I had an experience a few months ago that I’ve been waiting to share with you. I needed to process privately first, and now I’m here and ready to be witnessed in hopes of inspiring something for you. Thank you in advance for receiving these words with care…I still feel some tenderness with this experience, even though such time has passed.
In early May, I went to a new gynecologist. Going to the doctor has always been an experience that raises my blood pressure, and that’s especially true when it’s a new doctor. Even with all my grounding and centering tools that I both practice and preach, I felt on edge walking into this new doctor’s office, knowing I was about to put my feet into the stirrups and open up the most intimate parts of myself to prodding and scrutiny.
Anyone else out there get gynecological anxiety? Or is it just me?
Anyway, after initial paperwork, I was escorted into an exam room, where the nurse began asking questions, rapid fire. My anxiety mounted as my heart began to race and I felt air bubbles catching in my windpipe…a lump in my throat.
While I historically have low blood pressure, when the nurse took my reading, it came back high. This didn’t really surprise me–the reading perfectly reflected the experience I was having in my body at that moment as the anxiety of visiting a new doctor was compounded by the nurse’s quickness. I was instructed to strip and change into my gown, and as the nurse left the room, she let me know she’d be alerting the doctor to my blood pressure situation.
When the doctor walked in, I felt another quickening in my body. Similar to the nurse, the doctor was cursory and curt. While I don’t want to get too dramatic about it–because I know this experience was ultimately in service of my evolution–I do want to be clear that nothing about this exchange felt good. Both the doctor and nurse were rushed and robotic, and ultimately, I felt more like a meat sac on a slab than a real woman with feelings, needs and desires.
“Why is your blood pressure so high?” the doctor asked.
“Because I am scared, and this is a new office for me,” I told her. The answer didn’t seem to register.
Rather than following up on my answer or digging any deeper, she decided to do another reading while proceeding to lecture me about high blood pressure being the “silent killer” of women. I wondered if she’d ever stopped to consider what not feeling seen or heard does to a woman…
Partway into this lecture, the doctor tells me that I “really need to start exercising.” At this point, I wanted to cover up my face or to run out of the room. Or perhaps to scream at her, “I’m a yoga instructor with historically low blood pressure, and I exercise regularly you asshole!” Despite the fact that my emotions were running high, the second reading came back much closer to my normal, meaning it was low.
The doctor’s face registered shock and disbelief.
Truthfully, my inner kid felt a little like saying, “Take that lady”.
So why am I sharing all this? Because I feel it’s important to own our truth around our experiences, especially when it comes to our bodies. And so, here’s what I know to be true: most of us walk around making assumptions about other people all day every day (I am not immune to this either, and this was such a great learning/reminder). We get into our automatic ways of being and thinking, and we forget that each human we encounter is gorgeous and unique and deserves to be treated as such.
In this experience, I feel as though the doctor regarded my high blood pressure and then took one look at my body type–curvy–and assumed that I am not a woman who takes care of herself, even though I had told her I have a yoga/coaching business where I have prioritized self-care and actively support other women in doing the same.
I’ve written before about how frustrating I find it that our society often treats “healthy” as a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, when in reality, that just isn’t the case. Healthy can look and feel and sound all kinds of different ways, and a lot of time, with Western medicine especially, that is something that can get lost. We get so caught up on treating the symptoms and “fixing” what appears to be wrong–using an outside-in approach–that we fail to address the root of our issues.
And what’s at the root? In this case, at the root of my experience is the understanding that when a doctor chooses to not really hear a patient…. when she begins making assumptions based on what she thinks she knows, it’s an issue.
I feel that often, when we make assumptions about other people, we objectify and dehumanize them. We cut off the possibility for authentic connection and intimate communication. We cut off the possibility for support that feels welcoming.
I am so grateful that I have built up my self-awareness and resilience enough that this experience didn’t send me into a full downward spiral. In the past I mostly likely would have started dieting the moment I left the room, and as someone with a history of disordered eating, that’s hugely problematic.
THIS is why it’s so important for each of us to claim our sovereignty, especially when it comes to our health and wellbeing. To own our inner knowing, even in the midst of being guided and supported by “professionals” or “experts,” regardless of the context in which we find ourselves. To be willing to explore the root cause of things, rather than taking someone else’s word for it.
There’s definitely more to share in the months to come, and for now I’ll leave it at this. I’d love to hear from you. What resonated for you from this article? Have you ever felt invalidated and pushed aside by someone who is meant to support and care for you? Have you ever been the one making assumptions that got in the way of what was really present in the room (If so, no judgement, I know I have too)? Tell me, what gem of wisdom in here feels important to apply to your own life and practice?
P.S. Stay tuned next week as I reveal a really special offering that is so close to my heart with you. It’s something that I only lead once a year and it has birthed itself from the passion I share in these newsletters with you… it’s an offering in supporting you in owning your own inner sovereignty and wisdom… it’s a pathway home to you… it’s a space to be seen and heard and loved in a community where you can practice being yourself. I look forward to sharing with you next week