Braving My Fears and Seeing Doctors

We were both tired yesterday but it still was a nice day. Surprisingly, I was in a roll with work and put in a full day even though it was a Sunday. I slept fitfully again last night because I have the second attempt with the gyn exam this morning after the unsuccessful try in April (which was through no fault of my own). Saying I’m dreading it is a vast understatement. After putting it off for years and becoming paralyzingly phobic post-rape, it was difficult enough to mount enough mental strength to gear myself up and show up to the last appointment. Since that attempt went so poorly from a physical standpoint and I ended up experiencing a lot of pain, I’m even more scared and reluctant to put myself through it again. I give myself endless praise for braving it again and intending to get this done. I sure hope the specialist is able to conduct the exam and take care of my needs in the process. I’ve never met her before but she’s received glowing reviews. I’m inclined to think that she’ll be more than capable of accommodating her procedures to work with my challenges. With that said, I’m still nearly sick with nerves. I can’t wait until 10:30am or so when hopefully this will all be behind me.

It seems likely that any woman who’s experienced sexual trauma would dread gynecological exams, and unfortunately, statistics indicate such violations are disgustingly common. While efforts like the #metoo movement attempt to bring more awareness to the pervasiveness and diversity of sexual assault cases, the issue is still relatively taboo. The thing I’ve learned is that the long-term ramifications can be devastating and potentially impossible to shake. I’m a few years out and still grappling with the pain, anxiety, and anguish. Although I’m undoubtedly one of the most sensitive humans (and perhaps resultantly less “tough” and able to move on), it seems likely that all victims of sexual trauma and abuse would suffer lasting physiological or emotional consequences. There’s like a secret sisterhood of suffering: we all have the silent battles inside because few people talk about it or normalize it as a struggle that’s readily discussed. Shame, fear, and a desire to try to ignore it or forget it are all contributing factors that render many victims reluctant to speak out. Consequently, there’s a lot of isolation in the journey to heal and it’s a lonely, scary road. Someday, if I reach a safe enough place of healing, I’d like to be more of a public advocate and ally for other women going through this kind of struggle. I’m not sure what that would look like practically, but it seems like there would be a myriad of ways to make a difference, even if tiny.

I potentially have my colonoscopy and endoscopy tomorrow as well. I say “potentially” because I’m not sure it’s going to happen. It depends on how my exam goes. If it ends up going as disastrous as last time, I certainly won’t be able to because I physically incurred injuries that would disallow the procedure. While I hope that’s not the case, it’s also so overwhelming to imagine having to fast all day today, undergo the uncomfortable prep, and tolerate an invasive and stressful procedure tomorrow at the hospital. I think if I get through the gyn exam, I just need to take care of myself and recuperate, eating well and having fun. I also desperately need a good night of sleep and spending even more of it than normal out of bed and on the toilet sounds like a recipe to get yet more sick and place unaccommodatable stress on my body, something it can’t handle with my autoimmune conditions. I can already feel myself getting sick and inflamed. I had a fever this weekend, and that’s the first step in the downward spiral. As with most things, there are tradeoffs of pushing my body through the ordeal or delaying it yet again. In hindsight, it was idiotic planning on my part to schedule these two severely physically and emotionally taxing appointments on consecutive days. What was I thinking? It’s ridiculous how I still make such illogical choices. I should know myself better than this and make informed decisions based on my needs. It feels like a personal failure when I demonstrate this sort of lack of self-awareness. After my exam today, I’ll make a decision on tomorrow’s procedure. I’d like to say “it’ll be tough but I’ll get through it” but I’m just not sure it’s even wise; it largely depends on how I feel after the gynecologist. Right now, one thing at a time is the only strategy that I can handle, and I have to be okay with that and leaving tomorrow’s procedure status as “pending.”

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