Day 99: The Gynecologist R* Me >>major trigger warning<<
Regarding my posting from yesterday,with some wonderful ideas and encouragement I plan to pursue the project. I have ordered a few books that will help me work my way through it.
In the meantime, there are parts of my story I have posted in non-public forums here in Pandy's. Some of these I want visible here in my public blog.
With that goal in mind, here is the event from my history that started me here at Pandy's. There is an addition to the story I held back when I first wrote it, related to something about which I feel deeply ashamed.
Raped by a Gynecologist
In some ways it seems strange that my story in Pandy's started here, because this assault was more of an ending than the middle of a story, more the climax of the plot than the opening of the story. The rape by the gynecologist was the most recent sexual assault in my life (I'd love to say the last, believing it will never happen again, but I will always believe it could happen again). In one important way being raped by a gynecologist is the beginning of my story because it turned out to be the event that instigated me to return to the work of healing after 20 years.
I was in my late teens or early twenties. (Time is funny to me and it is hard for me to pin things down to specific years.) What I remember is that I was living with friends, renting their basement. I had gone away for college and returned after six months, unable to keep myself in a classroom desk. I walked away from a free college degree. Ha. Perhaps it is more accurate to say I ran or I danced away. I was full of fury. I was in need of oxygen to fuel my overly abundant internal fire. I needed to burn two or three candles at both ends in order to be able to sleep at all. Although I had been a well-behaved, sedately serious high-school student, I slipped into a new me when I left for college.
The people I lived with after my brief college stint worked in health care. And, they were very caring people who loved me. I was safe with them. One of them recognized my monthly bouts of sickness and asked me what was up. I explained that I had pain with my monthly cycle.
After seeing me in significant amounts of pain several times she convinced me to go to the doctor. I didn't believe the pain I experienced was sufficient to warrant a doctor visit. I was raised to believe that one visited the doctor when you were a step away from death's door. I was seen by a doctor only a handful of times in my life. In fact, it was shameful in my family to need to go to the doctor; it costs the family money. It was wasteful, because you'd get better anyway. You don't need a doctor.
Despite my programming, when my roommate insisted I should be seen, I agreed to go because I trusted her.
I saw her doctor, who was a family medicine physician. He didn't do a physical exam on me. He just took my history. After talking to me he said I needed a specialist, a gynecologist. I had never been seen by a gynecologist (as far as I could remember). Possibly when I was six I was seen by one, after I had been r*. I can't remember if my mom took me to the doctor. I just remember having a medicine inserted into me multiple times. But, that's a story for a different chapter.
My friend's doctor was kind and he seemed trustworthy. And, he also thought the amount of pain I described should be evaluated. So, I decided to go ahead and see the gynecologist he recommended. I figured I hadn't had a bad experience with the family medicine doctor, so I should be OK with this gynecologist.
I don't remember how many times I saw the gynecologist, which haunts me. It might have been three or four times.
But, I do have one distinct memory. He r* me (with the speculum, and possibly with his fist). Maybe more than once. It happened at least once, at the appointment prior to my surgery. He told me I had endometriosis and needed surgery to treat it. When it happened I didn't, at all, recognize what happened was wrong, or traumatic. I just knew it hurt. A lot.
I thought the pain was because I was too tight, too nervous and he was not careful enough with me. Although I was not a virgin, I was not sexually active at that time in my life. What he did felt a lot to me like what happened when I was a child. But, when I was a child I was told it wasn't rape. At that time the babysitter used his fingers (after trying his penis but changing his mind). The reaction at the time from my mom was, "He messed with you. Thank goodness he didn't rape you."
So, I had reason not to believe what happened with the gynecologist was rape. I had been there before and had been assured it wasn't rape. Also, I had lived through a decade of child sexual abuse by four other perpetrators. So, when I arrived at that gynecologist's office, I had a belief that the world was a place where people touched you in any way they pleased. It was normal for someone to invade my body. It wasn't something to get upset about.
For that matter, nothing was anything to get upset about. My family system had lots of rules about not drawing attention to yourself, not feeling sorry for yourself, not complaining, not making anyone uncomfortable. And no matter what, never, ever cry. As a child I survived outright physical neglect to the point I developed failure to thrive syndrome. I survived physical violence and homelessness.
I was the perfect target for that doctor. I knew the world to be a hard, cold, cruel place and I knew there was nothing need be said or done about it.
When he "examined" me, he jammed the speculum (or his fist, or maybe both) into me. It was like being punched. My body jumped back, away from the pain, away from his hand. I pulled myself up to a seated position and cried out, "Ouch! That hurt!"
