My distrust of the medical profession began at birth…
Think about it, just the very act of being born is a traumatic experience. We’re floating in the dark cocoon of the womb, fairly oblivious to the outside world. Then the earthquakes begin, contraction after contraction pushing us through a narrow passage, our young life completely disrupted. We emerge into bright lights and a cacophony of beeping equipment, faces peering down into ours, the sound of our mother crying in relief. Extremely overstimulating for a highly sensitive infant.
Except my mother was not crying in relief. I was born breech, feet first with the umbilical cord looped around my neck.
I was immediately taken from her (at that time fathers were not allowed to be in the delivery room). My first bonding experience, as they worked to revive me, was with a stranger in a white mask.
My mother says she did not get to see me for several hours, we did not have that early skin on skin contact, synchronizing to each other’s heartbeats. My mom and I have since bonded very deeply, but I’ve come to the conclusion my birth experience is the root of why I’ve struggled to trust the medical profession.
Don’t get me wrong, I am eternally grateful to the medical staff who sprang into action and revived me, making it possible for me to sit here and write this post on my 44th birthday. Without their expertise, I would not exist. Looking back though, the circumstances of my birth colored so many future interactions I would have with doctors.
Like when I was 8 years old and experienced excruciating pain in my legs, waking up in the middle of the night unable to walk, I army crawled to my parents’ bedroom. Middle of the night diagnosis in the emergency room: it’s just growing pains. Even at that age, I knew it was something deeper, but a quick diagnosis brushed aside my intuitive knowing.
The ingrown toenail at age 12, yes they numbed it but I still could feel every nerve ending when they pulled the whole toenail off. Still makes my toes curl thinking about it.
Or how I had a severe allergic reaction to plaster of Paris on a worksite at age 22. Fingers swollen up to twice the normal size, the ER docs wanted to cut the wedding ring off my finger but I said no in loyalty to my spouse. I endured continuous, painful twisting until they popped the ring off. In fairness, I made that decision, which I now see was a lesson about putting my own health needs first. A lesson I’m still working on.
When I learned at age 30 I have a genetic deformity in my uterus that prevents me from ever having children. Laying with feet in the stirrups (ladies you understand what I’m talking about) while an entire class of medical interns peered into my nether regions because they had never seen a case like mine, because ‘it would be a good learning experience’. I felt like a freak, but like most sensitive people I’m a giver. One part of me thought, maybe someone else with this can be helped if they research me, while the other part of me was screaming, what’s wrong with all of you? Can’t you see how devastated I am since you just told me I will never be a mother? Surprised about how much that still hurts 14 years later.
My favorite? The male doctor I went to see about years of chronic back pain who actually grabbed my love handles and jiggled them, arrogantly stating if I were to just drop a few pounds I might feel better. Looking at his own pot belly, it took everything I had not to punch him straight in the nose.
My distrust of medicine doesn’t just extend to me, as recently my cat was diagnosed with diabetes. I’ve seen 4 different vets in the past year, one of them wouldn’t even touch my cat, another called his son in the middle of the consultation to ask for the name of the insulin he was prescribing. If I don’t believe you know what you’re doing, I’m outta here.
I finally found a wonderful vet who's specialized in treating cats for 30 years, she listened at a deep level and treated my cat and I with loving respect. When I mentioned that research shows 20% of animals are also highly sensitive, she smiled and said, ‘I call those cats the deep thinkers’. Indeed.
I can totally put myself into the shoes of a doctor or nurse, the number of patients they’re expected to serve. Let’s be real, almost all workers across all professions have too large a workload, a symptom of our culture’s message that tells us no problem, you can take one more patient, one more project.
The strong influence of the pharmaceutical industry, which actively encourages doctors to write prescriptions for pills to temporarily relieve symptoms, while the side effects can be much worse than the thing you started with. Keeping people on medication equals revenue, rather than healing the root cause of our illnesses holistically: not only in the physical body, but also through our thoughts, releasing pent up emotions and connecting at the spiritual level.
Or even the fact that medicine is not an exact science, we only know what we know right now. We’ll gradually learn more, but research takes time and monetary investment. Some diseases get much more publicity and consequently more funding while others are barely studied. We’re doing the best we can as a human species, I get it.
Where I’m currently struggling with medical distrust is in my exploration of fibromyalgia. A chronic condition that affects about 2–3% of people, it means living with sometimes almost unbearable daily pain. It’s the explanation that ties together the severe leg pain from age 8 with the continuous back pain since my 30s. How my body aches all over with a shift in the weather. I call myself the human barometer, I can forecast rain 48 hours out by the pain in my joints and muscles.
One of the greatest challenges for a person with fibromyalgia is finding a doctor who first of all believes they are telling the truth about the pain, then has the expertise and commitment to support them in the quest for managing this condition.
I’ve changed my diet to primarily whole foods, low sugar, no caffeine. Taking daily vitamin supplements, walking in nature, working on getting restful sleep (still a work in progress). Even negotiated with my employer to work part-time.
My body still hurts every day.
So here I sit, knowing I need additional support but asking myself, what am I going to have to endure in order to find a physician who views the healing process the way I do?
Whatever this part of my sensitive journey holds for me, I know this will strengthen my voice, speaking up for what I need and want. Listening to my intuitive knowing, being in tune with my body. Treating it with kindness like a best friend, instead of like my enemy.
I hold space for the right resources, the right people to come into my life.
Most importantly, I commit to letting go of the fear I’ve held for the medical profession since my birth. Because quite frankly, I don’t want to carry that around anymore.
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To your highest good,