Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hypermobility Strikes Again

I am learning that hypermobility in pregnancy is not a fun or a good thing.  Actually, it really kind of stinks.  Things are going downhill in ways that I really couldn't have imagined or predicted.  Not that it surprises me, but still I was hoping things wouldn't get to bad.

My joints have gone haywire!  My knees now bend totally backwards occasionally, my ankles are floppy useless things, and my pelvis has decided to just disengage from the whole rest of my body.  Luckily, my OB is a wonderful person and has sent me to physical therapy for the last several weeks.  Because it was an OB doing the referring I got in with an amazing therapist (and her intern) for pelvic problems.  These two ladies are crazy booked up, and I am very happy to get to see them roughly twice a week.
They have been working on the pain side of things, and just trying to keep things from getting to out of hand.  They have been concentrating on keeping my pelvis attached to the rest of me.  I joked one day that it felt like my spine and hip bones were separating from each other and that they had this weird pulling sensation.  They said that that is exactly what is happening.  Ok, cue the freak out!  

This is what the pelvis looks like.  The sacroiliac (SI) joint is where I am having the most problems.  It is literally pulling away from the spine due to the hypermobility and the increase in hormones from the pregnancy.  Normally, a person wants this separation so that a baby can have a bit more room to come out.  Unfortunately, it feels like my body is trying to spread out to allow a baby elephant out instead of a human.

This laxity is causing some major problems.  I am really unstable standing up or walking.  I have had it give out on me, and I have hit the floor (or tub) a few times and have several other near misses but caught myself on something to stay upright.  I have no strength for lifting my feet up either.  Trying to get dressed in the mornings is turning into a comedy of errors and I look like one of those weeble-wobble punching bags bouncing around trying to stay upright.

To combat this instability the PT encouraged me to get an SI belt.  I tried out a  Serola Sacroiliac Belt in the office and decided that it seemed like a good idea.  I was warned that Bug might not like having the belt on at this point of the pregnancy because it will be squeezing around his head.  But, if that turns out to be the case I can use it after he is born to pull my hips back into place and provide the stability I need then.

I have also been working on exercises to try to add some stability.  Apparently, it is normal in pregnancy to have your glutes stop working to their potential because of the hormones causing laxity.  This means that two little tiny muscles are doing all the work of holding the pelvis together and making walking at all possible.  I am very thankful for those two tiny muscles, but they sure HURT!  They are so tight and painful that the PT can barely touch them to try to work them out.  It isn't fun when we get to the massage part of therapy.  I was worried that they were so sore because I wasn't doing enough of the exercises or homework, but they told me that it is just part of the hypermobility combined with pregnancy.  Those poor little muscles are just going to get tighter and more painful as things go on. Oh, joy!

Besides the exercises and homework therapy they have been encouraging me to take some of the water aerobics classes that are offered at the gym that is part of the hospital I am using for almost everything.  I was trying to hold off from joining the gym until after Bug came because I didn't want to pay for it and I thought it was going to be crazy expensive.  It was more than I wanted to pay, but having done several of the classes now, I am glad I did it.  The gym has a heated therapy pool that they use for the PT side of things, and that is where some of the water aerobics classes are taught.  The classes have been good so far and it is nice being in the water and not aching as much trying to move.  It is weird in some ways though because I am generally the youngest person there by about 20-25 years.  It is also awkward to have to explain EDS to people and that I am 8 months pregnant, because I don't look old enough to have joint problems and I am still not looking crazy pregnant.  The other odd one is having the instructor say "just do a normal range of movement."  Ummmm, what is normal supposed to look like?  In the water I am even more flexible because it doesn't hurt and I can't hear the cracking/popping joints.  I had a friend tell me I should find the oldest person in the class and just do as much as they do.  It seemed like a good idea until the oldest lady was 90 and was clearly a "mover and shaker".

I have also been having some skin problems.  I have been bruising more than normal, which honestly I didn't think possible.  It is a very bad sign when you find a new bruise and wonder where that came from.  Also, I have been having my skin tear and cut very easily.  That is a slightly newer problem.  I was taking a shower today and looked down at my legs... it looks like I have gone several rounds with a weed-whacker.  I have also been dealing with my shoes eating my feet alive.  My feet are swelling because of the pregnancy, but I now no longer have any shoes that fit without leaving new cut marks on me.  I know my skin is fragile normally, but really this? 

Stretch marks have started to be an issue, too.  This isn't a vanity thing!  I am covered with stretch marks already because of weight issues and the EDS making them more common - they are on my arms, hips, chest, and legs.  Now, they are showing up in places that I have never had them like my waist line and around my back.  I am mildly worried with all the foot, ankle, and leg swelling I am going to start getting stretch marks there.  These new ones are really uncomfortable and kinda hurt.  I have been using Curel Life's Stages Nurturing Comfort Moisture Cream -Pregnancy and Motherhood that AJ got me for Christmas, since it has collagen in it.  I keep hoping it will help with the lack of collagen, but I don't think it is going to be that easy.  I don't generally put much confidence in the hype of such lotions and potions, but the uncomfortableness has made me willing to try things.  It isn't the normally itchy stretch skin that I am used to, but more of a ripping pain sensation.

It is really odd having skin that feels tight and painful.  I think the oddness is of a lot of things is what gets me.  I am used to bruising and having cuts, but not to this extreme.  I am used to a certain amount of pain, but not to the level that it makes me just break down and retreat from the world because I physically can't handle it.  I hate having to admit that I can't push through the pain, or I am having real trouble walking.  It makes me feel weak when it takes me a couple of minutes to stand up and actually start walking.  I cry when my knees bend backwards, my ankles fold in, or my hip pops and I almost fall down.  It is scary.  It is painful.


Joy said...

I'm so sorry, Molly. Let me know if there's anything I can do

K. Crowson said...

Oh Molly! I SO feel your pain. I'm currently 33 weeks with our 4th (thankfully I deliver between 35 and 37 weeks each time so it's ALMOST OVER!) and I NEVER experienced pain this badly with my others (I had some pain but it got worse with each one until now it's excruciating)

I can relate to what you describe. Don't feel alone's horrible and so hard to get through. My pain started at 14 weeks and I'm just so ready to be done with it. I had an episode so bad I wasn't able to move and lay on my parent's floor for 4 hours icing my SI joint before I could even put one foot in front of the other.

It's not fun. I'm so glad the PT is there for you...I've heard they're wonderful though we have no insurance so I haven't been able to use one myself...I do see a chiropractor and massage therapist here and there and that helps (get a massage if you need some comfort both physically AND mentally.)

It's almost over and you will make it through. Hugs hun and keep your eye on the prize at the end....shortly you'll be saying how worth it it all was!!!