Jump to content






Photo

Day 55: Naming my Fears about the Gynecologic Exam

Posted by intrepidshe , in Healing Work, Gynecology 03 February 2014 · 148 views

Feb. 3, 2014 (Countdown Part II: 10 days to gynecologic exam):
 
I completed an exercise yesterday that I realized was kind of a warm-up to what I need to do today: untangle the fears I have related to the gynecologic exam.
  • Are they realistic fears, or are they fears that you would be happier without?
  • Where did the fears come from?
  • Are they healthy to retain?
  • How can you move past them?"
  • I fear she and/or her staff will think I'm hysterical.
  • I fear the exam will be painful.
  • I fear my body might react with arousal during the exam.
  • I fear they will not provide the best possible care because they will believe my PTSD is the only health issue present.
  • I fear they will have negative opinions of me because I am out of shape and overweight, and this will compromise their clinical judgment.
  • I fear I will slip into a full panic attack during the exam. It's the humiliation of it that I fear.
  • I fear there will be gossip about me, even if they never mention me by name, they will nonetheless talk about me in judgmental terms (such as blaming me for my promiscuity, meaning they deem me unworthy of compassion for any complications resulting from my promiscuity).
  • I fear there might be a health problem that will require further treatment.
  • And, very oddly, I fear it will be no big deal at all. I will have no reaction to the physical exam. I fear a non-reaction because it will show that all of the anxiety I have expressed up to this point has not been real.
Some of these fears are realistic. Actually, nearly all of them are realistic. I could very well experience pain and/or arousal during the pelvic exam. I could have a panic attack or have no reaction at all. These fears come from prior experience. I don't think, however, it's healthy to be afraid of these things. It's like being afraid of having brown eyes. It's just not something to be afraid about. These are just things that sometimes happen. What's really important to me here is how this differs from the abuse. The abuse was NOT something that "just happened." Having reactions to the physical exam is nothing like the abuse.
 
The health professionals involved with my care could have all kinds of insensitive, unhelpful, uncaring reactions in my presence or away from me. My fears about their behaviors come from my career. I see doctors and health care providers reacting to patients outside of their earshot all the time. They very often engage in the kinds of behaviors that I listed above. Even though these things are upsetting to me, these fears are also not healthy for me to retain. I need to let go of the shame I feel about people's judgments. People do this; and there's nothing I can do about it.
 
What I can do about all of this is keep moving ahead. Access health care and follow up. If I don't get through the full appointment 10 days from now, that's OK. I can schedule another one.
 
I can talk to the doctor about experiencing arousal. I might only need to hear from her that she will respond appropriately. By that, I mean she will stop touching me. I guess we'll need to define our terms about what arousal is like for me. I know there will be lubrication, that's healthy and normal. But, anything beyond that will be the boundary I will need to keep. (I need to put this in my appointment plan.)
 
About the last fear, I need to let go of my internal anger about how I react to things. I need to get beyond the programming from my childhood about not drawing attention to myself, or feeling ashamed of showing any feelings. I am not responsible for providing any specific reaction that will make the health care providers more comfortable. My feelings are paramount in this situation. I need to be OK with that.



Photo
FinallyHere
Feb 03 2014 09:31 PM

"I am not responsible for providing any specific reaction that will make the health care providers more comfortable. My feelings are paramount in this situation. I need to be OK with that."

 

This is powerful and empowering to hear. It summarizes the sentiment of the entire exercise. The attention and care you are receiving is overdue and something you deserve. I am hoping for your improved health, in all the ways we mean health.

Photo
intrepidshe
Feb 03 2014 09:37 PM

"I am not responsible for providing any specific reaction that will make the health care providers more comfortable. My feelings are paramount in this situation. I need to be OK with that."

 

This is powerful and empowering to hear. It summarizes the sentiment of the entire exercise. The attention and care you are receiving is overdue and something you deserve. I am hoping for your approved health, in all the ways we mean health.

 

FinallyHere,

 

thanks! It's all starting to make sense to me now, like something is shifting into place. I'm feeling a bit like I'm coming out of a cocoon.

Photo
yarnfoolishness
Feb 04 2014 06:28 PM

What's really important to me here is how this differs from the abuse. The abuse was NOT something that "just happened." Having reactions to the physical exam is nothing like the abuse


It's ok to have reactions to the physical exam. Reactions are simply that - reactions. They are not planned or chosen responses.

You are doing your planning and choosing in advance. You're working through your exercises. You're writing your letters. You're doing everything possible to stack the deck in favor of a successfully completed exam. It's all you can do. It is enough.

I am not responsible for providing any specific reaction that will make the health care providers more comfortable. My feelings are paramount in this situation. I need to be OK with that.


Yes yes yes!!!!
Somehow I suspect the staff will respect you rather than revile you. As you know I share your fears in this area, but I also know that the kinds of self-respect and courage that you are demonstrating will be inspirational to some. It sounds like it's already been inspirational to the doctor.

Still here and still believing in you.

About Intrepid She

This is a moderated PUBLIC blog. This blog is a therapeutic tool I am using to help me get over my fear of doctors, which is made difficult by a history of abuse by them, to learn to grieve, and ultimately to integrate my dis-integrated heart.

 

View postings specific to health care.

View postings specific to touch.

View postings specific to crying.

 

The content of this blog is not appropriate for children or for anyone who might be triggered by reading about sexual abuse.

 

To the many others walking your own version of this path, I wish you well on your journey. -Intrepid

 

More Healing:

 

- Framed and Unashamed

- Yarnfoolishness' Journal

- Susanna's Blog

- What's Inside my Head?

- Healing Resources

Search My Blog

Pandora's Aquarium, Inc. is not intended to be a substitute for professional assistance. All members and visitors are encouraged to establish a relationship with a trained counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist. Pandora's Aquarium, Inc. offers rape and sexual abuse survivor-to-survivor support only. Despite any qualifications staff or members possess, they are not engaged in a professional relationship with any other member. Survivors in crisis are urged to seek local help by contacting 911 or their local rape crisis center. Use of this website constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Service located here.