Things You Should Know


Hello, Friends.

I had a meeting yesterday with someone in a position of authority and knowledge at my workplace about the things that healthcare providers should know.  It was a good meeting – I was a little scatterbrained – but I do that when I am feeling anxious.  However, she is a very good person and cares deeply about the needs of Veterans, so it was great.

I thought that since I have passed this website address out to some healthcare providers that I would take an opportunity to talk about the things I would like to tell you (my doctor)…but just can’t.  Some of the things seem obvious – some maybe not so much.  If you are a survivor and you are reading this blog – please chime in!  Share what you know that can help them to be better at their jobs.

1 – Rape is never, ever about sex.  The person doing the raping may achieve climax – but it is the power and control that causes that – not necessarily the sex act.  Occasionally, I have learned, that the victim may actually achieve climax.  Orgasim is nothing but the body’s response to painful stimuli – like a sneeze.  You may encounter a nasty smell that makes you sneeze – but just because you sneezed – doesn’t mean you liked it!  Same thing with the act of rape.

2.  Just because I work in healthcare does not mean that I am comfortable as a patient.  When I become a patient, I feel that I no longer have any means of control, and that is highly disturbing to me.  Just because I work around male veterans all day doesn’t mean that I am okay sitting in a waiting room full of them.  It is a lack of control that drives me crazy!

3.  I am a powerful advocate….for someone else!  I can express all sorts of things if I feel that I am defending, helping, working for another person…especially, if that person is another survivor.  I will be logical, articulate and professional.  Do not mistake that for the ability to advocate on my own behalf.  If you are my doctor – you know my medical history – just ASK ME what I need.  Make the space a “safe place” for me to express my needs.  ie…”What can I do to help make this exam/procedure  more comfortable for you?”  Don’t side-step the issue that I am a survivor of MST, use it as a chance to help me to trust you, and be willing to be an advocate for me if I need it.  I may not need you to do anything – but knowing you will help me makes it so much easier.

4.  Referrals – if you refer me to another clinic/provider/area – please “make a path” for me.  ASK ME if I need help talking to that clinic, expressing my needs for a specific provider and a specific room requirement.  I hate small rooms without windows and that is even worse when the doctor sits down and blocks the door. 

5.  Medical procedures.  This one is so important!  I am having a cystoscopy tomorrow.  I had to call and get a nurse in that clinic to call me, then I had to explain the problems, then we had to get things set up.  Thankfully, I managed to get one of the best nurses in the world – her question was, “what can I do to help you make this an easy process.”  Then she took over, set it all up and confirmed back to me what I wanted.  It was great!  However, it took me days to make that call, a call that should have been made by my MD when she wrote the consult.

6.  Understand that some procedures are worse than others.  I have a male gyn and I really like him.  He is so funny and easy going that you don’t even know what he’s doing until he’s done.  Very gentle and he listens!  I had a colonoscopy with a male doctor.  I met with him before the procedure for a consult.  One of his first questions was…”how out do you want to be?”  He gave ME the control of the procedure.  I told him I wanted to wake up next Tuesday…and that is exactly how out I was.  The only thing I remember was walking down the hall after the procedure, farting and giggling.  Because the doctor was sensitive to the unhappy nature of the procedure, I was very comfortable.

7.  If I tell you something about my needs – becareful how you ask me “why.”  Don’t challenge me – I don’t mean give me anything I ask for – I mean if I express a need ask for clarification without making me seem stupid.  ie…I am going to be sedated for this procdure and I need a work excuse for my spouse.  “why do you need to be sedated?…it’s just a cystoscopy.”  WRONG STATMENT!  Because you just slammed the door in my face.  Much better – “It is your option to be sedated.  Is there something you are worried about in the procedure?  Can I answer any questions?”  BING – you just gave ME the control and opened the door to my questions and concerns. 

8.  Don’t make me feel like a “baby” if I am afraid.  I am terrified of certain medical procedure.  One fear of mine is pain, especially in the female organs.  The other one is dental work.  Long story on that one that I won’t tell here.

9.  I do not like feeling vulnerable.  Therefore, I do not want to be any more naked than required.  I would like a robe, sheet, blanket…something.  Try not to make me sit waiting for you to come exam me after I am undressed.  Every 5 minutes will feel like an hour and as each “hour” goes by I will become more and more anxious.

10.  Learn to read body language.  If I get real quiet and stop making eye contact…something is wrong.  Remember, I may not be able to express the problem for myself.  You may have to ask a question instead of just plowing ahead.

11.  Rape has many different meanings within the military context.  A person can “submit” to a sexual act with a person senior in rank to protect themselves.  A person can be visciously and brutally attacked.  Both kinds have their own after effects.  Both kinds are rape.  I don’t trust people in a position of authority and I am always watchful for what seems like “abuse of power.”  That is one of my problems.  As a result I sometimes have problems “sticking up for myself.”  It is all in my chart…read it sometime…if you don’t want to read – try asking what I need.  Don’t just assume HOW I was raped and HOW it affects me.

12.  I am an incredibly independent and intelligent woman…yes I am.  If you do not fill in the blanks – I will look for answers on my own.  Please take time to ask me what answers I need.  ie…almost every place I have looked at for “microscopic blood in urine” the answer is CANCER.  Of course, that is the worst case scenario.  Chances are it is nothing or it is a result of scar tissue and damage from my first husband.  Kidney shots were his speciality.  Take 5 when you refer me and say, “this is the possiblities.”  I will feel much better if I know everything than if I know nothing.

13. – Lucky number.  Chain of Command.  I will always follow it.  I can’t help it.  Part of my brain is twisted and will never return.  I always start with my doctor and move up…I won’t jump a rung…I just can’t.  If you can’t do something…if you want it to be someone else’s responsibility…fine.  Tell me that!  Tell me that I can go the next step.  “oh, you need to ask such and such about that…do you need their number?”  You have done your job and I can move forward without feelings of guilt.

14.  If you work with a Veteran population and you know nothing about the military.  ASK SOMEONE.  Surely, someone you work with is military.  If nothing else go and rent shows like, Tour of Duty.  They did a really nice job of displaying military life.  If you work with Women Veterans you need to watch the following list:  Courage Under Fire, GI Jane and the documentary Lioness.  Those are the big three I would recommend.

That is all I have for now.  I will be off the air a day or two.  Versed leaves me stupid.  I am sure that Brigid will post the good news that it is nothing.

Again, if you are a survivor and you have insight…please bring it to me.  Post it here or send to our email address:  www.enemyinthewire@hotmail.com  I can forward this information to people in the medical field and I am working on that.

We are making a difference…one step at a time.

Joan

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4 Responses to “Things You Should Know”

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  2. Jeramy Adib Says:

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