Radical Self Respect

In February my OB/GYN’s assistant emailed me that it’s time for a pap screening.  Yippee!  Just the thing all women want to hear.  Except last time I visited my lady doctor, it was a disaster.

God, through some scientists, developed this amazing thing called the Mirena IUD.  Most women use this as birth control, but I like it for an extra special reason.  NO PERIODS!! (Periods are from the devil)  It’s great because it just sits there in your body doing its thing.  You don’t have to remember to take a pill at the same time every day.  Every 5 years you get a new one and you’re good to go!

I really like(d) my gyno.  At first I was a little weirded out because he’s a dude, but he was so kind and professional I just got over it.  At my last appointment (when it was Mirena swapping time) he looked at my chart and with a little distress in his voice mentioned I had gained some weight since my last visit.  Yup, I had.  Not really surprised.  My mom had moved in with us and I was stress eating a lot.  It wasn’t that much though, maybe 10-15 lbs (which ok, on a normal person is a lot but on me you can’t really tell the difference).  He then proceeded with the exam and procedure, which ended up being the most painful thing I’ve experienced, next to drug-free childbirth.  I left feeling vulnerable and humiliated.  I was in so much pain I could barely walk, and by the time I got home was feeling really violated.  Like my friendly doctor had turned into a monster and tortured me for fun.

A lot has happened since the last time I saw the lady doctor.  I know I’ve gained more weight, and in the back of my mind I’m thinking “Hmmm…. how long has it been since my last appt?  I think I have to get that Mirena swapped out again soon… not really looking forward to that.”  It wasn’t even on my radar that I needed a pap screen.   Since I’m turning 40 they’ll finally let me have a mammogram so I know I need to schedule that, but lady doctor visit? Nah.

Until the assistant emailed me in February that it’s time to be violated screened again.

I tried ignoring the email.  I said to myself that it’d be a cold day in hell before I go back to that doctor again.  Plus, all my other screens have been normal so I’m probably fine this time too.  But then, my regular doctor emailed me a month later telling me the same thing.  Time to see the lady doc again!  Dang… these Kaiser doctors are persistent!  I mentally hit the IGNORE button.

Last month I got a recorded message saying “Make a friggin’ appointment why don’tcha??”  Ok, not really, but I did get a recorded message hounding me to come in for the pap screen.  I was starting to feel like someone over there must be really bored if they had all this time to devote to little ol’ me and my cervix!  And then I totally hung up and said “Nopity nope nope.  Not gonna do it.”

Two days ago a live person called.  I felt trapped.  I literally had nowhere to hide and I didn’t want to burden this poor assistant with why I didn’t want to come in.  So I made the appointment, and I’ve been dreading it ever since.

I decided to email Dr. Lady Bits about how I’m feeling.  He really is a good doctor, and I don’t want to go through the hassle of finding a new one.  So I put on my big girl panties and this is what I said:

 

I’m concerned about my upcoming visit for a pap test. The last time I saw you to have my IUD removed & replaced you commented that I had gained some weight since the last visit. It made me feel very vulnerable & insecure & like you would rather not have me as a patient. Whether it was because of my size making the procedure difficult or because of a subconscious attitude toward me, I left that visit in a lot of physical pain & feeling like I had been violated. I spent the rest of that day & 2 more curled up in bed it was so painful. I’ve known I needed this pap test since your assistant emailed 3 months ago but have been reluctant to schedule it because once again, I have gained weight & fear exposing myself to another traumatic visit. I know it can be difficult & unpleasant to work with someone my size. I feel great shame knowing how repulsed you must be. I’m telling you this because I think you are a good doctor & want you to understand the power of your words. Sincerely, Mrs. Sallygirl

 

That’s all I had room for.  They only give you 1000 characters.  There was some serious editing, and I had to use the “&” every time I would have just used the word “and”; which makes me feel so… teenaged and twitterspoken.  I wish I could have told him that he took an oath to do no harm, but he harmed me.  The way he treated me prevented me from seeking medical care that could potentially save my life.  I felt angry that because someone saw me as less than human (or at least made me feel that way), that I couldn’t get the medical care that we pay nearly $2k/month for.  I felt angry for myself, for others like me, and for other people who are not treated with dignity and respect (because they are the wrong race, or the wrong gender, or gay, or trans) because of someone’s prejudices.

And then I felt gratitude.

Because, I am surrounded by strong women who every day show me how to be brave and how to have radical self respect.  I took the lessons I learned from them and I applied it to myself.  I spoke up and took control of the situation, and I’m still going in for that blasted appointment.  I hope that when you encounter a situation like mine in your own life that you will remember that no one is better than anyone else and that you are just as worthy of the dignity and respect you give to others.

Rock on, my friends!

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