I survived my first female exam ever.

Standard

This may not seem important (and if it’s TMI, skip reading this post), but I’ve been dreading this exam for years. I have a strong aversion to anything being put inside my body, through any orifice at all, that doesn’t belong there. People used to have to get throat cultures off of me by waiting until I started screaming and then swabbing me. Proctologists (and, worse, having impacted stool broken up by hand) were a nightmare. I once threw someone across a room for trying to put a tube up my nose. I have not been looking forward to this, to put it mildly.

My case manager scheduled the exam to be an hour long (longer than usual, because it was my first time there and I’m known to do things like kick people who try to get into various body parts), and to start at 9:20. They were told we’d be a little late because my morning staff is taking a class. We got there at 9:30.

As soon as we walked in the door, the receptionist was sternly telling us we were too late for the appointment and would have to reschedule (this was strange and unusual, because we’d already made clear we’d be late, and so forth). They spent a further ten minutes in some amount of flurry. They talked to my staff, and not me, telling her we had to get out of there and come back another time.

It turned out the person scheduling (probably the woman who was most defensive and hostile to us) appears to have screwed up in a major way. They said we were supposed to be there at 9:10. They further had only scheduled me for 45 minutes, not an hour. And seemed to be implying that we didn’t know what we were talking about when we said 9:20 and an hour.

They wasted a bunch of time on that, and then tried to blame us for the time they lost arguing about that (pretending we only got there after we argued about it, etc). My staff is now very pissed off, because she said she’s never experienced that even when very much more late for these things, and she said she was pretty sure if I wasn’t disabled they’d have made room without a fuss.

The gynecologist herself though was very nice, and totally not bothered by a number of my less pleasant actions (including screaming really loud at the door), nor all that ruffled when I answered a question with something like “Uh, I was in an isolation room, I wasn’t paying attention to my migraine auras at that point in time”. We told her, I’ve been steeling myself for this for weeks and am not going to leave without doing the exam, basically. We told her about the scheduling screwup.

She did work my exam in, in between other patients. She showed me my parts in a mirror, which was kind of strange-looking, and reassured me that they were normal, which I wasn’t too worried about to begin with. I managed not to kick her during the exam (I concentrated all my energy on moving my legs downward, not at her, which got interesting when she then wanted me to “relax my legs”, I was thinking “Are you sure you want me to do that?”). Although my staff said I nearly broke her finger squeezing it. I made a fair bit of noise and flapped a lot but I got through it.

She said nothing seemed at all wrong down there from what she could see. She’s ordering blood tests for a number of things that either run in my family, or I’ve had problems with before (diabetes, anemia, cholesterol, etc). And of course she (like plenty of other people) is interested in re-testing my hormones because of my facial hair. (I know some people online have decided it’s high testosterone — I’ve been tested before, I did not have high testosterone or similar things then, and I’ve had facial hair of one sort or another since I was a kid. Hairiness is one tiny but externally obvious part of a genetic thing I probably have.)

So… I’m through.

That may not seem like a lot, especially to women who’ve had a lot of these before and also had babies and stuff, but it feels like a lot, since it’s new to me, I didn’t kick her (!), and I’ve been dreading this forever. I am now sore in places I was happily unaware I had until now, but it’s over.

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Physically and cognitively disabled. Anything you hear in the media or gossip is likely to be oversimplified at best and wildly inaccurate at worst, the only way to get to know me is to actually know me. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died a couple years ago and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

16 responses »

  1. I HATE those things, and I’ve had 2 kids. I avoid them if at all possible. Good for you, though. It’s a big deal.

  2. was worried for you about this today. so glad you ‘survived’ it (figured you would, but still…)

    i was really scared and … reactive? … when i had my first one, too. and horrified that i have to have it yearly to get birthcontrol. have now survived 2 of them but still don’t like it one bit.

    PS: my obgyn was nice about my AS ‘issues’, too. although apparently many -even normal- women freak about at least some of the same things.

  3. Congrats for getting it over with. I hate those. The worst was going to a doctor who ‘pampered’ clients with soft music, coffee and a fancy dressing room, it was too creepy. I found a lady doc who is really matter of fact, it’s like having your tonsils examined; she doesn’t make it a big deal. It’s easier for me to deal with someone like that in that situation.

  4. Mom had one of those recently, and afterwards was crying because it triggered her about sexual abuse. She was trying to explain to me some complicated stuff about her psychology that she didn’t completely understand herself, and apologized for not explaining it well. I responded “It’s your psychology, it can be as confused as it needs to be.”

  5. Thrilled to hear that the doctor herself was decent and professional to you, even if the office staff were not. There’s nothing worse than being feet-in-stirrups and THEN realizing that the doctor is having a bad day (or a bad career). And yeah, it’s over. Glad you lived to tell the tale.

  6. Hmm. Proctologists. I’m well over 50 years old, and really, rationally, ought to get one of those colonoscopies. BCBS will pay for it, I’ve just avoided it for no actual rational reason. I mean, they knock you out for it, and all…

    I reckon it’s not so much a sensory issue for me, as a privacy issue. Does that make any sense to y’all?

