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#222454 - 05/04/08 05:16 PM Overwhelming Fears Of Invasive Medical Procedures
jcf1957 Offline

Registered: 09/11/07
Posts: 192
Loc: North Of The 49th Parallel
Being a male rape victim gang raped; brutally tortured, beaten and sodomized at the hands of sadistic bullies always brings terrifying memories and fears that can sometimes seem unrelenting. I'm not really sure what recollections you guys here have personally contemplated when it comes to the yearly physical at the doctors office. In particular I'm paraphrasing ("the dreaded prostate rectal exam"). Not something I think most men would rather think about when your family physician deems it a necessary criteria.
If you happen to be over forty it becomes an annual ritualistic medical requirement. Lets be honest guys; I don't think any of us older guys look forward to this embarrassing exam, coupled with the fact of having your testicles checked out at the same time. If you happen to be a male rape victim suffering with P.T.S.D., such an invasive medical procedure can trigger the onset of strong painful memories of the past. As for me; I get extremely nervous if my family doctor schedules a full physical. My new family doctor is female. Yeah she is aware about my traumatic rape past. Not quite sure if she is really that sympathetic though. For most doctors faced with carrying out this invasive procedure; it's all about routine professionalism and the mundane business at hand. No pun intended. I would think the average doctor takes a nonchalant professional attitude when carrying out prostate exams. Hell; do they ever give a second thought about how the patient feels about being on the receiving end of this invasive procedure ? Not a damned chance that I have witnessed. I'm sure some men here can speak about some bad experiences with doctors performing such exams. I don't know; am I the only male rape victim who entertains strong fear of having to go through this. I hate having to talk about this embarrassing topic like no tomorrow.

My health is not the best struggling with health related issues such as cardiac problems and being an insulin dependant diabetic which has caused me to develope kidney problems. Recently; my family physician has referred me to see a urologist who wants to perform some invasive bladder test. I think they call it a cystoscopy. If you only knew how much extreme fear I'm having about this. How the hell do I confront these fears. I'm almost thinking of neglecting these test.
I wish I could fight off my torturous memories of my rape. I detest any man touching my privates, doctors included. What am I to do ?

Edited by jcf1957 (05/05/08 03:39 AM)
No affliction nor temptation, no guilt nor power of sin, no wounded spirit nor terrified conscious should induce us to despair comfort from God.

Today well lived...makes every tomorrow a vision of Hope.

#222461 - 05/04/08 05:38 PM Re: Overwhelming Fears Of Invasive Medical Procedures [Re: jcf1957]

Registered: 02/13/04
Posts: 983
There is a non evasive prostate exam that can be done with a cat scan . You have the rite to tell your doctor that you refuse to have a rectal prostate exam . NO ONE can make you do any thing that you do not want to do. I don't care if they have several medical licenses. They are not sticking any thing in my ass.



"All I can do is be me, whoever that is"

#222475 - 05/04/08 06:22 PM Re: Overwhelming Fears Of Invasive Medical Proced [Re: jcf1957]
chrty Offline
New Here

Registered: 04/13/08
Posts: 27
Loc: new york

Edited by ModTeam (05/05/08 04:34 AM)

#222507 - 05/04/08 11:30 PM Re: Overwhelming Fears Of Invasive Medical Procedures [Re: chrty]
ak Offline

Registered: 01/10/04
Posts: 1491
One of my abusers was a doctor, and I was always very afraid of any doctors since then. But it is what we must do. I had diagnosis of testicle cancer last year, and had to have removal and treatment. This is several years after having lymphoma and having to have lymph nodes removed from near same area. It is terrible, very scary thing. But it is what must be done.

We been already abused once in the past. To refuse to do medical treatment for health issues, it is like to allow that past abuse to continue. It is almost as like, we are abusing ourselfs 'for' them, because they are not in physical control of us no more, so we do it for them instead. I just can not do that no more. They had the chance to abuse me and even kill me then. I am not going to do it for them now.

Perhaps this procedure they are doing, they can do it with you more sedated, so you are not aware? But that could be more frightening, to feel not in control in it or such. Only other thought I have is perhaps a close friend or family person can be with you for it.

