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Let’s Start at the Beginning – The Exam Room

19 Feb

Little girl in exam room

Well, this is my first post ever, on my first blog. I’ll probably make mistakes from time to time, and I’ll attempt to correct them as soon as I know I’ve made them.

I couldn’t figure out how to begin, except to just start at the beginning. I’ll be walking through this along the same sort of timeline as it happened to us.  

In the summer of 1981, I’m in the Exam Room with my oldest daughter, who is only five years old at this time. Our state had just passed a law requiring all first-graders to have a full physical exam before starting their school year, and this year was the first time it was enacted. Her blood was taken, her urine sample was handed over, her blood pressure was taken, and her height and weight were measured. She was laying back on the exam table and her female doctor was examining her genitals… yes, as if she were having a pelvic exam… because she WAS having a pelvic exam. I was standing right next to my daughter and holding her hand. I was assured this was all part of the exam process. A young man, her assistant, was standing by the door, at an angle that assured all in the room that he wouldn’t be able to see anything.

The doctor said, “She has adhesions. She has adhesions!”

I looked at her and said, “What?!” My head started to feel very heavy and the inside of that head has started to swirl. Immediately, my grandmother came into my mind and my memories of her explaining to me what adhesions were – because she had had 21 surgeries – for adhesions alone, in her abdominal cavity. SCAR TISSUE!! WHY WOULD MY 5-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER HAVE SCAR TISSUE AROUND HER VAGINA??!! The doctor was moving. She stood up from her stool and literally RAN out of the room. All of this happened in the span of two seconds. I looked over to the assistant, and he followed her. I looked straight into my daughter’s face – a beautiful five-year-old baby – and asked her if anyone had been bothering her down there.

“Packy,” she said. She was scared, and I comforted her and told her she was all right. She was okay. But inside, I knew that neither of us were going to be okay. This was the beginning of a nightmare. I don’t remember how I was breathing, I don’t remember breathing at all. The room was spinning. Not fast. Just the slow, teeter-totter kind of spin… the floors are rising… the walls are moving back and forth… it’s the kind of slow teetering spin that makes you sick with a slow, momentum-building nausea. I picked my baby up and stood her on her feet on the floor, and I dressed her. That was when a nurse’s assistant – not her doctor’s assistant – this was a different one – came in and told us we needed to see another person who was going to talk to me about my daughter’s high blood pressure.

At this point, I am numb and simply following the assistant, and my daughter is following my lead. We are ushered into a small room and I remain standing. I don’t remember exactly why I couldn’t sit in a chair, except that there was just NO WAY that I could sit down. The woman, dressed in white, is sternly telling me that I could not let one dose be forgotten. One dose? What is she talking about? I try to focus on what she is telling me, but all I can hear – in my head – is, “Adhesions! Adhesions… My God, she has adhesions!” And my grandmother’s voice telling me, “Adhesions are scar tissue…”. The woman in white is saying something… I turn my head and look at her. Doesn’t she hear the tornado spinning in my head? Doesn’t she hear that it sounds like a freight train is bearing down on me? The meteorologists were right! Tornados do sound like freight trains! 

“Ma’am? Ma’am, have you understood what I’ve been telling you?”, she said.

“No, I haven’t,” I said. “Could you explain that again?”

She has been telling me that they have referred my darling daughter to a pediatric urologist, who will become her specialist, and he will help determine the big WHY – why my 5-year-old has High Blood Pressure. Their office will be calling me to tell me when to take her for her first appointment. They handed me a prescription and told me that I couldn’t miss a single dose – because of her age and her size – she had to take 3 doses a day. If I miss a dose, she could have a stroke, which could result in her death or brain damage, which could mean paralysis, too. 

No one says a word about the adhesions. And I never saw that doctor again, she left that practice and went somewhere else. No one asks me anything about my daughter’s physical exam. I leave that medical office with my daughter, heading straight to the pharmacy. My daughter’s High Blood Pressure will begin treatment with Inderal the very next morning. 

I left the pharmacy knowing I was about to confront “Packy” – the first step. I had no idea what  was about to happen. I had no idea how long this journey would be. I thought everything would be cut-and-dry. I would make a statement… he would go to jail… the nightmare would be over. I had no idea that I was about to step into a void filled with darkness and pain. No Light. There is NO LIGHT. There is no light anywhere.

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