Thursday, July 25, 2013

2013.07.24 Prepping for the Annual Physical

As the time of my annual physical check up approached I began my usual obsessing about whether I should go on a quick fasting diet to fool the scales.

Then another thought came to mind:I’ve had age-normal falls which landed me with a couple of black eyes and most recently black and blue legs. My doctor has all this data and had examined me accordingly. She never asked if someone was beating me up. Like maybe I never fell. I’d said I never tripped. She even ordered brain tests to make sure there was no evidence of stroke or seizure activity.

My doctor knows me and trusts me, and I her. She knows my husband too and trusts him. But I know my doctor is supposed to ask anyway.

Choking with laughter at this realization, I ran to tell my husband who said with a grim grin, “I’m toast.” And we laughed some more.

This is not to make fun of the terrible crime of domestic abuse. Nor to discount all the effective awareness work I and others have done over the years about this serious often hidden issue. 

Humor aside, my experience made me realize how easy it is to hide and disguise truth, especially if you feel threatened or without resources. I also wondered about trust.  How and why do you trust someone?  Believe them at their word?  I have no idea. I just happen to think it’s the best policy. And the second best policy is to ask questions.

I also know how hard it is for professionals, myself included, to ask someone, usually a woman, is she is a  victim, “feels safe at home.” It humiliates. I don’t want to add more hurt, more bruise. So I’m glad for regulations that require me to ask hard questions. I can blame the law.

Guess I’ll just go on a quick diet and thank Godde for the graces in my life.  

When I went to my physical I asked my doctor why she never asked. After she gave me some information about domestic violence regulations, which I knew. She told me about the location of most d.v. wounds, except for teeth. She told me she had directly asked a friend, “Who did this to you?” The woman wasn't a patient. Sadly, there was nothing more to do except advise about resources.   

There was more to our conversation than I can write. This doctor is thoroughly informed, aware about the law and about domestic violence dynamics and not hesitant to probe. I have complete confidence in this doctor, both medically and as a woman of integrity and justice.

After our serious conversation ended, she got a twinkle in her eye and said, “He’s such a charming guy, that husband of yours.  

Indeed he is.


Martha said...

Hi Lynne,
Are you talking about how difficult it is to confront or even to identify domestic abuse - either of spouses or of children?
I am just sending along an article I read last week in the New Yorker. You may have already seen it - 'A Raised Hand'by Rachel Louise Snyder.
It's under 'Annals of Prevention' in the July 22 issue. It feels kind of hopeful, since they have developed a series of factors that would alert people to rising risk.

Sometimes abuse is unmistakeable. My brother adopted an 8 month old girl who had already been so badly abused it was amazing she was still alive. She is now a lovely, happy young woman.

Also, what do you mean, 'normal age-related falls?' None of my business really, but I don't believe there are any 'normal age-related' falls. I've been having significant issues with falling, but no one has suggested it is my age. And would it be 'ageism' if they suggested that?

Take good care of yourself!

Martha Bullock

Lyn G. Brakeman said...

Hi Martha,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I take DV very seriously and as a professional pastoral counselor/ spiritual director and priest I confront it with gentle firmness all the time. It's hard to do because people feel embarrassed. I do pray that all our efforts will help eliminate it or do much to prevent such abuse. I believe in a God who constantly works within us as individuals and community to bring about transformation of heart and strengthen us to be compassionate with hope.
As to falls. The term used by my doctors and by hospital personnel is "age-normal" That is not pejorative or ageist, just realistic It just means that as we get older we are vulnerable in so many ways. So I didn't fall because I'm old or clumsy or anything negative. I'm just less agile and spry. It's normal, goes with the territory. I hope that clarifies your question about "age-normal" language, Martha. If you think of a better way to say it let me know. Have a good and gracious day— and month and year and years.