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Robyn Dehart hikes up a mountain in Tennessee until she arrives at the end of the trail and takes a deep breath.
Her friend drives to her in a four-wheeler. He stops, and she gets in. He drives her back to the beginning of the trail, and she walks it again.
“It was a gift from God,” she says. “I never dreamed I would be doing that again.”
But she was wrong.
Beating the fear
Before mountains and hikes in Tennessee became her reality, Robyn faced another uphill journey: colorectal cancer.
Even after learning that her treatment brought her the news that she was cancer free. But her journey wasn’t over; radiation left scar tissue inside her colon and vagina, causing her significant pain.
Her radiologist prescribed pain medication, but it didn’t relieve her pain and muscle spasms. She went in for an appointment and had an open conversation with Physician Assistant Karen Seta who referred Robyn to Kate Wolf, a pelvic floor therapist. Robyn hesitated to reach out, scared about what pelvic floor therapy would entail.
But after her pain became overwhelming enough to send her an emergency room, she changed her mind.
In excruciating pain, Robyn sought help. But the pain medication still wouldn’t work. She couldn’t find relief. She couldn’t stand up straight. And she feared losing her ability to walk.
“Every step hurt.”
Doctors at the emergency room wanted to try an epidural, but that terrified Robyn. She trusted no doctor enough to risk the pain and discomfort that might bring. So, they urged her to try pelvic floor therapy.
Desperation lead her to Kettering Health Pelvic Control Therapy.
“When I went to see Kate, that was a last-ditch effort to keep from having an epidural.”
Trying something new
Robyn brought a friend to her first pelvic floor therapy appointment. She was scared and needed support from someone who had walked with her cancer journey.
“I was afraid because I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I had no clue what was going to happen.”
But then she met Kate Wolf. Kate sat with Robyn during her appointment and explained that the scar tissue and muscle spasms might be affecting her nerves. Robyn had to learn to relax her pelvic floor and hip and core muscles in order to stand upright, walk, and perform day to day activities without excruciating pain.
“She spent the time trying to set me at ease,” Robyn said. “She probably spent half the time talking with me on what the problem could be.”
The other half of the appointment Kate performed soft tissue massages and myofascial releases on Robyn’s leg muscles. Robyn left her appointment sore and still scared of what might happen at future appointments.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Robyn noticed a huge difference in her mobility during her third appointment with Kate.
The spasms in her legs weren’t as bad. She could move her legs more freely and without as much pain.
Robyn realized Kate knew what she was doing. She could see this process would help her improve. She started to trust Kate.
“It made me more at ease with her,” Robyn said. “But it was wonderful. Just knowing there was a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Working through the pain
Kate did more than manual therapy and figuring out which exercises were best for Robyn. She made Robyn feel understood and comforted when she was scared and vulnerable.
They would talk about the activities Robyn wanted to return to: hiking and kayaking. Robyn had always been active, and she wanted to live that life again. Kate listened. She asked questions. She learned about Robyn’s fear of losing her ability to walk and dreams of hiking mountains again.
“We talked about everything,” Robyn said. “She took her time and was patient with me.”
“Kate was the best thing in my life in 2021.”
Robyn is thankful she took the risk to try pelvic floor therapy and is ready to trust Kate through the thing that scares her most: a more invasive approach to evaluating her pelvic floor muscles.
But because of the care Kate has provided and the trust Robyn has in her, she’s not as scared.
“I feel okay about that because I trust her now.”
Kate will focus on the scar tissue and address any hyperactivity of the pelvic floor muscles contributing to Robyn’s pain.
“Without Kate, I wouldn’t be walking anymore,” Robyn said.
Now, she can stand on a mountain in Tennessee and breathe in the cold air as she puts one leg in front of the other, back to doing what she loves. Because of Kate’s care, Robyn’s dream of hiking again became a reality.
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