I just hope you are able to go through with the procedure, and do what is necessary and better for you.


#222519 - 05/05/08 12:14 AM Re: Overwhelming Fears Of Invasive Medical Procedures [Re: ak]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5781
Loc: Lyons, CO USA
From my (as of yet unpublished) book for survivors:

Chapter 20

Fear of Dentists and Doctors

Men are generally not good patients of doctors and dentists. It has been said by many wives and parents that it is next to impossible to get some men (and teenage boys) to these medical professionals.

Why? It may be because few men, besides exhibitionists and body builders, want other people to see them naked. Sometimes it is okay for his lover to see him naked, but for many survivors, no one can look at his body without him feeling some shame. The discomfort that a lot of men feel having a physical that includes removing one’s clothes and being poked and prodded, is often a disincentive for many, despite the understanding that prevention or early intervention is preferable to treating some illness or problem at an advanced stage.

Although their dentists or doctors have abused some survivors, most who are reluctant to get medical attention are likely to have been abused by someone else and the abuse may have involved oral or anal penetration. A physician who is examining the genitals or rectum of the patient may unwittingly be re-enacting some of the touch that the survivor experienced years ago. For many survivors, the thought of going through that experience again may mean putting off any examination or procedure that feels similar to the abuse.

The medical professional is, in some ways, taking on the role of the abuser. The professional is in a position of authority. It is his office, you are the patient, and you are expected to follow orders or directions. The doctor or dentist is pretty much in control of the appointment. If he is running late and you have to wait, there is little you can do except leave. You generally are expected to comply with the directions of the professional to take off your clothes or open your mouth, and you could be touched in ways that might cause you to recall previous situations of abuse that were beyond your control.

This recollection might be on the surface of your consciousness and remembered, possibly with the emotions that accompanied the abuse. Or it might be more unconscious, so that you have no connection between the abuse and the medical procedure you are going through. You might not know why you are feeling so scared or uncomfortable, but the feelings are real for you, even though you are likely in no danger today from the medical or dental procedure.

Men who experienced forced oral sex, for example, may have strong reactions to anything placed in their mouth. The dentist, in his position of authority, is probing around your mouth with a mirror and pick. He may pack your gums with cotton wads or insert a latex dental dam. Your saliva can build up and cause a choking sensation. You are fixed in the chair and can’t protest except for grunts and hand motions. The procedure may be painful, and there can be blood as well. Not a pleasant situation to be in.

The physical situation may be reminiscent of the abuse experience. You are lying on your back with someone hovering above you and you are pretty helpless. One survivor wrote:

One of my most horrific memories involved being held by my head, so any dental work is a huge trigger for me. I've been avoiding the dentist for years, even though I know it's a bad move on my part. I hate being controlled by those old fears, but I find it difficult to break free from them. Even the thought of going to the dentist is enough to send me into a near panic.

Another survivor described the dental experience as the same as flying: “I hate the dentist the same way I hate flying. I don't like feeling trapped.” Just as the airline passenger is somewhat trapped in his seat, the patient in the dentist’s chair is pretty much helpless to move about. This can be a strong trigger for some survivors. And, even for those without a history of being abused, the trip to the dentist’s office is not a pleasant experience.

Unless your dentist has abused you, the sensations – both physical and emotional – are likely reminiscent of the abuse you might have endured, although the medical or dental procedure is for your benefit, not the benefit of the abuser.

There are similarities as well with medical doctors. The difference between dental and medical procedures may be life and death. The dentist’s work is necessary for your teeth and gum’s health. Generally, a person who avoids going to the dentist has only his teeth to lose. The person who avoids the physician may actually lose his life if he does not follow recommended medical suggestions or agree to examinations and testing.

For many survivors, the prospect of a physical exam is very upsetting. The medical professional may want you to undress and may touch your genitals, buttocks or anus. If you have been abused, physical contact with these areas or even your body in general may feel very threatening. Although your brain tells you that this is a normal non-abusive procedure, your emotions may be screaming inside as if you are being abused all over again.

