Saturday, February 10, 2018

Me, Too.

He was a neighbor.  He went to my church.  He socialized with my parents.  He had seven children and a lovely wife.  His oldest daughter was friends with my sister.  He was my first gynecologist.  

He didn’t have an office nurse, at least, not anytime I had an appointment.  He told me the thing he was doing with his hands was to relax me so that the speculum would go in more easily.   He made sure I was aware of his erection.  He told me that all women were filthy creatures and that I needed to douche every day with vinegar.  He said I had cysts on my ovaries and gave me medication.  But he also said the medication probably wouldn’t work so he scheduled surgery to remove them.  

A week or so later I hemorrhaged, and went to the ER.  When he was called he screamed at me, calling me low class for going to the emergency when it was nothing but a heavy period!  But it wasn’t. I could tell the difference.  He wouldn’t listen.

When I got to the hospital he came to examine me before surgery.  The hospital nurse wouldn’t let him be alone with me - there are rules, doncha know.   He was angry at being interfered with.  He was angrier that my cysts were gone, so no surgery.  No removal of ovaries.  The nurse suggested very carefully I might want to find another gynecologist. 

My family doctor couldn’t understand why I went from having low blood pressure to high blood pressure in a matter of months for no apparent reason.  I learned about White Coat Syndrome.  I tried to forget Dr. Larkin.  Successfully.  For decades.  I just always told my doctors I had White Coat Syndrome and went to female gynecologists.

Two years ago someone in my GP’s office didn’t listen when I said I needed to be referred to a female OB/GYN.  When the male doctor walked into the room I had a panic attack, right then and there.  I suddenly remembered Dr. Larkin and told the story to that doctor and his nurse.  They were horrified, and apologetic, and understanding.  They referred me to another doctor.

It was liberating.  My BP has been perfectly normal at all my doctor’s appointments since that day.  I have answers to some of the questions that came up when I was diagnosed with PTSD several years ago.   

The #Me,Too movement has given me the freedom to tell this story out loud.  I am grateful for all the women and men who have spoken out, and hopeful that all of these stories can bring about change.