I have a lot of decisions to make regarding my overall longterm health this year. Ive come to a point where what ive been doing is no longer working and i have to make a decision on whether i want to begin taking a medication that could shorten my life, undergo a surgical procedure that could shorten my life, or do nothing and maybe keep all the years but not have the kidneys to support me through those years because of long term reliance on harsh meds for a chronic condition.
If you want to be your own advocate you have to be strong enough to argue with medical personnel while you are half naked with your feet in stirrups, splayed out for everyone to see, because they’re not going to wait for you to put your undies and pants on to continue the conversation…i asked, and they said no, i could not get dressed until they left the room and i could talk to them as i was. So i argued with them while leaking all over the paper on the exam table.
I will not explain the whole scenario because i dont think its necessary and some of it is probably downright gross to many and i do believe some things should probably be kept private. However, i do have a few things i want to say.
I am living in a country where there is gender reassignment surgery and a process to qualify to obtain it. If i am a man that no longer wants to have a dong, i can begin seeing a therapist who will evaluate me and then clear or not clear me to receive the surgery to remove my dong. However, as a woman, i am not allowed to decide that after twenty years of insufferable pain, im ready to have my one viable ovary removed. I was told i dont have the right to just decide i want it out. A doctor has to decide i should have it out, and he will only do that if every other option hasnt worked. To which i protested that i know an alternative option works but it has life threatening side effects, which im not willing to tolerate. I told her that i have a right to decide i dont want the side effects of the alternate option to which she replied i absolutely did, but i still didnt have a right to decide my ovary was going to be removed. I dont understand. We have plastic surgeons in this country that have removed peoples ribs because they asked them to, for cosmetic reasons. Why is it that i cant find a doctor to remove my ovary for legit non-cosmetic reasons? I should have a say in this decision! Its my body. Somebody should have to consult me about what we do with me! Instead i was just told “no.”
Recently i sat down and had a long think about the reasons i had avoided returning to the hospital to deal with my reproductive issues. I thought back to all the diagnostic procedures that were done while i was completely awake, they refused to anesthetize me, and they also refused me pain meds. At times they offered to prescribe me an anti anxiety medication before the procedure but i was never allowed any pain medication for procedures where they gained access to my ovary, cervix, or fallopian tubes via my already existent opening. During one procedure they had a nurse standing next to the table all day and her sole job was to hold the woman on the table while the doctor performed the procedure because women had a tendency to writhe and scream and get up and try to run off. Sure enough, she had to hold me to the table as well. As i writhed and screamed and did my level best to get up i felt the weight of this nurse’s arm and elbow pressing me into the table and i looked at her hardened emotionless face and i felt less than human. I felt violated that people who were supposed to be caring for me were holding me to the table and performing a procedure against my will after i had already tapped out and expressed my desire to leave. When they were done they told me to clean myself up and go home. They all left the room. The doctor, the nurse, and the mandatory witness. I wiped the globs of lube and the blood with the paper towels they had left me, put on my underwear prepared with the pad to catch the blood i was told would leak out for a few days following the procedure, and waddled to the car to go home, after providing them my insurance info of course so they could bill me for the torture i was apparently privileged to receive. After talking to people who share my diagnosis, ive learned neither anesthesia nor pain medication is offered as an option for any procedure doctors can perform while gaining entry to the surgical site via the female reproductive entrance. The idea is, if they can go in without making a hole with a scalpel to get there, no matter what they intend to burn, cut, or dilate and insert a metal coil into when they get there, you do not require pain medication or anesthesia. I have watched so many of my friends continue on the train i jumped off of, continue on their journey towards motherhood, and if they cant take the pain of an invasive procedure they are met with condescending questions like, “How bad do you want to be a mother?” or “How are you going to handle childbirth if you cant handle this?” It is as if because childbirth is painful and women still have to live through it, they dont see a reason any other thing in a woman’s life shouldnt be. Well, let me just point out, they offer pain meds as an option during childbirth. Just saying. That logic is screwy. There are so so so many nerves in that area. Why on earth would you assume no pain medication is needed for any procedure involving that area? If a man was getting his wee wee operated on, they would anesthetize him. Nobody says, “well there’s a hole in your wee wee through which we can gain access to your internal organs by threading tools up with the guidance of a camera so we’re just gonna do that while nurse stacy here pins you to the table in case you writhe or attempt to run.”
Ive asked. Ive been there during procedures and ive asked for a pain medication beforehand and they have said no. They told me to take an advil if i thought i was somebody who couldnt handle pain. So the argument that you can ask even if it is not offered, is false. I have not been back to the doctor for this problem because they tortured me and they belittled me while doing it. After realizing what my friends went through unmedicated to achieve motherhood during fertility issues, im floored by how many more invasive procedures exist while women are totally awake and unmedicated. Its not okay that i am given morphine when my drug seeking neighbor takes me to the hospital while i have the stomach flu and in addition to the anti nausea meds that are going to allow me to drink water, convinces them to put morphine in my iv without me asking for or consenting to it……let that sink in. Im given morphine for the stomach flu and nothing for an invasive procedure involving my cervix or fallopian tubes. My friend is given nothing for the surgical retrieval of eggs from her ovary. Its not okay. It is painful, it is a procedure, and it deserves the given option of pain medication or anesthesia.
I’ll leave you with one thought to chew on. Is there any other area of medicine besides reproductive health where they refuse to say the word pain? Instead, we are told that we are going to feel “pressure”. Never in my 34 years has a reproductive health doctor told me that i was going to feel “pain” during a procedure. “You’re going to feel pressure.” And does it feel as if someone is pressing a blunt object against your skin…providing pressure? No. It feels like someone is cutting you open with a searing hot sword thats been sitting in a campfire. And we are swapping the word for this out for “pressure”.