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Friday, October 24, 2008

Seriously, I really don't spend every moment of my day feeling sorry for myself.

Today I had my first medical exam in eight years. 

After Tabitha was born, my anxiety about physicals had increased to the point where I just couldn't go anymore. I felt terrible guilt, because you know we females are supposed to get "checked" annually--which means a breast exam, weight, general physical, internal vaginal exam and pap smear. All things which cause me incredible stress. I went back when Tabitha was five--to alleviate the guilt--and have not been back since.

But since I'm a million years old, it's a good idea for me to have an exam. So last month while Adam pitched his fit about having to get shots at his physical, I walked to the reception area and scheduled my appointment. It's not unusual for me to schedule appointments. It's just unusual for me to actually keep them. I told Therapist I wasn't canceling this one--and I didn't.

On the mountain of paperwork, I wrote a note on the "Other" section. I said: 

Dear Doctor-person-who-will-be-touching-me-in-a-few-moments, 
I have PTSD. Please talk with me about this before the exam takes place. 

So--Nurse checked me in and told me my weight was delightful and mentioned I've grown a quarter of an inch since my last exam--she measured me twice. I've been a solid 5-feet, 2-inches since my Freshman year of high school. I have no idea where the extra growth came from . Then Nurse checked my birthdate and mentioned she'd never known anyone to grow when they were a million years old. Then she said I didn't look a million years old. Nurse is very nice (cute, too! Yay!). Then Nurse took my blood pressure. And she took it again. And she looked alarmed.

Nurse asked if high blood pressure is present in my family. It is. So she asked what mine normally is. I told her 128 over 74. Today it was 164 over 110. So I confessed to being more nervous that I should be, and also confessed to wanting to throw up. I explained my situation and she said, "Well, I'll take your blood pressure again after the exam. It should be lower then." I tried to tell her it wouldn't be, but she was sure.

So Doctor came to see me. And we talked. And I told him about my past in four sentences.
1. I have PTSD.
2. This is because when I was eleven, an older cousin raped me repeatedly over a period of three months.
3. I haven't been able to have an exam because as I've gotten older my stress has increased to the point where I could no longer block it out nor tolerate it.
4. I'm currently in therapy and know I need to have an exam and I think I can do it today but I'm really, really, really terrified.

Doctor asked me what terrifies me. I told him that this is a logical trigger for a flashback. He asked what happens when I have a flashback. I explained that probably all he'd see was me shaking uncontrollably and I might yell. He said he though he could help me through that--but he had that deer-in-the-headlights look. 

So Doctor left and I took off my clothes and put on the paper gown thingies. He came in and did a breast exam (minor flashback with mild nausea and tremors), then he did a pap smear (big flashback, but still only minor tremors), and a vaginal exam (no flashback). Then he told me I was very healthy, and said I'll have the pap smear results in two weeks--and I could get dressed.

Nurse and Doctor left the room and I dressed as fast as I could (and folded the silly paper gown thingies--really--why???), then I sat in the chair and cried. Nurse came back (during a lull in the crying--thank goodness) and took my blood pressure again. 174 over 118. She looked alarmed and said if I had any headaches that wouldn't go away or felt other symptoms which I can't remember now, to be sure to call the office or go to the emergency room. I smiled and told her I would.

And then I got in my car and cried all the way home. I texted a couple of friends, thinking if I talked about the weather with them I might gain some composure. But they were busy and didn't reply. It's just as well, really. I couldn't have talked to them. I lose the power of speech when I'm sobbing. And I would have felt more stupid. Honestly--who cries over a routine physical??? I'm pathetic beyond belief. 

So, here I am blogging. Because I have to get this out somehow. 

And I think I should probably be celebrating, because I did it! But I still can't stop crying. And it sucks.


  1. Oh, Sam! I'm sorry you have to go through all of that. That sounds really terrible. But it sounds like you handled it amazingly well.

  2. Kudos to you for keeping the exam! I'm proud of you. :)

  3. I'm glad you kept the appointment, that's a big thing. Would a female doctor make the experience any easier?

  4. I'm so proud of you! For reals. You are so brave!

  5. Oh wow! Good freaking job! I'm very impressed you did that, and I'm really sorry it made you cry. That's definitely not pathetic though. Seriously, good job.

  6. Those are unpleasant at the best of times. In your situation--wow. That would be awful. I'm proud of you for doing it.