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There’s the birth of my son as I wrote about it on my blog. Then there’s the rest of the story –
the significant complications involved with my labor and delivery, an experience that was so distressing it took me a couple years to be more open about it. And then there are deeper wells of feelings and hurts, which I haven’t even begun to mine yet.
This is to say that the birth of my son was traumatic – so much so that I haven’t gone to a doctor since my postpartum visit.
That’s not so bad, you might say.
My son is 3. That’s three well-woman exams I’ve missed. Three years of aches and minor illnesses and things I probably should’ve had checked out but didn't. And I’m old enough that I really should’ve had a mammogram by now. Maybe two.
Instead, I sucked up the pain, and I ignored myself. I treated myself like the pile of laundry in the corner of the bedroom that should be put away, but it's easier if I pretend I don't see it.
That’s no way to care for a body. And that’s definitely not the model I want to establish for my son (who has been taken to the doctor on a regular basis, just to be clear).
Still, the thought of going into a doctor’s office makes me want to cry. It’s such a vulnerable place to be. I can't even think about it without my limbs going cold and my heart beating rapid-fire. The very last place I want to be in this world is on an exam table with a virtual stranger inspecting the source of so much trauma.
Compounding the problem is that I switched insurance plans several months ago, and I haven't yet found a new doctor. I hate finding a new doctor. How do you even know if someone is good? The online reviews aren't always trustworthy – the doctor is either the worst in the business or the very best doc ever; there's never anything in between – and I've tried word-of-mouth over the years with some spectacularly awful results. And I'm a person who had the bar set very, very low for medical professionals.
I grew up with a revolving array of military doctors, who were often rough and had zero to little bedside manner. And so I became the kind of adult who didn’t care about finding a doctor who was affable or gentle, as long as she or he got the job done.
In addition to a good doctor, I need someone who will respect my reluctance. Someone who will be sensitive to my needs. That's a lot to ask for a little co-pay.
I posted about this on my Facebook page the other day, looking for doctor recommendations, and I was met with a post full of love and support, in addition to names and phone numbers of physicians. It was everything that social media is supposed to be.
I'm telling you this so I will hold myself accountable now, so that I will summon the courage to make an appointment and follow through with it. Because even if I can't do it for me, I should at least do it for the other people who love me.
But I'm also telling this story in case you are in a similar situation. Maybe you haven't been to the doctor for a long time because of some kind of trauma. Maybe you've made your own well-being the lowest priority. Maybe you are reluctant to be examined.
I see you. I support you. Let's do this.
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.