THAT Exam

My doctor has suggested it.  My therapist has suggested it.  My psychiatrist– if he were so inclined– would probably suggest it, too.  When she was just a bit older than me, my mother went in for a routine pap test and found that pre-cancerous cells were forming in her uterine lining.  Now, I need to get a bloody pap test, and I cannot seem to even schedule the appointment.

For those of you who don’t know, pap tests involve using a speculum to expand the vaginal opening so that the doctor can see the lining of the cervix.  Then, cells are brushed off into a specimen jar.  To end the exam, the doctor inserts two fingers in the vagina and presses on the lower pelvic area to feel for the size, shape, and location of reproductive organs.  ‘Written out’ it seems fairly innocuous.  Why, then, have I had to pause this post to go and be sick?

For me, the panic starts when I have to lay my head back.  At that point, I can’t *see* the person touching me.  As I was often tied up and blind-folded during sexual trauma, this is terrifying for me.  I don’t want to lie there with my head back unable to see this person who, at that point, will feel all-powerful to me.  That utter lack of control makes me physically ill.  I don’t want anyone even thinking about that area of my body, much less concentrating on it and even touching it.

Logically, I know this is a very simple medical procedure that will be performed by a female physician who has probably done thousands of these.  I know it only takes a few minutes and isn’t likely to cause me a great deal of pain.  Yet I cannot bring myself to even set the appointment.

Any strategies, dear readers?  I know this is incredibly common amongst women with sexual trauma histories.  What has helped you through?  Thanks in advance.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “THAT Exam

  1. Here, the table can be adjusted so that you can see the person. Part of them will be blocked behind the “modesty” drape you are given, but you can also opt to lower that a bit. I think it is best to let the doctor know that you have been abused and ask her to tell you exactly what she is going to do right before and as she does it. I know it helps me to hear it and to understand it. That way there are no “surprises”. You can also bring a trusted friend into the room with you. She can hold your hand or just be there for emotional support.

    You can do this.

    • Thanks so much for your comment and your suggestions. I like the idea of adjusting the table to see her a bit. After I told her about the sexual trauma, she went through exactly what the exam would be like, even taking out the instruments to show me. That was very helpful. Still haven’t been able to have the exam, but I’m hoping to work up to it soon. Thanks again.

      • I hope that helps. I know you can get through this. You have already been through so much worse and survived…and those events were aimed at hurting you. This one is aimed at helping you. 🙂 You go, girl!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s