  7. Yup, not a pleasant experience. I avoid anything of the kind because I seriously object to the medicaiztion of women’s body parts and all the garbage and scare tactics about cancer. I had home births and never went to a gynocologist for anything. I do not do breast exams or anything else of that nature.

    That comment about soft music and coffee does sound very creepy. In fact it sounds like some doctor’s fantasy life was being played out.

    I agree about the privacy issue. They can keep their hands to themselves.

  8. You have to do whatever makes you feel comfortable. We are all responsible for our own health. I simply meant that I have certain convictions about the causes of disease and I believe that much of it is self-generated. I too have had family members die from cancer. However, I have different ideas than many about how that cancer or other illness was caused. The mind does more than many of us are consciously aware of.

  9. I have not had family members die from cancer, they got it caught early enough from GYN exams to have it removed with no lasting ill effects. I’d think if it were caused by themselves somehow (which sounds very close to things I’ve heard from psychoanalysts and new-agers that blame people for their own fate, and I don’t buy it except that stress makes people slightly more predisposed to certain things, which still isn’t “doing it to yourself”) they’d have grown it back once it was removed, but they didn’t. This isn’t about making me feel comfortable (more useless therapy-talk that has no point in my life), it’s about keeping myself alive in the same manner that family members successfully kept themselves alive.

    The philosophy that says that most people cause their own diseases, even subconsciously, tends to be related to people really wanting some way to think they have more control than they actually have over whether they’re healthy or not. The same way that orthorexia does. It’s a dangerous philosophy given what it means for people who actually have the diseases, and how others will view them. And it’s a classic blame-the-victim scenario, with a few twists added here and there for the possiblity of their “subconscious” being to blame. I want no part in it, and I’d appreciate you keeping your philosophies off of my mother’s and grandmother’s bodies and minds, at least on my blog. They frankly sound far more dangerous than flat-out medicalization.

  10. I meant no offense. I expressed a deeply held conviction, not an idea I came to over night, but one gathered through 25 years of study and reflection. I am sorry I upset you.

  11. Those exams definitely aren’t pleasant; I ended up having a pretty bad meltdown during my first attempt to go through with the appointment, to the point where the gynecologist told me to come back in a year or so, once I’d “gotten myself together”. But I did succeed in returning, and have been getting exams on schedule ever since. I think it’s definitely better to know about a problem like potential cancer as soon as possible, so it can be addressed; I also have a family history that would make it very unwise for me to skip exams.

    And as far as “mind-caused illnesses” go, yes, a more relaxed state of mind probably helps with stuff like stress headaches and heart rate, but it certainly can’t ward off something like cancer, particularly if one has a genetic predisposition to a particular kind of cancer. Just because some variations are sometimes pathologized it doesn’t mean that there’s no use for actual, tried-and-true medicine and preventative strategies — especially in the case of things that can actually kill you, like cancer.

  12. Yeah. Stress makes a person somewhat more predisposed to certain things (which are still not caused by stress). Bad habits like smoking make a person more predisposed to certain things. The rest of things can’t be remotely said to be caused by a person.

    In fact, research has been showing, that the vast majority of stuff previously considered psychosomatic, actually has identifiable organic causes, rather than just the mind affecting the body in organic ways. (For instance, ulcers, which are caused by a certain kind of bacteria. And some forms of cancer are caused by viruses, for that matter.)

    It’s been my finding over the course of over 25 years that shit happens, and that most physical illness is a case in point. The sort of philosophy being discussed here is a modern, more fashionable outgrowth of the old belief that illness and disability was caused by sin on the part of either the person or their parents. It doesn’t impress me as wisdom any more when it’s dressed up in fancy modern clothing, than when it was dressed up in medieval clothing. It strikes me as very much akin to the sort of philosophy I was talking about in a previous post, where people find things they acquire from a combination of privilege and good fortune (including good health) to be based on either God’s love for them or their own virtue — and the flipside, where if they do not have those things, it must be because of some shortcoming of their own or disfavor from some deity. Which, given the things I’ve seen in life, is an obviously and utterly toxic philosophy in all its guises.

  13. Amanda, wow, that is great that you got through that. I say this because I cancelled an appointment I had for next week for the gyn doc. The doc came highly recommended from a friend who does have PTSD issues re: childhood sexual abuse. I do not have this issue, but doctor stuff freaks me out. I think it’s a powerful thing you did going through with the appointment, because if the front desk assho…I mean staff had been jerky to me like that I’d rather not be a patient there. But you remind me I’m risking my life, truly. My problem is I just had a mammogram at the same practice where I’m supposed to go for the exam. But the mammographer chick was an ass. First she wants me to sign some paper I hadn’t read and that wasn’t filled out, so they could get my other records. When I asked to fill it out/read it, she sighed loudly and scribble filled it out. Then she proceeded to mash my breasts and be totally unfriendly.

    Seems like every freaking time I go to the doctor, people are unprofessional or unfriendly. I started to think maybe it was something I did, an attitude I unknowingly was putting out there. Years ago, even, I was diagnosed with social phobia. You know, medical phobia, in my case is a lie, because a phobia by definition, has to be irrational. Eek, there’s more to it, but that’s enough for now. BTW, I used to chat on #autfriends a little. I used my nick in case you’d remember it at all. I’m truly not offended if you don’t :)

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