‘I don’t like to bother people,’ said one man who drove himself to ER with a nail in his heart.
I’m a massive hypocrite, I’ll be the first one to admit it. Asking for any kind of leniency for myself in a difficult situation is somehow forbidden from me but I’d never say that about anyone else. I’d never tell anyone else who has suffered from abuse that they’re somehow making a fuss if they ask for something to put their mind more at ease.
So how does that work?
I think it’s the perfect storm in my case. I remember how one time I was in danger of not graduating from high school the same time as everybody else because I had missed a module in Swedish. I channelled the overwhelming anxiety into finding an evening school where I could take the module, got all the necessary paper work and registered on the evening class before I even told my mum.
I’ll never forget her expression when she realised I’d sorted everything out without telling her and this was merely an announcement.
The thing is though, I knew that it would’ve been OK to ask for help. My parents help me all the time. I was taught that people just do things to each other to make life easier to the other person. You just do it without a second thought. That’s love.
Then I got into a relationship where asking for anything was too much to ask. Everything I had ever learned about showing care to another person didn’t apply.
I ask him to clean his side of the room we shared because it looks a fucking pigsty. He refuses to do it because I called the room a pigsty and he found it disrespectful.
I ask him to walk me to my evening class because I’m scared to walk alone in the dark.
‘Why?’ he asks and turns back to his computer game.
It could be anything: tone, my choice of words, the fact that I asked twice and the second time was too soon after the first one. The fact that he’d promise to do it changed nothing. The favour was dangled in front of me and could be taken away at any time.
It was easier to just do it myself.
It gets sorted.
I’m not disappointed.
It doesn’t hurt when the other person turns on me.
I guess I’ve taken it to the extreme over the years. Once a mate would physically wrestle a heavy shopping basket from my hands after I’d just been hospitalised for pneumonia.
The only way I stop arguing is when the person offering to help tells me to fuck off.
I have a hospital appointment. I’ve been thinking should I say something. It’s about contraception and anything to do with sex is difficult.
I think about it when I get a letter confirming the appointment.
I think about it when I come in an hour early because I’m so anxious. The receptionist isn’t very smiley so I’m immediately on my toes. I don’t know how she might react.
I think about it when I fill in the form.
‘I can do this,’ I say to myself.
Then I see that the doctor is a man.
I open my mouth and after a long-winded beginning get the words out. I’ve experienced sexual abuse so I’m nervous about being in a room alone with a male doctor.
I’m horrified at myself as I say the words, like I’m watching myself from the sidelines.
What am I suggesting?! It’s like I’m accusing this doctor, somebody I’ve never met, for being a potential rapist. How fucking DARE I?
I panic the moment it comes out of my mouth. I rush to say that it’s nothing personal.
Of course it fucking isn’t Ida, this is your first time here.
A thought I never ever think flips through my mind like an arrow.
What will she think of me?
That’s all I needed to say. She immediately takes a phone. Asks for a nurse to come down. Two seconds later one arrives. I have a confidential matter, she tells her. Turns to me.
“Would you be more comfortable with a nurse in the room with you?”
I nod, stunned. You could’ve poked me with one of the smartly designed fountain pens on the desk and knocked me over. The receptionist doesn’t say anything of what I just told her, just that the matter is complicated.
“Would you like to talk to Denise before the appointment?”
I’m not going to give Denise a fake name because she was brilliant. She took me to another room before the actual appointment, didn’t ask me any details but was very sympathetic. She said she hasn’t got a clue what it’s like to be in my position but she’d do her best that everything would go smoothly for me.
She told me about the doctor I was seeing, assured me he was nice. She promised to go in before me and explain the situation to him so I wouldn’t have to. If I felt uncomfortable at any point I could just look at her and she would take me out of the room.
“If you don’t mind…” she asked at the end, very carefully. “Could you please tell me afterwards how did I do? I want to hear what I can do better so that I can support someone else better in the future.”
She did what she promised. She went in the room before me, invited me in and introduced the doctor. She said she locked the door so I wouldn’t have to worry about somebody walking in but if I preferred it, she’d unlock it. I was so overwhelmed at that point that I could hardly talk.
‘You rule this appointment’, the consultant starts. ‘You’re the queen.’
Once it’s all over I thank him.
‘Why?’ he asks. ‘I didn’t do anything.’
Even though he did everything.
Afterwards I tell her how much I appreciated her being there, that she asked about the lock and how much it meant to me that she had sat next to me instead of sitting next to the doctor.
I have a thing about everybody else in the room sitting on the opposite side to me. To me it means that I’m under threat, accused of something. I would’ve been out the door in two seconds. She listens intently.
I fill in their feedback form. I mention the receptionist, Sammy, on it because she was wonderful as well.
I got sent to another hospital. Denise tells me to call her when I get the appointment and she will make a call to the treatment team to make sure there will be a nurse in attendance who has experience in matters of this nature.
I can hardly walk out of the building. I’ve done surprisingly well. I usually can’t handle people being nice to me. It’s not until I get on the bus that I start crying.
Just because nothing was a lot to ask.