Why did you decide to specialize in Pelvic PT?
It really wasn’t a decision as much as I just sort of fell into it. When I was working on my doctorate at Duke University, we had the opportunity to select clinics to rotate with, and I didn’t really know what area I wanted to go in. I ended up selecting an orthopedic, neurological as well as Women’s/Pelvic health rotation with the thought that it would make me “well-rounded.” At that time, I had no idea that I would be blessed by working with Darla Cathcart, PT, DPT, WCS, CLT (one of the best Pelvic PTs in the nation, in my own unbiased opinion) and had absolutely no idea that I would fall head over heels with Pelvic PT…but that’s what happened. I loved the patients. I loved helping people with problems that can be extremely life-impacting. I found that the more I learned, the more I wanted to know… and that is when I knew that this was the specialty for me.
What is one of your most memorable patient experiences?
All of our patients are special, and I truly think I have been taught by each and every one of them. However, I do remember very clearly one of the first patients I ever treated, as she marked for me the turning point from “I may want to sort of do Pelvic PT” to “I definitely am specializing in Pelvic PT.” She was a wonderful 28-year-old female referred to our clinic for dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse). She had been experiencing pain since her first sexual encounter and had actually had several relationships end over that issue. She was the first patient I had worked with who had this diagnosis, and I was shocked at how quickly she improved. Within a few weeks, she was able to have sex with her partner without pain, and I clearly remember her sitting in our office with tears in her eyes telling us how happy she was. That was such a powerful and impacting moment for me, and I realized at that point that I needed to help more men and women just like her.
Is there anything that surprises you?
I joke with my patients that not much they could say would surprise me :), but on a more serious note, I am constantly surprised at the ability of my patients to rise above difficult circumstances to truly impact the lives of others. I have seen people experience tragedy and pull through to the other side, and that is inspirational and encouraging. Part of what I love about my job is the relationship I can form with each and every patient I treat. Those relationships are what push me to become the best therapist I can be so that I can truly impact the lives of my patients for the better.
What do you see, or what would you like to see, in regards to pelvic PT?
My patients always ask me, “Is this a new treatment?” and the sad answer to that is no. Pelvic PT has been around for a long time (over 100 years!), but so many people do not even know it exists! I was one of those people before I went into physical therapy, and I wish that was not the case. I would love to see Pelvic physical therapists become more active in advocating for our profession and advocating for the health of our patients! I would love to see patients start seeking out pelvic PT as a treatment when they need it so they can get the help they need sooner rather than later!
If you could provide someone with just one piece of advice in regards to pelvic health, what would it be?
My biggest piece of advice would be, “Listen to your body!” Our bodies are fascinating and wonderfully made! We are given cues all of the time when something doesn’t seem to be working properly, and it is important to pay attention to those cues and nip them in the bud! Many times, my patients will tell me that they have been leaking urine for YEARS, or having pain during sexual intercourse for YEARS, or experiencing constipation for YEARS…and that is not okay! Talk to your doctors about the problems you are experiencing…talk to one of us about the problems you are experiencing… talk to someone! Don’t settle for “common” problems…help is available and there are wonderful people (all of my colleagues!) who live to help YOU!