Multiplicity and Medical Care
This is my first time publishing a blog post via the microphone of a smart phone, so if there are unusual spelling or grammar errors, please bear with me. They’ll be fixed when I’m back at a computer. I’ve looked over it but may have missed things… 😉
Confession: I wrote most of this post while laying on a bed in the emergency room; won’t go into details here about what is/was wrong. Not because it’s such a big secret but because I’m just trying to spare you (especially the male half of the readership, if there is one), and just suffice it to say that it could potentially be serious if it’s not fixed, but it is – at least in theory – fixable. If you really want to know, send me a PM. 😉
The truth is, my T has been asking, encouraging, and very kindly pressuring me to go see a doctor for quite a while now, for various reasons. And for various reasons of my own, financial not being the least of them, I have refused. Cue the build up to a trip to the ER…which made me start thinking about all the surrounding complications of multiples and medical issues.
I cannot speak for anyone else, but I wanted to throw out some reasons that my particular system has a hard time with getting medical care. Just to clarify: this post is not addressing mental health. I am referring to physical healthcare only, because mental healthcare is its own can of worms. 😉 This post is not even going to touch all the issues or potential triggers that me, my system, or others’ systems might have with the actual doctors, nurses, hospitals, or medical procedures themselves. That, also, is another topic for another day.
To remind everyone, or to state for those who might be new: I am a protector in my system. (I tend to prefer the term guardian.) So one of my “talents,” if you want to call it that, is having an insanely high pain tolerance. If you’ve never experienced this superpower, it might seem all good. What’s not to love about never experiencing any pain (specifically physical pain)? Well, actually, a few things. For one, I barely know when I truly have a problem, because I just don’t feel it. This can be dangerous when life-threatening medical issues rear their head; those symptoms that are supposed to alert me that I need help are usually lost on me. I have to almost completely rely on others – whether other inside people or those outside – to help me, because I have no perspective. This has led to more than one headache in my lifetime, because if I’m conscious, awake, walking, talking, and my version of functional, I assume I’m “fine.” Coupled with the fact that along with my high pain tolerance, I also have the ability to stay conscious up until near death, this is a problematic working model. 😉
I had a similar situation last year as the one I’m currently in – medically speaking – where in I was a bit further along with the symptoms, and I actually came within a few hours of dying before the medical professionals got off their asses and admitted me (that’s another story), but, I was conscious the entire time. I did get to a place where I couldn’t walk, but I honestly didn’t realize how serious it was until later, when it was over. It didn’t hit me how very close I had come to death, until I was treated, and began to recover. Part of this was the simple fact that sometimes, when you feel so, so terrible (despite the unbeknownst aspect in my case), your mind is not processing much of anything except your next breath. But the other part of it for me was that I was still conscious, and – by my logic – never at any point believed things were really THAT bad. As a matter of fact, I was supposed to be moving out of state that weekend, and before I got to the point where I could not walk, when I had the energy, between ER trips, I was still packing boxes! :-/
For less dramatic situations, as far as pain tolerance, it’s simply annoying. As an example, I once went for a walk around my neighborhood, with a nagging feeling that something was vaguely irritating me. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, gave up trying to figure it out, and kept walking. When I got home, and turned to shut the door, I saw a footprint outlined with blood by the door. My new shoes (flip-flops, as it was summer) had rubbed a sore between my toes, all the way from nonexistence to open and dripping blood, and I had left a blood trail all the way around the neighborhood, totally unaware. Those are the kinds of things normal people are able to circumvent… At least… So I hear.
Here are some things that I, in particular, have trouble with when it comes to the decision about whether or not to get medical care. This is just stuff me and my system wrestle with; not sure if anyone else can relate.
1) speaking for my system as a whole, it can be impossible to tell the difference between a psychosomatic symptom, a body memory, and a legitimate medical symptom. I’m not saying that psychosomatic things or body memories shouldn’t be taken seriously (they should), but just that if I were able to know the difference, I would treat them differently, based on my opinion and knowledge of what would work best for my system for each individual scenario. S/RA survivors, generally speaking, have tons of psychosomatic stuff going on, and sometimes a bunch of body memories on top of that. So in my own words, my system is used to bullshit, phantom bodily sensations that may or may not mean anything in present day reality. Real, valid problems just blend in. Weirdness in regard to my physical state is hardly novel. It can be problematic to know when something legitimately needs immediate attention.
2) my system, and especially me – plus our other guardians – can tend to be very black-and-white thinkers. Without meaning to, we relate to everything back to some of the original experiences of abuse, which are inarguably some of the worst things a human being can experience. In light of this comparison, so long as those things are not happening to us right now, we assume we are “okay.” Everything else seems relative.
3) there’s a certain sense of invincibility cultivated over years of surviving the unspeakable. Where some would have died (and some did die), we survived, and survived, and survived. Whether a sense of pride is misplaced, or appropriate, or somewhere in between, when it comes to medical issues, that sense of pride can morph into a form of denial that anything could ever truly kill us. It can become incredulity, even, in thinking that since you didn’t die from the abuse, you couldn’t possibly die from something as mundane as (for example) a ruptured appendix or a staph infection. How boring. (That’s dry humor, in case you can’t tell.) 😉
These are the main things I was pondering while waiting the 10 long hours in the ER, only to be told I needed to see a specialist instead, as soon as possible. With my particular symptoms, this outcome is annoying, firstly because they don’t know in general how much effort it took for me to prioritize my physical state to begin with. So to be sent home is interpreted as a validation of my original belief that anything less than dying must mean I’m fine, and solidifies the internal accusation that I’m essentially making a mountain out of a molehill. And secondly, the warped mindset notwithstanding, because I could very well end up back in the the ER before I have the chance to see a specialist, depending on how quickly they can get me in. This is what happened last year, but last year I was in a worse state from putting the entire thing off much, much longer (see previous discussion about denial that anything is really that bad). At any rate, I don’t know if anyone else can relate to these things, but I thought I’d put it out there anyway. Cheers. ~J8