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So I put off my physical for a bit too long, then it got canceled last year due to the pandemic. I'm a couple years into peri, and it's time for all those invasive tests, and probably my first boob squish. Since peaking, I'm a little afraid of all this gender nonsense affecting intimate care. I'm an abuse survivor, and it used to be there was a colored sticker put on the front of my paper chart that alerted the staff to that fact. Since the laws changed and forced all the clinics into electronic charts, they seemed to lose that flag and it's been tough. Although the one male GYN I saw was amazing for my emergency, I prefer all the nurses and techs to be women for this appointment. I have had flashbacks just getting my blood pressure checked, so I'm getting very anxious about even the intake!

Does anyone have any advice on how to go through this mine field now? How do you even go about making such a request when "abuse survivor" gets me shrugs now? Any magic words to use?

So I put off my physical for a bit too long, then it got canceled last year due to the pandemic. I'm a couple years into peri, and it's time for all those invasive tests, and probably my first boob squish. Since peaking, I'm a little afraid of all this gender nonsense affecting intimate care. I'm an abuse survivor, and it used to be there was a colored sticker put on the front of my paper chart that alerted the staff to that fact. Since the laws changed and forced all the clinics into electronic charts, they seemed to lose that flag and it's been tough. Although the one male GYN I saw was amazing for my emergency, I prefer all the nurses and techs to be women for this appointment. I have had flashbacks just getting my blood pressure checked, so I'm getting very anxious about even the intake! Does anyone have any advice on how to go through this mine field now? How do you even go about making such a request when "abuse survivor" gets me shrugs now? Any magic words to use?

14 comments

[–] TheEthicalHedonist 12 points (+12|-0) Edited

Have you officially been diagnosed with PTSD? Since that’s an actual diagnosis that can be put into your chart, and bolster the “abuse survivor” aspect, it may help.

Also, some solidarity. The first Pap smear I had scheduled after I left my abusive ex-husband was awful! The first (female) NP tried to sell me aromatherapy during the appointment and the second (also female) NP said “well, you don’t look like someone who has been abused!” after disclosing my history. Really? What does that look like, lady?

Tbh, my current gyno is a man and he is better than many of the women I’ve seen.

All you can do is advocate for yourself and don’t let them guilt you into anything that makes you uncomfortable.

Good luck!

[–] Galko [OP] 5 points (+5|-0)

Yup, PTSD and medicated for it, but it doesn't seem to "matter" now? Or at least nobody gave a sh!t the last appointment I had before I sorta skipped out... Thanks for the solidarity - that's actually the most helpful in the meantime!

Right, advocate for myself. Good advice. "No" is not a four letter word. Actually, I had a card I carried with me that explained PTSD if I was having an attack and couldn't speak, I could make a "hold up a second" type card to carry! Now there's a thought worth thinking about. Thanks!

[–] montanagraey 1 points (+1|-0)

That’s a really good idea. I’m glad you got some helpful solidarity for the time being and their response made your response inspire me. Thank you.

[–] montanagraey 11 points (+11|-0)

I literally just got off the phone with someone at a sleep clinic because I’m supposed to do an overnight sleep study and most of the techs are male and I was told that sometimes they come in while you’re sleeping to adjust wires on you and (with a similar abuse background) I pretty much just freaked the fuck out.

I wish I knew what to tell you but honestly I’m just here to commiserate (also I was about to make a post about it but it’s essentially the same issue so why duplicate?) and see if anyone has any advice.

I’m honestly surprised (which I’m guessing I shouldn’t be) that situations like ours aren’t addressed with Trauma Informed Care. This is awful.

[–] Tnetennba 5 points (+5|-0)

How could an overnight stay at a strange facility possibly give an accurate reading?? The vast majority of people have trouble sleeping somewhere new for the first time, not to mention all the shit you're hooked up to.

[–] montanagraey 1 points (+1|-0)

This is a fantastic question- I already have insomnia from the cPTSD so I have to take something every night to sleep in my own bed. I couldn’t get to the part where it asked if I’d be permitted to take something for the test because of the freak out. The test is for my oxygen levels; that’s my understanding at least.

[–] Galko [OP] 2 points (+2|-0)

Keep checking, hopefully we'll figure out this brave new world! Hang in there, I don't think I could do a sleep study at all. Yikes!

[–] Srfthrowaway 8 points (+8|-0)

They can flag your electronic chart. I would talk to the staff about doing that. Source: use a lot of electronic charts.

[–] Galko [OP] 4 points (+4|-0)

TIL - I've casually asked, but years ago. Definitely worth knowing this is actually a thing and I can press for it. Great info!

[–] Lee-Side_ 3 points (+3|-0)

Just FYI about the mammogram - I was surprised at how seriously uncomfortable it is, verging on painful. I have one every year (I'm that old now), and nice lady tech, but always pretty uncomfortable. Not a reason to skip it, but plan to do something nice for yourself afterward.

[–] Clotho 1 points (+1|-0)

Yes, it is so painful for me too. And as a pretty modest and private woman, it was uncomfortable to have to talk to another person, even a woman, literally holding my breast to put in the machine. Ugh. I hate it.

One thing to know is that you can put in your own speculum (any provider worth their salt should be fine with it.) Alternatively, you can tell them that you will let them know when you are ready to have it inserted. Breathe deep and exhale, trying (as best as possible) to relax your body. Ask them to tell you everything they are going to do before they do it. Ideally, they tell you and then pause and you get to say ‘ok, I’m ready’ each time.

Also know that if the provider is giving you weird energy or you are freaking out YOU DONT HAVE TO STAY. You are actually allowed to leave at any time. Just reminding yourself of that can be helpful. You are not trapped. Don’t let not wanting to it it weird of hurt the providers feelings more important than you are.

If you are a little woo, you can talk to your body before the appointment, telling it what you’re doing and why, that even tho it might be difficult, this is you taking care of your bodies health.

Try to schedule when you can take the rest of the day, and even the next day off of any serious commitments. Where you can make as many micro-decisions about what you want as possible, whether that’s eating ice creme, going for a walk, talking to a friend, whatever. But really let yourself choose these things. It helps reassert agency and that you aren’t ‘back there’. You get to make your own choices now.

[–] SamuraiGhostCat 2 points (+2|-0) Edited

Thanks for asking this, I’m totally going through the same thing (PTSD from sexual assault). To make it worse, I was also further traumatized by a male doctor at a pap exam when I specifically asked NOT to have a male doctor.

I’m so sorry you’re going through this. <3 I don’t have any advice besides telling them you have PTSD and want to only deal with female staff. They should definitely accommodate that. You aren’t alone though. <3 :(