Endurance Riding

Dec 16 2017

#metoo

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There are so many things we still don’t talk about. Sure, a huge social media campaign has thousands of women admitting #metoo. So, that is one step forward. We are less afraid now to admit it has happened. But we don’t talk about what #metoo means. We don’t talk about how years after the incident we can be reminded of it so acutely that we feel as if it has just happened. We don’t talk about how what should be normal — even positive — life events can cause us to think irrationally because of what happened. We don’t talk about how it has affected the way we look at ourselves in the mirror, what we think of our vaginas, our sexuality, or our self-worth. We don’t talk about how, even after months, or years, of counseling, sometimes it is still hard to come to terms with what happened. We don’t talk about how one day we can feel completely healed and empowered and the next day we want to scream and cry and ask why.
 
Yesterday, I found myself in the operating room of my own hospital. I had to go in for a suction D & C (dilation and curettage) procedure to remove the partially retained placenta that my uterus had held on to for two weeks after giving birth. I was absolutely terrified. Not of the procedure itself, but of being under anesthesia and not being completely awake and aware while my body — my vagina — was on display so that surgical instruments could fix what my body had failed to do. I had tried, fruitlessly, to convince the surgeon to do the procedure using either a spinal or local anesthetic, either of which would have allowed me to be awake and alert during the entire surgery. When I refused general anesthesia, he at least agreed to do the procedure under conscious sedation. So while I’d be asleep, thanks to the drug propofol, I’d at least be breathing on my own, would awaken immediately after the procedure (thanks to the short half-life of propofol), and could safely breast feed my newborn afterwards.
 
But as I entered the operating room, after a tearful restless night, I wanted nothing more than to get up off that gurney and walk out of the OR suite. My circulating nurse was a man. One of the technicians who would be assisting the male doctor was a man. The anesthesiologist was a man. These were all my coworkers. I knew them to be professional, competent men who chose to work in health care for many of the same reasons I had. And they would take extra special care of me because I was one of them… Right? That was the rational part of my mind that convinced me to stay, coupled with the knowledge that I knew I really did need medical intervention. Being a registered nurse, I knew the risks associated with doing nothing and they were risks I wasn’t sure I wanted to take. I also knew I would feel a whole lot better once the placenta that I no longer needed left my body completely.
 
The last thing I remember as I lay on the OR table was the anesthesiologist showing me the syringe of the white milky medicine after I had insisted he show me the propofol dose. He said he was going to push the medication into my IV as soon as the surgeon entered the room, and the next thing I remember is seeing that surgeon standing at my feet. Before I even had a chance to yell, “Wait!,” I was asleep.
 
Wait!… my entire body is still covered. Several blankets were on top of me. I still had the disposable mesh panties on that my intake nurse had given me. My legs weren’t placed in the stirrups, allowing my body to be in that wonderful lithotomy position, a position that allows the doctor full access to a woman’s most private area; that position all women come to know well from the time they first start having sex, when it’s recommended they go in for regular pap smear tests. Wait!… my hospital gown is still covering me completely.
 
Wait!… I want to be the one to remove my own panties. I want to remove the blankets and expose my own self. Wait! I want to lift my own legs into the stirrups. Wait! I don’t want to be moved and manipulated and positioned for surgery while asleep. Wait! I want to see what you are doing to my body…
 
But how do you explain to an entire room of penises that there was a time in your life when your vagina was abused, your body manipulated, and you weren’t in control, so you just want to be in control now? How do you explain to these men, whose bodies have never been scrutinized or otherwise objectified in the same way your body has, that it terrifies you to have things done to you that you aren’t aware of, even if you know what is going to happen? How do you talk about things like this? How?
 
And so I kept quiet. Because I didn’t want to be that patient. That patient who doesn’t cooperate. That patient who insists on receiving her treatment differently. That patient who is trying to tell her entire medical team how to do their jobs. I didn’t want to be that patient. That difficult patient.
 
I awoke from my sedative state and immediately a few tears started streaming down my face. I hid those tears from my surgeon, my anesthesiologist, my nurse. I asked for my baby and my husband brought him to me while I was still in the post-anesthesia care unit.
 
We returned home a couple hours later and then I cried. I cried. And cried. And cried. I cried for the body that had failed me. I cried for what had been done to my body when I wasn’t fully aware. I cried for the cervix that stung inside of me, and the uterus that cramped, and I mourned for the pain that I wasn’t allowed to feel, the pain that had caused this discomfort inside me afterwards. I cried for what it meant to be a woman. I cried for what I had to sacrifice, the privacy I had to give up, in order to have the beautiful, amazing, most wondrous ability to give life. I cried for what happened to me more than fifteen years ago. I cried for the girl I was then, and the woman who couldn’t leave her behind sometimes. I cried for the inability to explain why I was crying when my concerned husband pressed me to tell him what was wrong. I cried for isolating myself from him, and from my older boys. And then I cried because I was crying.
 
The next morning, against my doctor’s orders and my better judgment, I walked outside just after first light, and stood in the barn. I was still bleeding and sore, my body exhausted, but I needed to return to some fragment of my life before I gave birth. I stood in the barn and cried while I filled multiple hay bags. I cried while I carried those hay bags over to the horses. I cried while I hung the hay bags in the horse paddock. I cried as I walked between the horses, stroking some of them with my bare hands as they followed me to their food. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.
 
And then I went inside.

27 responses so far

27 Responses to “#metoo”

  1. Barbara Whiteon 18 Dec 2017 at 9:13 pm

    Women have kept these stories to themselves for too long. Thank you for your courage, Jaya. You are surrounded by a family of good men who love you, and a large sisterhood that applauds you.

