I'm nearly 40 weeks pregnant now, which means weekly doctor visits. Another crappy reality of these visits are frequent pelvic exams. Ugh. No one likes them but if you deal with PTSD from an assault or abuse they can be extra crappy.
For today's appointment my husband who always accompanies me was present but unfortunately so also was my two year old. Little kids don't mix well with the OBGYN department but life happens.
Knowing a cervical check was likely I kindly explained to the nurse that "While I'm sorry for the inconvenience of my child being present, I have PTSD and am only comfortable doing cervical exams with my husband next to me. As that is not going to work out today, I would like to skip the pelvic exam. Not having any signs of active labor, I feel safe in waiting at this time."
I was appalled to have the nurse tell me I didn't get a choice. Extra appalled when she pried about "What happened to me". Irritated when she was rude after I informed her I didn't wish to discuss it, and finally pissed and upset when she left and came back to "make sure I was taking my pants off." My husband was livid. I'm putting this mildly but she was very pushy and instead of letting me discuss options wit my OB was rudely insisting I have this exam. She got worse later, to me that kind of thing isn't cool.
Guess what, if I don't want someone putting their hands in my vagina, I get to say "NO!" However, it felt very violating to be told that I don't have said right, especially after explaining to said nurse that it's because someone else took advantage that I'm uncomfortable in the first place.
It gets better, so I'm sitting there, visibly upset, my husband trying to comfort me and not come unglued on said nurse, in walks the doctor. Seeing I was upset, he asked me what was wrong but because the nurse was present I didn't feel okay answering beyond "I'm fine, I just need a moment". To which the nurse flippantly replied for me "Oh she just doesn't want an exam today." Now, thankfully my OB is awesome. He was totally okay with skipping it today, he didn't pressure me or pull any of the bullshit his nurse did. The nurse had tried to bully me into having the exam without getting to discuss *not* having one with my OB. Who again, had no qualms with my desire to refuse.
I don't have too many lingering issues with past incidents now that I'm married, however people who aren't my husband touching me there, is something that can still give me a panic attack. When your exhausted, hormonal, and 40 weeks pregnant a panic attack is the last thing you need. It angered me a lot that this nurse lacked sensitivity training. It's been years since my incidents but my God what if it wasn't. If this was my experience and it was upsetting, (but I'm okay), how many this affect a person still coping with pain? If a person dealing with ungoing abuse had that nurse today, that could deeply affect their recovery.
My point in this post, aside from catharically talking about my experience today, is to share something with anyone else who's felt bullied like that. Pelvic exams become a part of life, which for some can be a trigger, I sat there feeling like I couldn't say no. When it's about your health or your pregnancy, I think it's easier to feel pressured. If you find yourself feeling like me remember this: "you are the patient, you have the right to refuse anything. You get to talk to your doctor and you, sure as your born, get to say "not today". No one gets to pressure you, not even an M.D."
To some this might sound really stupid and maybe it's odd for me to discuss here but it was important for me today, after feeling really powerless to remind myself and maybe someone in my shoes, that I can be mad and I can say "NO". Really simple thing but sometimes that reminder is a big deal.
I realize my language and description were a touch graphic but this was important for me to share. Thanks!
My laptop doesn't like the blog format lately so I typed all this on my phone. I've tried to edit the mistakes, typos, and issues. Sorry about that!