I think that most medical and dental professionals are not aware that the person in the chair or on the table in front of them may have childhood sexual abuse issues. I’m sure that many physicians and dentists have the same experiences as you do, but many – if not most – seem to be insensitive to this problem. Awareness of sexual abuse histories is generally not taught in medical or dental schools, to my knowledge. Although there are undoubtedly some doctors and dentists who were victimized as children, they probably push this experience to the back of their minds when in a professional situation.

I am not a survivor, but I’ve had a couple of situations in the past few years that made me feel uncomfortable in physicians’ offices. When I had a colonoscopy a few years ago, I realized that the doctor was going about his business like I either should know what was coming or there was no reason for me to know what to expect. It was my first colonoscopy and I did not know what exactly was going to happen since the doctor was pretty basic in his greeting and preparation for the procedure.

He started the process and I told him that I work with male survivors of sexual abuse and found his lack of preliminary information felt as sudden moves, which were intrusive and somewhat startling. Had I been a victim of anal penetration, I might have had a strong reaction, either physically or emotionally, to what he was doing. He basically thanked me for the input, which I suspected was due more to my status as an assertive patient in his estimation, rather than as an overly sensitive patient or survivor of sexual abuse.

One survivor, in an attempt to educate his doctor wrote:

My urologist asked me about stress in my life. I told him I was working on it. Told him I was seeing a therapist regarding some childhood sexual abuse. I figured this was fairly important to tell him because of issues with scar tissue and pain during a biopsy. He was quite uncomfortable with that info. I asked him if I was the first to ever tell him that. I was. It was a teaching moment. Told him one in every six boys is molested by 16. Told him about MaleSurvivor. Told him he probably needed to be on the look out for symptoms in his line of work. He seemed to not especially grasp it or didn't care. Either one, it was just another small attempt to educate the public about CSA.

If you are fearful of the rectal exam, particularly if you are of the age or have a medical family history where you should be examined, you may die for your avoidance of a colonoscopy or other unpleasant procedure. While this valuable medical course of action is recommended for all men over 50 and also for those younger who have a family history of colon or rectal cancer, many men avoid it because of the intrusive process around their anus. (Although many say that the worst part is the preparation with lots of laxatives and enemas the night before.)

Sometimes, the avoidance or fear of physicians is tied into the belief that they might know about the abuse from doing the examination. We are sometimes brought up with the belief that physicians or others in a position of authority will know what has happened to us. One survivor recounts his childhood experience.

I don't trust doctors. I have a memory of when I was around 6 or 7 and my family doctor examined my genitals. I recall being extremely scared that he'd know what they had been used for by that time... Not only that but being exposed was so uncomfortable. I always feel so intimidated by doctors.

Although most sexual abuse does not leave injuries or scarring, sometimes it does. Some survivors carry the physical damage for many years and are unwilling to go for treatment because of the shame connected with the abuse. This is another example of the legacy of the abuse – it continues to trap and control the survivor long after the abuse ended.

A survivor in his 50s writes: “I have colon surgery coming up to deal with old scarring from when I was a kid, and of course I'm not looking forward to that. But I will do it because I know it's in my best interest.” Apparently, it took many years for him to motivate himself to take care of an old problem. Sometimes, the victim may feel like he was physically damaged, but by refusing to get an examination, he may spend years living in fear that there is still an injury, even when an examination may reveal that there was no damage or that a simple procedure can resolve it.

The doctor-patient relationship is never one of equality. The doctor is generally more educated than you, probably making more money than you, presumably has his life more together than you, and is not your buddy or equal in this relationship. You enter that association feeling a notch or two below where he is. In reality, he may be having a more difficult time than you regarding his life but that is not the condition you generally will be seeing when you come for an appointment on his turf.

For survivors, the abuse took place in an unequal environment. The abuser was stronger, older, and had more resources than you had at the time. That may be the situation that you are feeling with the physician. Even though you might be older than the doctor, he still is in a position of authority and power over you. You might be a powerful person in your job function but when you go to the doctor or dentist’s office, you will hopefully be treated with respect and consideration whether you are a CEO or a sales clerk at the convenience store.

