This Won’t Hurt a Bit
“You save yourself or you remain unsaved.”
― Alice Sebol
Sometimes the simplest situations become a real struggle for me. The fear that developed many years ago is the fear of being touched. I’m not talking about just getting butterflies. My fear totally encapsulates everything about me. This makes it incredibly difficult to go to see doctors no matter the reason. I’ve been living with herniated disc issues with nerve impingement. It should just be a simple thing to go to a doctor and follow their advised regimen. For me….It’s like being put in a tub of boiling water and saying, “Be Still!”
This has to be one of the most frustrating areas of my life. I tend to stay in unneeded pain because of this intense fear. I luckily got an appointment same day I called to meet with someone about my back. When I hung up the phone from making the appointment I just started crying. The fear blankets me and the panic ensues. Knowing that I’m about to be touched by someone in a position of power and dominance is more than I can tolerate. I don’t think doctors even consider how it must feel for people who have been traumatized to be touched. There are a very small group of people that I will let hug me. And family don’t get a free pass just because they’re family. There is not one moment I like because socially it’s very embarrassing. Sitting before you is a woman who is very tense and has a smartass tone in her voice and comments. When you walk towards her she drops her head in shame only for her tears to begin dropping.
What the doctor now sees in an “immature” adult who is just being “childish.” Before I left Albuquerque, I got a respiratory infection that required antibiotics. This meant that I absolutely HAD to be seen by a doctor. This was not one of those ailments that I could stay at home and manage. I went to one of the local Urgent Care centers once again attempting to face my fears. The nurse calls me back and, of course, heads directly to the scales to be weighed. I politely tell her that I have eating disorders and that weighing makes me incredibly uncomfortable. She says, “Ok whatever. You don’t have to stay on their long. But hurry because I just pushed the button to zero out the scales.” As if the gates of hell just opened and said, “Welcome…” I quickly snap back and say, “yea I’ve had experience on scales all of my life. I would hate to inconvenience you by making you push a button again.” I completely understand that eating disorders are not something that people are typically versed in. However, the medical community I expected, at the very least, some compassion about the situation. And well…empty yet again.
Already edgy and completely irritated that my feelings were totally disregarded and invalidated, I sat up on the exam table completely embarrassed and humiliated. The hairs on the back of my neck were raised like I was about to be examined by Satan himself. The doctor soon walks in and says that she wants to listen to my chest. Not a big deal until you see that little internal child that sees another scary and painful situation where someone much bigger than you is about to touch you. It doesn’t matter what their intentions are at this point. My fierce protector began her warm up with the nurse and is waiting to pounce in protection of this child.
The closer the doctor gets the more I begin to shake uncontrollably in fear. I begin sobbing at the first step. The doctor replies quickly without one ounce of compassion, “What is this childish reaction? You’re being ridiculous.” I reply, “Ma’am I have been molested and raped during my life and being touched is very scary no matter the reason.” She says, “Well this reaction is just ridiculous. You are an adult and shouldn’t be acting like a toddler!” I said, “Ma’am why don’t you just give me some damn medicine so we can be out of each other’s life. You’re stomping on that one damn nerve that I had left before I even walked in here. You have a personality like a bag full of badgers and you have the compassion of a pit viper! Medical school has you guys so scared of transference that you’re practically dead from the neck up.”
What the doctor didn’t know was that I had gotten so scared that I peed in my pants. I left as soon as possible with tears still in my eyes and wet pants. I thought to myself, “Why did I even try again? This is why I don’t go see doctors. They don’t care and don’t listen.” Examples I can list for days about my interactions with doctors. Yearly pap smears, mammograms and whatever that needs to be checked have not been done in several years. Even with Mel going with me as added support it’s like dropping me right back into the situations that scared me to begin with. I can’t stay grounded and switching happens in fast forward depending on the type of doctor.
We have both spoken with doctors and asked if I could be sedated to have cancer screenings done. There answer’s always, “well we might could do some Xanax.” Mel’s reply is always, “not unless you want her to catch a charge. That medicine makes her very aggressive and well…she doesn’t need any help in that area.” They always reply, “I’m sorry there’s nothing that can be done.” Of course I have my own questions in return. I usually say, “Ok let me get this straight….so in the year 2017 we have dentists who can sedate because of adults and children with severe fears and anxieties about their visit. But for sexual assault survivors who fear being touched there’s nothing that can be done to simply help with cancer screenings? Doctor do you see how that rationale is about the dumbest I’ve ever heard of?” I’ve been told before, “well maybe you should see a therapist.” My smartass reply, “Oh well thanks for the advice. I never considered seeing a therapist to make things better. When do you think I should make an appointment? And by the way….I told you all of that at the beginning of this visit. Maybe active listening skills should be something you work on while I’m in therapy.”
What just happened was that I was highly triggered before I ever entered the office. But the visit turned out to be that I was touched and not heard. And well, that makes the visit counterproductive for us both. It really just hammers home the idea that my feelings don’t matter and they are touching me anyway, no matter the reason. Sounds a lot like what my perpetrators did. The only difference seemed to be that this touch simply came from someone in a white coat who was trying to help me.
Have you ever noticed how we as a society ask people how they’re doing but we don’t really want to know how anyone but ourselves and immediate family are doing? The reason is that we aren’t prepared to hear how someone is actually doing. We often don’t know how to respond and makes for a very uncomfortable social situation. In regards to medical professionals, some type of education needs to be taught about the long term effects of abuse on children and adults. Shaming patients is so damaging. Even saying, “This won’t hurt a bit” is a mute point.
I want and need my medical issues to be addressed desperately. But repeats of this situation keep me away because of the extreme embarrassment and shaming that typically occurs, maybe even innocently, at the hands of someone in a “one up” position. When this happens I don’t see a doctor. I see those same hands that caused the initial fear coming for me again.
For those that think abuse have no long term effects…..THINK AGAIN.