A Patient’s Perspective

Dean Marie Dolla and Dr. Riva Preil at Plaza College, Educating Women about Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

I’m happy to introduce today’s guest blogger, Dean Marie Dolla of Plaza College. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Marie and help her along her healing journey. Marie is a brave and outspoken champion on behalf of women’s health. Previously, she has openly shared her pelvic floor struggles with friends, colleagues, and students in order to educate others about this condition. As someone who was misdiagnosed and needlessly suffered for years before receiving an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan, Marie is committed to helping others receive care in a more timely and dignified manner.

Marie arrived to our session one week and said, “Riva, I am reading an amazing book, “Living Beyond Your Pain,” and it has helped me so much. You should tell other patients about it,” I responded, “Thank you, this sounds like an incredible resource. How would you like to share the wealth and be my guest blogger?” Marie, in her typical fashion, jumped on the opportunity to help others and agreed to do so. In this blog, Marie shares her story and discusses why she found the book so beneficial:

“I am sure you know the difference between acute and chronic pain, but if you have forgotten let me review this by example. Acute pain is short term as in when one breaks their wrist or ankle. Ouch, but it heals and generally it ends there. Chronic pain is constant or intermittent caused by car accidents and falls resulting in musculoskeletal misalignments, sexual abuse or difficult births which can affect the pelvic floor muscles. In my case, my pelvic pain was related to caring for an aging mother, handling a stressful job, going through menopause, and not self-caring.

So for me, super tight muscles in my pelvic floor is my pain that requires a multidisciplinary approach. It took four years before I received a correct diagnosis, I wanted to get rid of the pain. What I have learned to do is manage it—and without medications that have been touted by mainstream doctors.

During my journey, I got better…then a little worse…and then better again. If you try to avoid the pain, you will only suffer more pain. So accept it? Yes. By not doing that, my world became very narrow. I denied myself experiences I once cherished. So I was introduced to ACT—Accept, Choose and take action. Is this easy? No way. I’m still learning, but my life is opening up again. Thanks to my terrific medical team-my pelvic floor physician, Dr. Andrew Goldstein, my physical therapist, Dr. Riva Preil, and my CBT (cognitive behavioral therapist), Dr. Jana Scrivani.

In this self-help book, there are so many great hands on exercises. One of the hardest concepts for me to grasp has been to separate my thoughts from how I view my total self. On my first draft of this exercise, I completed statements about myself from the viewpoint of my pain. This is so wrong.  I moved from “I am a person who experiences chronic pain from time to time” to “I am a person who enjoys teaching others new things. “ This technique is called cognitive diffusion. I need to practice this and to separate my thinking from my viewpoints about who I am—this whole person who has pain but who also has an amazing pair of red shoes. I am not my pain.

I am learning to take notice of my thoughts and let them come and go. This will help me separate my thoughts about pain and move me away from viewing myself through the pain lense.”

Marie, thank you so much for sharing your experience and for recommending “Living Beyond Your Pain.” We both hope that many readers will benefit from it!

Of Blessed Memory

To my great dismay, I reconnected to technology on Sunday night after I concluded celebrating Rosh Hashana to learn the profoundly sad news of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing. Ginsburg was a heroine who fought against gender discrimination, a champion of women’s rights, a powerful civil rights lawyer, and an empathetic figure who served on the United States Supreme Court for twenty seven years. Thousands have gathered to mourn her passing and to pay homage to her contributions to the judicial system and the legacy she left behind. 


Ginsburg once said, “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.” Ginsburg was a shining feminist icon who lived every day according to that credo. Even in the face of adversity, Ginsburg’s perseverance and compassion spoke volumes about her strength and character. She graduated top of her class in 1954 at Cornell University and enrolled at Harvard Law, where she tackled challenges of motherhood and a male-dominated school, being one of the seven women in a 500 person class. She served as the first female member of the Harvard Law Review, and after transferring to Columbia Law School for her last year, she graduated first in her class in 1959. In the 1960s, Ginsburg taught at Rutgers University Law School, a position she held for 9 years before accepting an offer to teach at Columbia University where she became the first female professor to earn tenure. 


Prior to her 1993 appointment to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton, Ginsburg had already left an indelible mark on society by advocating for gender equality and civil rights. As the director of the Women’s Rights Project at American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), she fought against gender discrimination and argued six landmark cases before the Supreme Court. She successfully challenged a system that offered restricted opportunities for individuals based on prejudice gender roles of the 1970s. As a justice, Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in United States v. Virginia in 1996, which granted qualified women admission to Virginia Military Institute. In 2007, she dissented against Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., and she worked with President Obama to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which promoted worker protection against pay discrimination. 


Ginsberg’s advocacy over the years showed her steady and calculated style, where she tackled gender discrimination and violations of civil rights one battle at a time. Her resilience and determination have positively impacted social justice, and she improved millions of lives by dismantling countless barriers.


Nina Totenberg, NPR’s award-winning legal affairs correspondent, tweeted the following on Saturday, “A Jewish teaching says those who die just before the Jewish New Year are the ones God has held back until the last moment because they were the most needed and were the most righteous. And so it was that #RBG died as the sun was setting last night marking the beginning of RoshHashanah.” Innumerable people have benefitted from Ginsburg’s intelligence, foresight, and virtuosity. We will forever strive to honor, commemorate, and emulate her exemplary ways. May God grant comfort to her family and the many who mourn her tragic loss.