Doctors and PTSD

13 07 2015

I didn’t used to mind going to the doctor. As a kid I was sick quite a lot, and learned that doctors were going to be a big part of my life from a pretty early age. Being sick seemed like it was going to be a big part of my life, so I thought that I should just get used to it.  My mother was always hovering about when I was there, with that vexed look upon her face. Worried that her premature child would prematurely die. I was never safe in her eyes. But all in all I didn’t mind it. I did trust my doctors for the most part, until I was 12 and my left eardrum ruptured, (for reasons that are still disputed), but probably happened when I was concussed at a pool party. Or due to having an inner and outer ear infection around the same times. The good Doctor looked at me as the culprit though, me and my use of q-tips, even though I knew I had only gone in the outer canal, not nearly deep enough. Trusting myself, despite the shame he tried to put upon me for “doing it to myself” I started to harbor resentment for that doctor and I don’t think I ever saw him again. We then had to go to a specialist an ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) doctor who was an ancient man with glass that would make Mr. Magoo’s look slim. We would wait in an empty waiting room for hours, only to see this man for five minutes.

Those five minutes were the most painful thing I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve broken my arm before. He would put a vacuum down my ear, to clean it he said, each time. And I would see debris leaving my body out of the clear tube. It was the noise the vacuum made that was horrible. I had to dig my hands into the chair and grit my teeth, when I wanted to scream. Thinking about it still makes me cringe.  It was terrifying, horrible, and after it was over he would look through a magnifying lens and baffle at why my eardrum was not healed. After around a year of doing this charade over and over, and me at the age of 12 seeing the bill and it was well over a hundred dollars, (we were not rich by any means.) I demanded that we get a second opinion. That and a trip to Schlitterbahn, where I had to wear a swim cap, and my father had the brilliant idea of putting silly putty in my outer canal (which melted down into my ear in the hot Texas sun) and I ended up screaming about how I had a migraine and NEEDED to leave immediately and yelled at my father for making me put silly putty in my ear, even when I said it was a bad idea….right so we left, and soon after I saw that bill, and so we went to a different doctor. This doctor informed me that it was roughly 2/3 or 3/4 of my eardrum was missing. Livid, but justified I told him immediately that I refused to go back to that one ENT that he was horrible and should retire, and that he had to have known or was too blind to do his job properly. There was only one other ENT that came once a week to our town from another, slightly larger town, and we saw him the following Monday. He promptly looked in my ear and said that I needed surgery. That doctor and then the one I had later in college restored my trust a bit in doctors.

Then I was raped.

And then I moved to Boston. Socialized medicine is great. Except I haven’t been able to find a good general practitioner, yet. I think I might be one rude receptionist away from finding one that will do, for now. Going to the doctor for me, in part means telling them about abuse in my past. That is part of my medical history, because of PTSD. I also have to tell them about my concussions and ear surgery to be sure, but that doesn’t bother me. What bother’s me is being weighed. And having to tell them about that time I was forced into a mental institution for 10 days against my will, where I was put on all kinds of medication and learned that I was allergic to haldol.

But the worst is Planned Parenthood. The people there are very friendly, they are the best. I love the planned parenthood staff. But every time I’m there I end up crying. I cry because their little chart of sexual consent and power dynamics… I wish I had seen something like that in high school, and I cry thinking about how different my life could have turned out had I known that feeling guilty after being intimate with some one was never ideal, then maybe I could have had the courage to break up with the boy who became my abusive husband. I cry because I’m terrified that I’ve some how managed to have a weird delayed detection STI that the stranger rapist gave me, or that I contracted in my black out drunk days. I cry sometimes simply because they ask me if I feel safe in my relationships, and again, I wish some one had done that long ago…And sometimes I cry because I can’t help but feel uncomfortable when a speculum is in my vagina and swabs and thing are going crazy, and I can’t help but think about how the stranger hurt more. I wish I could feel safe there. I want to, but something about stirrups and paper blankets that will never make me feel easy.