Visiting The Doctor
Whenever I see a doctor, for any reason at all, I break out in hives. As I sit in the waiting room, without fail big red blotches begin to form all over my torso. Since the rape, it happens whenever I have to be touched by a stranger, but these days, that’s usually only in a medical setting. By the time I go into the treatment room for my appointment I look like I have contracted some shocking new Middle Eastern Meningitis or Peruvian Plague. As the doctor lifts my shirt to listen to my lungs and heart, invariably they spy my rash, and begin themselves to panic. This leads then to the following scenario: every time, the majority of my precious fifteen minuet allotment is spent reassuring the horrified professional that I am neither dying nor contagious. Sometimes I manage to avoid them calling in a colleague to poke and gawk at me too. In the end however, doctor and I always end up performing this farcical dance together:
I am fine, I say, but something is wrong with me.
You are fine, they reply, but what the hell is that!?
I don’t know it yet, but this dance, each time we perform it, amounts to another act of betrayal. A form of gaslighting that I am complicit in. As if it hadn’t had its wants and needs dismissed enough, in the doctor’s office too I am now once again compelled – for the comfort of others and in consideration of others– into stifling my own ingenious reactions, my frantic physiological attempts to warn off predators. More than this, the dance serves the decidedly underhanded purpose of alerting them to my apparent hypochondriasis. You can almost hear them thinking, ‘We’ve got a live one here. Somatization stations!’ Nothing I tell them after my rash episode sticks. Whatever problem I have come in there with, I am a neurotic anxious housewife, diagnosis confirmed.
Prognosis? Life-long, but not terminal.
Prescription? Cup of tea and a Bex and a good lie down.