It’s probably a big ball of fun to read while I talk about my pelvic exam. 🙂 Be warned that there may be triggers about the exam and/or CSA.
I think the most positive thing that could be said about the exam is that I survived, which I suppose was a given. I reacted horribly, though. I somehow managed to sleep a few hours the night before. I even managed to stay calm while they took my blood pressure so perhaps they wouldn’t have a clue how terrified I was, however that plan was foiled as soon as I had to undress.
While I sat there, waiting on the exam table, I kept tearing up and my whole body was shaking with fear. I would’ve doubted the severity of my shaking if the paper on the table didn’t crinkle as I shook. I knew I was scared, but I honestly did not expect to end up a quivering mess. When the doctor and her nurse walked in, she asked how I was doing, and I just dove in and told her that she should know about my abuse, so I was terrified for the exam. My voice was raspy and I spit the words out quickly so I wouldn’t have a chance to hold back. I knew I needed to explain my reaction to all of this. She thanked me for telling her and said she’d go slow and tell me everything she was doing. As I laid there, I was still shaking and crying. She checked in with me several times throughout the exam to ask if I was OK. Of course, I wasn’t, not in the least, but I said I was just so we could get through it.
After she was done and they left the room, I lost it for a couple of minutes. When she walked back in to talk to me alone, she asked if I was dealing with the past abuse with my T (who is actually a friend of hers). I told her I was, so she asked if I felt like it was helping me. I just said it’s a process that’s taking a long time. So she attempted to engage in some chit-chat with me which was only mildly successful, but it’s not her fault whatsoever. I cried for half an hour after the appointment and ended up in tears several times throughout the rest of the day. I was so grateful that there wasn’t a need for anyone to have direct contact with me at physical therapy later that day, because I’m not sure I could have tolerated it.
I was slightly amused, though, after I looked online at my electronic medical record and saw that “anxiety disorder” had been added to my diagnoses, of which there are already several. Wonderful. I at least feel fortunate that I didn’t end up in a flashback. I didn’t even dissociate during the exam, although I honestly wish I had. I did end up dissociated for the rest of the day, though. After the fact, I feel completely embarrassed about my reaction, and although I try to put it into perspective, I’m having trouble. I just keep thinking that her and her nurse must think I’m a complete baby.
I’ve tried to think about where all of the tears came from. I didn’t have any memories, at least visual memories, crop up during the exam, and there was nothing distinct that was an obvious cause for my reaction. I finally realized today that it was my sense of disgust that was the trigger. It’s a gigantic trigger. I can feel that there were other triggers, but seeing as the exam itself is fuzzy in my mind (I wonder if I did dissociate), it’s hard to pinpoint those. But after the exam, looking at my own body became a trigger (granted, in some ways it already was, but this is a different one). The color of my socks became a trigger. Is it possible that I was truly that traumatized by the exam that I have new triggers now? My doctor was as kind and as gentle as she could be..there is nothing about it that seems to warrant my reaction.
When I asked my T if she thought I was overreacting, she said that there is no such thing as overreacting in this situation, there is just reacting. She said that I’ve only ever had that kind of experience in one other way, which was abusive, so my reaction is completely understandable. I asked her if it was crazy that I honestly feel traumatized from it, and she said that was understandable, too. I told her that part of me felt like I was going back home, going back to my father, and maybe it was that part that was shaking so badly. She said yes, and then also pointed out that the body remembers, too. She explained that it takes many experiences to allow the body to learn something different from what it’s always known. She asked if I wouldn’t mind sharing who my doctor is, and when I told her, she did acknowledge that she knows her. It was sweet, I thought, because she asked again if my doctor handled things OK and she had this look on her face that said she wouldn’t have hesitated to bring it up to her if she didn’t. I was touched.
She then said that I may not think of it this way, but this is yet another piece of evidence that something really did happen. I said that the thought had occurred to me but that, of course, I thought of how I could still be making it up. We both smiled, and I said, “Classic me! Any theories as to what my explanation is this time?” We both knew she wouldn’t venture down that road, so I told her that I’ve convinced myself, or a part of myself, that I forced myself into have those reactions. T said it would be a pretty amazing feat if I could do that. She said that there’s a reason why I put this off for years and why I even postponed my last appointment by a month just out of fear. That I wouldn’t have avoided it so hard for so long if there wasn’t a reason.
We sort of switched gears for a short while and talked about my father and how he’s been verbally abusive toward everyone, including his employees, since I cut off contact with him last October. I told T that I feel guilty because I am the reason he’s being so horrible to them. She said that he’s an adult and although me cutting off contact and his actions towards his employees coincide, it doesn’t mean I am responsible for his actions. But I told her that I am responsible – someone has to be, because he sure doesn’t take responsibility for his actions.
I got to a point where I was just sitting there, hating myself. T asked if I could turn the hate outward, and I said maybe just a sliver. I said that my father ruined my life and ruined me, and things that should be normal aren’t normal, like the exam. It should be normal, and it’s not. T sat with me for a minute and then quietly brought up the diagnosis of the anxiety disorder, since I’d told her about it earlier. We’ve never discussed a diagnosis for me, ever, although I’ve pretty much known what it would be. But my suspicions were confirmed when she said that my doctor was wrong in her diagnosis – that she should have put PTSD. I just cried a bit more and told her how messed up I am. But oddly, the timing was right for her to explicitly say what it is I’ve been dealing with. I can suspect all I want, but hearing it from her validates it all the more and allows me to try to accept all of my reactions, or lack thereof.
I wish I’d been able to feel more in her office; I wish I could have allowed myself to do that. Because sitting here with this grief is scary and lonely.