  2. Jennifer Graceon 18 Dec 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Love you Jaya. I get it. Completely. It’s weird the things that resurface those buried burdens of our past traumas. It’s only been 5 years since my last abuse but I still have some PTSD from time to time. Hugs beautiful woman.

  3. Noelle Eveon 18 Dec 2017 at 9:32 pm

    It’s strange to be a medical person that needs medical attention… I can relate to some of your feelings after I had Apollo…

  4. Cindi Faulconer Floryon 18 Dec 2017 at 9:37 pm

    You always write so eloquently. Glad you shared I know that pain as well. Was abused as a very young child and had to go in for the same procedure when I had an amniotic sack with no baby in it… It was a very difficult time as well….

  5. Vilma Broomeon 18 Dec 2017 at 9:40 pm

    God Bless You hun. You’re a very strong woman and I applaud you.

  6. Trish Gallegos Mcginnison 18 Dec 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, you are so brave, it took me 52 years to finally tell my story, and hiding it for that long caused way too many problems, years of never trusting men and that’s hard when you have all sons, years of never wanting anyone to touch me and never enjoying being a woman. So thank you for helping me to feel like I am not alone. You are my hero. God bless you. I also cry all of the time for what I have lost.

  7. Melissa Dewellon 18 Dec 2017 at 10:47 pm

    You are such an amazing woman! Bless you.

  8. Nicole Wertzon 19 Dec 2017 at 1:12 am

    Hugs to you beautiful woman.

  9. Audra Homiczon 19 Dec 2017 at 2:48 am

    You have all the empathy I can give…. #metoo

  10. Noelle Hendriksenon 19 Dec 2017 at 5:17 am

    You are an inspiration.

  11. Laurie Phillipson 19 Dec 2017 at 5:35 am

    Those who know cried while they read this!

  12. Caroline Milleron 19 Dec 2017 at 5:38 am

    Thank you Jaya. Hugs to you….

  13. Michelleon 19 Dec 2017 at 5:39 am

    Thank you for sharing such a personal but identifiable feeling. Our stories are all different-unique. But the emotions are so familiar. You are a strong woman with such a poignant perspective. Keep telling your story- all of them. Hugs to you.

  14. Melissa Formicaon 19 Dec 2017 at 5:41 am

    As an OR nurse this process becomes very routine and mindless. Thank you for adding additional perspective to what patients might be going through. I’ve always been sensitive to women in this position. I don’t allow reps in my OR unless absolutely necessary for these cases, I cover windows and I get the legs down and covered before anything else at the end of a case. It’s such a vulnerable position people are put in when they come to the OR. I appreciate your story friend, I’m glad you were able to share it. Much love.

  15. Georgia Hillon 19 Dec 2017 at 6:03 am

    Jaya. I’ve been crying a lot lately too. It’s ok to let your tears speak for you. And it’s ok to feel strong emotions that turn into tears falling.

  16. J.S.on 19 Dec 2017 at 8:02 am

    Your story has really helped me mentally and emotionally and has brought thoughts and emotions. I’ve been told to cowgirl up and get over it. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Kristy Coppon 19 Dec 2017 at 8:10 am

    All my love to you!! <3 What a deep and emotional share — you are so very amazing, and I am so lucky to be able to call you my friend!

  18. Logan Reinboldon 19 Dec 2017 at 8:21 am

    Hang in there Jaya!! You are such a beautiful person! I went through the same thing last December when I miscarried. Such a vulnerable state to be in. Thank you so much for saying out loud the feelings that we as women feel in those moments but keep inside.

  19. Emily Kurylaon 19 Dec 2017 at 10:12 am

    JayaMae – You may never know how much you have helped other women by telling your story and expressing your feelings. You are a strong role model.

  20. Jamie Parfreyon 19 Dec 2017 at 10:19 am

    Sending so much love your way Jaya!! You’re amazing and have such great strength. Thanks for sharing such a vulnerable story. ❤ I hope you’re finally on the mend after your surgery.

  21. Penny Burditton 19 Dec 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Why is it that we keep inside the pain and hide it from those who care and would never have caused such pain. We hide it so much that when it decides to come out… It comes out like a flood. There’s no stopping it, just waiting for it to finish washing over us. Your words are beautiful. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, that we may heal too.

  22. Katherine Harrellon 19 Dec 2017 at 8:28 pm

    Thank you so much for the gift of your experience. I am reminded of the very many years when I could not cry at all – of being just hollow inside, literally a husk of my former self. And, finally what a great gift it was to be able to cry – to feel, to have a way to release those crippling emotions and begin to heal. May your crying cleanse and heal you the way it has helped me, my friend.

  23. Bronwyn Swanon 19 Dec 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Thank you JayaMae. You are an inspiration to many. ❤️❤️

  24. Amy Clineon 22 Dec 2017 at 9:37 am

    Beautiful Jaya! Thank you for sharing, I cried while reading this. Felt like I was feeling your emotions. Just beautiful♥️You were able to put into words things many of us have never been able to say out loud.

  25. Crista Marieon 23 Dec 2017 at 8:34 am

    At a young age I had a D&C due to miscarriage, I was 24. It was such a traumatic experience that I couldn’t do it for the next Miscarriage. Which resulted in a more traumatic experience, which was at the least in a small space with a woman doctor and more personal. I wonder what type of training could be available to medical professionals about the re-traumatization that happens during certain procedures. I was ill prepared for both, and it definitely sparked some PTSD. Ugggh Your words expressed my feelings… more than you know…

  26. Susan Smython 25 Dec 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Insightful, touching, truthful. I will share with my nursing peers and never forget your honesty and depth.

  27. Ellie Ertleon 08 Jan 2018 at 4:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I am once again reminded how grateful I am that my girl has a warrior woman like you as a mentor. ❤️

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