Thursday, August 8, 2019
"I don't have a choice, do I?"
It was at that point that I lost it. I stepped out of my doctor shell and became a woman, a sister, a friend, a mother.... just another human being, and female.
Graphic content may be distressing**
I was doing a day's shift at a practice in an area with a high population of conservative ethnic and religious groups where a lot of families lived in homes and streets with extended family members within close proximity.
Within these kind of arrangements, there are often strong cultural values and practices, unlike the general English culture.
A young lady came to see me. She was around 22 years old and had a toddler with her.
Her opening statement told me that I needed my detective glasses on. The kind that tells you that they are very worried about something, but they're not going to tell you what it is. I will have to figure it out.
"Doctor, I need you to be check my insides to make sure everything is ok."
(On a side note, can I just highlight that there is no one test for everything/to check that you are well/don't have cancer etc. Believe it or not, our human body is extremely complicated and dynamic....)
Anyway, I started probing.
The short summary (we got there in the end), was that she had been bleeding vaginally following fisting by her supposed fiance on repeated occasions. He had now suggested that they progress to anal fisting and the thought terrified her.
It was an on-off relationship and it was clear that she was not comfortable in it. She hated these alternative sexual options but felt obliged to endure them because he had promised her marriage!
She was already a single mother from a brief relationship and felt that finding a man willing to marry her would save her from the shame she was enduring within her community.
"I don't have a choice, do I?"
I will save my extended views on feminism for another day but the Chimamanda Adichie and Meghan Markle I felt at that point was palpable.
Thankfully I had recently been on a course where they taught us how to breathe. Honestly. I had not realised how handy it will come until this fateful day.
Apologies again to all the next few appointments.
I spent the next thirty minutes discussing life with this young lady.
Who are YOU? What do YOU want out of life? What do YOU believe? What standards do you want to set for your child? What do you really intend to get out of marriage?
How much are you prepared to sacrifice for this? How much of your self? Your physical and mental health, your future, your hopes, your beliefs. And for how long?!
It's all down to YOU. And the only thing you have is CHOICE!
Please do not stay in the wrong place, job, relationship etc when you know it's bad for you. You do not have time, but you have a choice, a voice.
Unfortunately, I may never meet her again but I would like to think that for the first time in her life, she saw herself as a 22 year old woman and mother with a life of possibilities ahead of her. One that did not include the need to wear nappies to control leaking bowels resulting from trying to please a man.
I mean, have you ever looked at the size of a man's fist?!