath was just too much for my tailbone, but I eventually was able to lay in the tub to get some relief. We discovered through trials of all the cushions that they had benefits that helped with a myriad of problems ranging from back pain, hip surgery, sciatica, some disabilities and bone deficiency or tissue-related issues.
Our range grew and because we wanted to emphasize that these weren’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution, the varying densities as well as the travel and bath ones meant that people could finally get the comfort they deserved whether at work, traveling or at home.
Before you think I’m just trying to sell cushions, well, no actually I think it’s more important to let others know that they are not alone with SPD. I felt isolated and had no idea that other women had or were having the same pain that I was, and online communities became important in helping me cope with my own pain. So for what it’s worth, you are not alone.
Your pain is something that doctors, midwives and physios should be discussing more openly and if you think you do have SPD, don’t be afraid to ask your GP (or midwife) or get a second opinion.
I want you to know that this pelvic pain (in its various forms) whether it’s a mild annoyance or crippling you is a pain that millions of women have had or have today in some form. There is no cure, but you can find relief. Check out our tips on coping with SPD here and if possible find support groups in your area if you need one.
Bonding and sharing your pain (or tips) with other women out there can be useful and relieve some of your own stress and anxiety. If you want, you can share your own stories below in the comments.
And for any men out there who are suffering from the various types of pelvic pain that can affect you, I hear you too. The links provided are not specific to women, so I hope that you will find information, resources and people that you can connect with.
Be well everyone!
SPD / Pelvic Girdle Pain Support websites
Visit the Pelvic Pain Support Network in the UK here: http://www.pelvicpain.org.uk/
USA (for starters):
Feel free to suggest more in the comments.