I’ve been dealing with a significant medical issue for the last ten days.
And when I say dealing with, I mean actively avoiding, pretending it’s not happening, and keeping my mouth shut about it, hoping it will resolve on its own. Because you know, that’s how I handle most things in my life. That’s how I was taught to handle most things in my life.
Medical avoidance is my norm. That is one thing I have carried on from my mother. She only took us to the doctor when it was required (because of school forms) or when I was near death. And even then, I was made to feel like it was some kind of burden on her for me to be sick.
Well before I was diagnosed with asthma at age 14, I kept telling my parents that something was wrong. I had to struggle to catch my breath. I felt like I was suffocating.
“It’s just allergies.”
Except it wasn’t just allergies. I suffered for a long time until my lungs filled up with so much fluid that I could no longer breathe. It wasn’t until then that my mother finally took me to the doctor. I probably would have died if she had waited any longer.
By then, the damage was already done. I spent the next 14 years in and out of hospitals, battling pneumonia and lung infections, living off of oral steroids and liquid Albuterol just to stay alive (and for those that may not know, oral steroids are simultaneously the best and the worst drugs ever).
I always waited until the very last minute to seek medical treatment. Concerned friends would tell me I was turning blue. “I’m alright, just cold,”I’d tell them. Then within the week, I’d be in the ER on oxygen. I wasn’t cold, I knew what was coming. I just was taught to think that I didn’t need medical care. I grew up believing that I didn’t deserve medical care.
And I’m still practicing that belief. I went to the doctor back in March, with my therapist, after her consistent prodding and encouragement. It was at that appointment that I was diagnosed with COPD. I haven’t been back to the doctor since. My prescription ran out, and I’ve been living unmedicated for months now.
I think I’m doing just fine, considering. My therapist is not as inclined to think so. We were discussing the impending hospitalization, and her reasons for wanting me to go. She mentioned me not receiving medical care.
“I don’t need medical care, I’m fine.”
“You have COPD, and you’re not getting treatment for that.”
“Yea but I don’t need it, I’ve been okay.”
“For now. But that’s not just something that can be put to the side.”
On a deeper level, I still feel undeserving of care. That ties into my even deeper belief that I am undeserving of love, and undeserving of life. Maybe I have COPD because I am undeserving of oxygen. Who knows.
I wasn’t even going to tell my therapist about my current issue. I had already endured enough of her semi-lecturing this session. But I found myself immensely tired during session. My therapist assumed it was related to not wanting to talk about the difficult stuff (which I admit, in the past, it has been). I kept telling her this was different, and she asked how I knew it was.
I finally told her what’s been going on. I knew it was just going to further prove her point about me needing to go to the doctor. Luckily for me, I squeezed in my admission right at the end of session, so I didn’t have to talk about it all that much. I’m sure I will hear about it on Thursday. Hopefully by then, the issue will be resolved and I can just say “see, I told you I was going to be fine.”
Or, it won’t. Either way, I’ll sit there and say everything is okay. I could be bleeding to death, and I’ll still tell you I’m okay.
That’s what I did in childhood. That’s what I do today.