I finally got to talk to my gynecological surgeon today. We’d played phone tag for a while but actually set a time to talk at lunch today. She called me, and though I stumbled over the words at the beginning, I finally was able to spit out, “As a sexual abuse survivor, I found that bladder study enormously disturbing. It set me off, and I realized that I needed to slow things down. I need time to know what exactly is going to happen to me before, during and after the surgery, so I can make sure I’m psychologically safe through this whole process.”
She asked me whether I had someone helping me with the psychological side of things.
“Yes, I do. And she and I have talked about this. I don’t expect you to provide me with psychological care, but I do need enough time and information so she and I can put a plan together.”
She agreed right away and suggested that we schedule an appointment with both her and her nurse ahead of time. Her nurse has also worked in post-op and knows the details of how things work there. We can do that soon, way in advance of the surgery, which we will reschedule for March or April.
A bit later I said to her, “Your intake forms ask about a history of sexual abuse. I know it’s ultimately my responsibility to speak up about my needs, but by asking, you imply that this matters to you. And yet you never bring it up in our appointments.”
“Yeah, that’s such a tough one. We see a lot of women here who have experienced abuse, and they vary so much in how they want to deal with it. Some say they don’t want to talk about it at all, that I should just fix their problem and that’s it,” she told me.
“Right, I can see that,” I replied. “But asking on the form and then never bringing it up gives the message that you don’t really care after all. It puts all the responsibility on us to bring it up, and that can be really hard, too. What if you just said something neutral like, ‘I see you checked this box on the paperwork. Is there anything we should talk about or especially attend to as we work together?’ or something to that effect?”
She liked that idea. We talked a bit more, and she thanked me for providing her the feedback. “We really want our medical practice to be in the service of women’s quality of life,” she said.
So I’m relieved; she and her nurse are willing to work with me to make this process easier. But mostly I feel proud of taking care of that littlest girl. It’s one of those little triumphs that help boost my confidence that I’m able to love and care for her/myself.
That should shut up Anxiety for a little while!