I make the assumption that status as a survivor is not something most medical professionals or their staff knows anything about. A few years ago, I went to my cardiologist’s office for a routine exam. As per the procedures, I was weighed and given a blood pressure exam before seeing the cardiologist. The nurse who took my vitals also got my blood pressure. She was a short, heavy woman who grasped my left arm to take my pressure. She pulled my arm into her crotch to get a good grasp on my arm and I felt a bit uncomfortable thinking that if a female abused me, I might find this seemingly innocent movement to be intrusive.

I mentioned this to my cardiologist (one of eight in the practice which shared clerical and nursing staff) and she said she would pass this on to the other doctors and advise the nurses. The next time I went in for an appointment, the nurse took care to minimize contact. I’ve been there four more times since and have not had the intrusive experience again so I assume the nursing staff got the message, although I don’t think I was singled out as the complainer in this busy practice.

A big problem with survivors is that the discomfort they feel in dealing with medical professionals has kept many from getting the necessary treatment they need to prevent loss of teeth or maintaining medical health. Although the process of preparing for a colonoscopy has turned many men off and discouraged them from having this necessary medical procedure done, the additional issue of fear in the physical exam has put so many more in danger of untreated disease or conditions.

It is important to educate medical professionals about the needs and emotional issues many survivors have. Unfortunately, the profession is not always open to hear about sexual abuse. In my experience, a group of us, led by the then-president of MaleSurvivor, who is a psychiatrist, found that the American Medical Association’s annual conference did not have enough interest in the topic of sexual abuse of males to sustain a workshop for more than 25 medical attendees one year. We received good evaluations from those who attended the workshop, but when we offered it the next year but the Association was not interested, although tens of thousands of physicians attend this important conference.

So, what do you do? If you are an activist, tell your dentist and physicians that they should be sensitive to male survivors. You don’t have to educate them about the statistics or what research says. Simply telling them that you had this problem in childhood is another purposeful disclosure for you. Although some physicians or dentist may not want to hear your message, there are some who will. If you sense that your medical professional is not interested, consider that a grounds for leaving and finding a new one. That may be hard to do, particularly if you live in a place where there are not a lot of doctors or a place where physicians don’t take new patients.

I think it is important to let a dentist or physician know that you have a history of sexual abuse. It is not necessary and I believe that most doctors or dentists won’t have the time or interest in knowing the “gory details” of your abuse. If one should ask you that information, all you need to say is “I’m not ready to talk about that at this time”. That should give them the basic information to be more sensitive and you can tell (or not) the details at a later time, if you wish. My sense is that they probably won’t ask again, but at least you got the message across and they will hopefully act with more sensitivity and understanding.

One survivor recently wrote in a discussion about dentists:

So this morning, had my dentist appointment. I was sooooo nervous I thought I was gonna be sick, So as the dentist comes over I tell him right away that I am extremely nervous and that I am one of those people that fear going to the dentist. I said something that happened in my childhood made me nervous so if he could please tell me what he is going to do before he does it I would be most appreciative. So he says that it’s no problem and if at any time I feel really uncomfortable just wave at him and he will stop.

Then he goes on to question if what happened to me was related to a bad experience at the dentist, and now I have no idea what to say or how to respond. I tried to say that "I am a survivor of ...” I couldn't get myself to “childhood sexual abuse”. So after a short silence, 10 seconds maybe, I say “I was molested when I was a kid”. He just nods his head and says it will be OK. I feel shocked because of what I just said! It was weird, I did not feel ashamed. I felt very relieved for getting that part over with, and somewhat proud of myself for saying it.

Being assertive and speaking up for yourself is very important. As long as you keep the abuse a secret, you are doing what the abuser wanted you to do – keep quiet. There is great power in disclosure, when you are ready. Telling a medical or dental professional may be an easier step than telling others who have a more personal relationship with you. One survivor put it this way:

My own experience with doctors is that now I always say I am a survivor of CSA. In most cases it has gone well and I feel I am treated in a more caring and attentive way. On one occasion, when I told a nurse who was poking at me, she said, “Oh, well okay. I guess we have to think about that”, which struck me as a way of saying, “What are you talking about?” I had caught her by surprise and she wasn’t prepared to hear what I was telling her. But even in that case, never mind: I said it!

