Canceling the Surgery & Caring for the Girl

Today I called to cancel the urogynecological surgery I had scheduled for December 11. Perhaps “postponed” is a better term, since I will eventually do the surgery, but I didn’t yet schedule a date. I’m tentatively thinking March or April.

When I said that, the receptionist wanted to know why I was canceling. “Actually I’d like to talk to the doctor about that,” I said. “if you would please ask her to call me.”

“Well,” she responded, in her usual imperial tone, “the doctor is in surgery today and tomorrow. She can call you later in the week.”

“Later in the week I’ll be in South America,” I told her, loving how the words sound. (I am very excited about this trip.) “Could I send her an email instead?”

“We don’t give out the doctor’s personal email,” said the body guard of the high priestess receptionist.

“Of course not,” I agreed, “But doesn’t she have a professional email?”

“No. Well, if you are a member of MLM insurance* and have an online account and health record, she can communicate with you that way.”

I rolled my eyes as I sat at the kitchen table, but my voice stayed neutral and polite, “Well, as you know, I have PHC insurance* and have an online account with them.”

She tells me they can’t use that service, which is interesting, since they not only accept PHC insurance but also have their offices in a PHC building across from the PHC hospital where the doctor performs surgery. “It’s fine,” I said. “I’ll send her a letter. Thank you so much.”

1967 5 Terri Nursery SchoolOver the weekend, I realized it’s the littlest girl, the one who is maybe four years old, who was so frightened by last Thursday’s gynecology appointment. She experienced something like that, something painful inside her and someone touching her while sitting in front of her. She doesn’t need to be subjected to anything like that anymore. And as her wise, grown-up self, it’s my job to protect her.

I think I will make my letter to the doctor simple. I will simply tell her that I found the bladder study very triggering and that as a sexual abuse survivor, I need to slow things down, inform myself better of what to expect, and put things into place to ensure my psychological safety through a process that has a lot of potential to send me into a tail spin. I may add that I am somewhat disappointed that her office asked about a history of sexual abuse in her initial questionnaire, but then never brought it up as potentially relevant to the situation. I would like us to talk about this together when I get back from my trip. At the same time, I recognize that it is above all my responsibility, not hers, to take care of myself, and that is why I’ve decided to postpone the surgery.

Ultimately, I think these are the things I would like to see happen:

  • some acknowledgement from the doctor that this is important and worth attending to (if she is dismissive, then I will look for a different surgeon)
  • some basic discussion of what was and in the future could be a trigger for me
  • a conversation about how we will proceed, going slower and attending to my emotional state along the way
  • a detailed account of what to expect in the hospital, during and after surgery, as well as in follow-up appointments
  • time to make a plan with E., my husband, and the doctor, including a plan for how I might also get the floor nurses to accommodate my needs

In other words: I want to proactively protect and support the triggered little girl. I will not proceed as usual, paralyzed and compliant because I feel it is the expectation and then punishing myself for being “complicit” in a new traumatic experience. Yay! I can now almost see that horrible appointment as a good experience, because processing it has pushed me to a higher level of self-care.

*** * *** * *** * *** * *** * ***

*totally random, made-up insurance names: Make a Lot of Money (MLM) and Profit Health Corporation (PHC). But I swear I’m not a cynic.

P.S. Yes, the photo is really me. So I kind of hope none of you went to preschool with me. I still value my anonymity on this blog; it makes it easier to write about my reactions to catheters.


  1. Sorry if I offend any receptionists but they are so fucking annoying sometimes when they block all normal modes of communication. Also, so stoked to hear you postponed surgery. It’s a huge learning experience for me, to read about your process. I would have just gotten it over with but kicked myself in the end. That friend of yours is a blessing!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. GOOD for you for self care! You are putting your needs first! As far as the receptionist goes, they are the most un-empathetic human beings I have ever met.. I also have experienced receptionist who just have no empathy or care for anything …. but good for you for standing your ground in the phone call and putting your needs first.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I found the receptionist really frustrating… but to be fair, she probably feels more allegiance to the doctor, whom she sees most days, than to the actual “customers,” each of whom she sees only a few times. So it probably warps her sense of who matters. We’ll see if a letter works. Thanks for your encouragement. It feels good to do it the way I need to do it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You were adorable when you were little. I don’t know how somebody could have hurt that precious little girl.

    I have had that happen so many times with receptionists totally blocking access to a doctor. It makes me crazy.

    I am really proud of you for this decision you made about your surgery. I think your bullet points are right on.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. All four-year-olds are adorable, don’t you think? I think there is something missing in the people who hurt them, something that can’t realize these small people are complex human beings, not instruments of pleasure or objects on which to express frustration.

    Thank you! I feel very pleased with this decision and excited to be doing something positive for my own well-being.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. You are so inspiring!! I am so impressed with how you are standing up for yourself, and the little girl, and not letting what happened drop – it is important that you are heard, and I am so glad you are going to be expressing your needs. Amazing work here. I am so proud of you.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Good on you! You’ve got every right to do what you’ve done. I can’t believe they ask about sexual abuse and then don’t even bring it up. Sort of defeats the purpose. You should absolutely look for another doctor if she doesn’t respect your feelings about this, although I’d be surprised if she didn’t.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Glad you stood up for your overall health and I hope that your MD is empathetic and reaches out to collaborate with you. Honestly, it is not every day that a MD receives a personal letter from a patient so I hope that effort on your part does not go unnoticed. You are amazing!


  8. Well, I think you did the right thing. You are being protective of the triggered parts of you. It stands to reason that you would be and should be so well done you. Cant believe that receptionist! She sounded so uncaring. XX

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sounds like a solid decision, made with thoughtfulness and care towards your inner girl. Brava! I hope now that your decision is made you can fully relax and enjoy your holiday. ❤


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