I saw a new gynecologist today. I’ve been avoiding it for a long time. Last night I thought about canceling. I hoped that maybe I’d be up all night puking and then I would have a valid excuse to reschedule again. Unfortunately, there was no puke to be had. There was a brief glimmer of hope when I got there, and the receptionist said I didn’t have an appointment. But then I showed her the confirmation on my phone from yesterday. There was no turning back now. They were already walking me down the hallway, into the cold room, past all of my memories. I have to work hard to push through them in the hallways sometimes. And when I sit down on the exam table. And when I look the doctor in the eyes.
I sat on that table for a while, waiting. Waiting with the sheet draped over my lap and the gown snapped in the front. It’s a vulnerable position whether or not you’ve been through trauma. And then he came in. “I was just reading up on your long medical history.” In some of the scenarios I played over in my mind about this moment, we just pretended it didn’t happen. I was just another patient there for my annual exam–well, four years late for my annual exam–and he does his thing, and I leave. He never checks my charts. Never learns about the doctor who left me on that cold table and told me I wasn’t her problem. Never learns that I know the words vesicouterine fistula. Never asks how long I had to use a catheter after surgery. But that didn’t happen today.
“Did it happen here?” “Yes.” “This recently happened to someone else here.”
There’s another woman out there, anonymously living what I went through.
At the end of my exam, he looked at my scar. “They did it vertically,” his whispered voice sharing just enough for me to recognize that he empathized. I didn’t cry at that moment, but I wanted to.
When I first saw my scar, I hated it. I was horrified. Now I’m protective of it. I didn’t expect him to see my scar. I didn’t expect him to say anything about it. But that happened today.
Sometimes when I see someone’s scars, I want to touch them. It’s an involuntary response. I don’t know why I want to touch them. I don’t want anyone to touch mine. But there’s a sense of connection in our scars. There’s a story. There’s a trauma. There’s a shared humanity. We were broken and put back together. And maybe I want to know what it’s like when other people were put back together.
Did they feel empty? Did they lose a piece of themselves when they were sown back together? Do they feel whole again? Are they still broken underneath the scar? Do they love this version of themselves?
Were the hands that put them back together soft? Were they kind? Were they careless? The hands that touch those scars today, what are they like?