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Opinions of Saturday, 11 June 2016

Columnist: adventuresfrom.com

Living with fibroid

Since being diagnosed with fibroids 5 years ago, I have seen a total of 16 doctors.

16 being the number of every individual medical practitioner to have examined me whether for follow-up visits or surgery or ultrasounds. 16 doctors with probably half of them having touched my vagina at some point. I joke that my vagina has become public property and is no longer mine.

On a lighter note, does anyone else feel completely vulnerable in stirrups? I mean, if you are going to poke around my private part, can I be at least comfortable?

16 might seem a bit extreme but after 5 years, I suspect that for most doctors I am just another folder on their table. Couple this with some of the most chauvinistic things some of them have mentioned, at times I feel like a nuisance; an inconvenience. So I kept changing doctors.

Anytime I felt the least bit uncomfortable, I moved. Some reasons in hindsight were a tad silly. Once I switched hospitals because after the nurse took a blood sample, my arm swelled up. I panicked because the doctor had been too emphatic about surgery and this seemed to be a bad omen.

Another time, after I was rushed to a hospital after I suddenly started bleeding profusely at work, the doctor performed a Dilation and Curettage (D&C).

Immediately after this procedure, I found out that a friend of mine had a horror story from the same hospital. Coupled with some problems during and after my D&C, I never went back.

Other times though, I was not being silly. Like when I was scheduled for a laparoscopy in one of the general hospitals and the following traumatic experience happened. There were about 10 middle-aged women scheduled for the same procedure as me that morning, all of them old enough to be my mother. A fact which served to depress me as I sat with them waiting for the doctor.

Then, a nurse shows up with valium and instructs all of us to swallow. Not more than 10 minutes later, the first woman was called in. When it was my turn, I was panicking because the woman before me had been screaming whilst inside.

Note that I was a virgin at this point and I had been hoping to have been knocked out by the pill or at least with an anesthetic before the procedure begun. There was nothing like that.

Immediately after entering, the doctor in the gruffest voice asked me to change and lay on the bed. Then he proceeded to first insert the ultrasound wand for a scan. With me being as tense as I already was and a virgin, this was clearly not a good idea and the more he pushed, the more it hurt. The nurse sympathized with me. But the doctor, the doctor was a mean person. He proceeded to insult me. Worse of all, he said to me, ‘I am helping you. Is this how you will behave during sex? Your husband will leave you. Stop behaving like a child because I am helping you’. Needless to say, I refused to continue and he kicked me out.

There was also the doctor who said I was faking the pain. When pain cripples you and controls every aspect of your life, so much so that you have to be rushed to the hospital for doses of morphine so you can have some rest, the last thing you want to hear is a smug doctor calling you a fake.

Now, I am seeing two different doctors. The first one performed my myomectomy and I have stayed with him for over 2 years now. He listens. I am not a folder in front of him.

Yet, his approach is very conventional which means surgery and drugs till you have a baby and then a hysterectomy. So I started going to another clinic. One where a single visit means seeing the gynecologist, dietician and pain therapist.

One where the doctors understand that I want to heal myself for myself and not for future babies which I may or may not be interested in having. I want to be able to sleep without pain. I want to be able to wake up and go to work by myself and not because of painkillers. I want to have a normal menstrual cycle as opposed to bleeding for 3-4 weeks straight. I do not want to keep anticipating pain during sex. I want to manage the problem in a more holistic way and eventually if possible be healed.

Maybe if doctors are patients, they might understand. You might be overworked, understaffed and stressed, but for me as the patient, you are literally my savior.

When you make me the least bit uncomfortable or denigrate me, you scare me especially in a situation where I am already depressed. I am lucky in that I had the resources to move till I found someone I could work with. Most women don’t. But at 23, I have had enough traumatizing experiences to last me a lifetime.