A Feminine Question

My mother was roughly the age I am now when she developed uterine cancer.  She survived fine with a partial hysterectomy, but it’s still a bit worrisome to think of.  In spite of that, my last PAP smear was 10 years ago.  I cannot bring myself even to make an appointment for the bloody test.  I found a clinic and dialed the number once, and that sent me in to a full-on panic attack, complete with shakes, sweats, and dizziness.  Not fun.

Time for a little from the too much information file– my periods have been incredibly irregular lately.  Considering I can usually count 28 days ahead and know exactly when the next will start, the irregular bit is bothering me, as is the slight pain in my right breast that has been there for about a year now.  The sensible, adult thing to do, then, is go to an OB-GYN and get a look over.  I can *not* seem to take that step, though.  I know I need to have the test.  It just feels like a violation. It feels like that word I still can’t bring myself to say.

For those of you who are female survivors of sexual assault, regardless of your age at the time, how do you cope with tests like this one?  Gynaecological exams overall?  I’d really appreciate any advice you can offer.  Please feel free to email me as well if you aren’t comfortable replying on the blog.  Thanks very much.

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7 thoughts on “A Feminine Question

  1. After 2 abnormal results and 1 biopsy…it’s become a huge ‘deal’ for me. I really put it off this past year (finally got it done though). My doc is aware of one of my ‘incidents’ but I’m not really happy with her (for number of reasons) so if I go back to the one that did my biopsy I will let her know my history (my regular doc treats my whole family so that’s why I haven’t told her the whole thing). My regular doctor tells me though, before she does anything. Helps a little bit. I considered trying music, someone else suggested books on tape, I know someone else that takes a e-book reader, but for me that’s too much like being ‘distracted’ during abuse so haven’t tried anything like that yet.

    I was reading about someone else who told the parts of her that were uncomfortable about going to the doctor & child parts that they didn’t have to ‘go’ and if they didn’t show up during the appointment they could get a treat after. I have a problem with that happening sometimes so,I might have to try that. Kind of a different thing though.

    Thinking of you (sometimes just thinking of all the people that are/will be send best wishes helps me too), hope you can find something that works for you.

    • MeMyself&Who (great screen name, btw!)– You’re very brave and have been able to overcome quite alot to get through those exams, and especially to have been able to talk to the doctors about your history, even if only in part. I can certainly see why wouldn’t want to talk with your family doctor about the lot of it.

      I can relate to the bit about feeling like you’re being ‘distracted.’ Made me skin crawl to think of it. You’re spot on, I’m guessing, about talking with the insiders and working out a system (ha, ha) for people who can attend the exam. We did that with my mother during certain medical tests as well. Worked quite nicely.

      Hope the biopsy was negative, and here’s to your continued good health!

    • Else– we definitely do what we have to do to get through things like this. If spacing out works for you, in my opinion, that’s just fine. Take care of yourself!

  2. I am not female, but I can relate to what you write. My mother had colon cancer so I am due for my first colonoscopy. I cancelled it about 3 times. My physical exam I had several months ago, I was not prepared for. It was a huge trigger. Mostly I think it was a trigger because I didn’t expect it. If you can set it up so that you have some support after (like a therapy appointment), then maybe it will be easier. Just a thought.

    Paul

    • Paul– My apologies for specifying gender. I appreciate the thoughts of *anyone* who can help on this topic.

      I have to know step-by-step what the doctors are/are going to do to me. I like the idea of setting up a therapy session soon after and will talk to my therapist about that. Thanks for the tip! Wishing you strength for the colonoscopy.

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