My memory stops there. With me sitting up, clutching my knees to my chest, searing pain shooting through my torso. I could feel the pain up my back, through my jaw, across my shoulders. I don't remember what happened next. Did I leave the exam room? Did I lay back down and let him complete the "exam"? I don't know. Somehow, though, I don't feel the need to know.
My memory picks up next in the hospital before the surgery . . . some days later, I think. The blood tests they ran found a problem that caused several specialists to visit me. They were able to eventually determine the test result was anomalous and allowed the surgery to proceed as scheduled. After the surgery, apparently (according to my friend who was with me), the doctor spoke to me, giving instructions for at-home recovery. I was so looped out on the anesthesia I didn't remember even seeing him.
Some time after the surgical recovery I had a follow-up visit. This time there was a nurse in the room. (Years later I learned that he had been required to have a nurse in the room because of the complaints that had been made.) During this exam he didn't injure me, as far as I can recall. In fact, I don't remember the exam itself. I only remember the nurse. I remember the appointment being really tense. She seemed tense.
One of the things he said to me at one of my appointments was that I was unlikely to be able to get pregnant, or if I did, I wouldn't carry to term. He even said pregnancy would be risky for me. Whatever that meant! He offered to inseminate me since I was young and should get pregnant while it was still somewhat possible.
I couldn't believe what he said about getting pregnant simply because of my age. It didn't matter if I was ready to have a child, if I wanted to have a child, if I was able to take care of a child. I should get pregnant or else I would miss out on my chance.
But, I was in no position in life to be a mom. I lived an aggressive, cathartic existence on the edge, over the edge, of poverty. I was fine with my life that way, but it would be no way for a child to live. I was not about to expose a child to experiences like those I had as a child. And, I was 100% sure I was not parent material.
No way should I have a child.
I told him I didn't want children. I never wanted children. I declined his suggestion that I allow him to inseminate me.
I was OK with the idea of not having children. I was relieved, in fact, by the news that my body wasn't up to the task.
It was a mistake to have believed him, and it took many years for me to realize he was wrong. He probably lied to me about my inability to become pregnant. My belief that I couldn't get pregnant caused me to make important decisions about contraception that would have been different if I had believed I was capable of conception. So, I got pregnant, about seven years or so after he told me I wouldn't. And, with seven years of relationships, I had good reason to believe he was right. [ahem]
But, I got pregnant. When I saw the test result, I had a moment of fear, but almost immediately I realized I was meant to be a mom. It was an intensely spiritual moment for me. A peacefulness descended upon me and I knew not only would I be OK, but I would take good care of my child. In fact, I had an incredibly healthy pregnancy and felt physically better than I had ever before.
Thankfully, at that point in my life I had been through over four years of therapy (focused on CSA by my step-father). I had let go of my cathartic, self-harming behaviors. I realized that, although I didn't know if I wanted to be a mom, I was ready to be a mom. I made the best choice of my life and decided to dedicate myself to the joy and well-being of this new person. I decided I would be a great mom.
I can't say for sure if I have risen to the level of "great," but I feel confident in saying I have done well by my children.
Despite the wonderful outcome . . . and the fact that I wouldn't change what happened because it brought my children into my life . . . I continue to carry a terrible burden from this gynecologist. Furthermore, his lie about my ability to conceive was like the final, lifelong insult he committed upon me. In a sick sense, he managed to inseminate me anyway! It feels like he r* me again. I know my child is not a product of rape, but a sick part of me sometimes thinks of it that way. I feel horribly ashamed of this.
Part of me carries a deep anger that such an important decision about having children was ultimately taken away from me by my r*-ist.
So, after a lifetime of being violated, neglected, and emotionally abused, I was r* by a doctor. This established in me an unflinching belief in the cruelty of man. It also formed in me a terror of health care providers. This terror gradually increased over the years to the point that I couldn't be physically examined in any areas of my body that would be covered by a t-shirt and shorts without having a panic attack.
I was getting along this way in recent years, with my chronic health condition, by having a physician who didn't touch me. I just got the blood test I needed when I had to have it. I was able to tolerate that. But, now we have moved to a new city and I have had to establish with a new doctor. Furthermore, I have other women's health needs I have been ignoring. I decided to see a gynecologist who was recommended by a colleague. I work in a field that puts me in contact with doctors all the time, which means I got a recommendation from a colleague who is a doctor. (I didn't tell my colleague about my history or my anxiety.)
I decided to see a counselor to see if I could heal the wound related to the gynecologist r* and put the panic attacks behind me, to take care of my health in the way I'm supposed to, to do what I can to make sure I'm here for my children as long as I can be and to be as healthy as I can be.
The gynecologist who r* me, was arrested. He died while in jail awaiting trial. I was called to give a statement and did so. I was expected to be called to testify, but that never happened.