When I told my family doctor she was grateful and said that doctors should always be ready for comments like this because it helps them to relate to their patients better. When I return for checkups or anything else now, she always asks me how I am doing in therapy. It’s great to have support like that.

But most importantly, I think, is the fact that when I tell a medical person about my past I am empowering myself and asking for my needs to be met, something I could never do as an abused boy. Being able to do that now, after so many years of feeling doomed, ashamed and condemned to silence, still sometimes overwhelms me.

A survivor I work with recently told me that he first told his wife, then his mother-in-law, then me, then his brother, and later a few friends and colleagues. Then he talked to a reporter for the local paper where the abuse had taken place. This last conversation was six months after he first told his wife. He said the emotional upset he felt from the first disclosure was like night and day when compared to the one with the reporter. The first disclosures were emotional and upsetting. By the time he spoke with the reporter, he was totally comfortable talking about the details that were so difficult in the earlier disclosures. This survivor happens to be a physician who is an anesthesiologist.

Blissfully retired after 35 years treating sexual abuse

#222541 - 05/05/08 02:47 AM Re: Overwhelming Fears Of Invasive Medical Procedures [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
Hi jcf,

I'm 47 and I had a prostate exam a couple of weeks ago due to some symptoms I was having of either an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer. Luckily, it turned out to be the former and I'm on meds now to help it. This was the first prostate exam that I've had and I was very apprehensive about it. My family physician knows about the CSA history in my past, and he was good about talking to me while he was doing the exam - it helped to keep me grounded. But when it came time to do it, basically just grabbed hold of the table with both hands and closed my eyes tight. It was over in about 10 seconds, but that was a mighty long 10 seconds. Please get the test done, it can safe your life if there is prostate cancer. Think of all those who love you and do it for them.


#222564 - 05/05/08 05:12 AM Re: Overwhelming Fears Of Invasive Medical Proced [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
jcf1957 Offline

Registered: 09/11/07
Posts: 192
Loc: North Of The 49th Parallel
Ken; I truly appreciate your interesting and informative input. EGL my overall unnerving health situation "both physical and mental" often places me at odds with doctors and nurses in general with good reason based on bad experiences with the medical profession. I state this without trying to sound off as being cynical or judgmental against the overall medical profession which for the most part I have a lot of respect for. I began my arduous road to recovery five years ago on January 3rd, 2003. Twenty-three years prior to that I buried and blanked-out most of the painful horrors of my rape past for twenty-three years in my subconscious. Looking at hindsight I suspect all those painful horrors and festering memories of my rape past were really at the surface without my resolute sanity permitting my conscious to deal with such extreme pain. It took twenty-three years of life's ups and downs for that emotional ticking time bomb to blow it's fuse causing me to have a major nervous break down five years ago.

My personal critique and prognostication of today's self-professed "can-do-no-wrong" consummate medical profession often places me at odds with the unscrupulous indifferent behaviors of numerous doctors, nurses, and shrinks who are increasingly present in today's overall medical scene, largely due to increasing work load stress, the lack of staff and resources. Don't get me wrong; I'm not black-listing the medical profession. Not many doctors and nurses have the time or patience to listen to a male rape victim who has a differentiating host of fears to address.
Meanwhile; a male rape victim is forced to suck-up his own fears and pain because their are a lot of indifferent people who just don't give a rats ass about someone else's struggling painful problems and legitimate worries.
In the end due to personal health reasons I am forced to deal with the indignity of having invasive medical procedures without any doctor or nurse truly listening to my fears and concerns.

Edited by jcf1957 (05/05/08 12:29 PM)
No affliction nor temptation, no guilt nor power of sin, no wounded spirit nor terrified conscious should induce us to despair comfort from God.

Today well lived...makes every tomorrow a vision of Hope.

#222585 - 05/05/08 12:51 PM Re: Overwhelming Fears Of Invasive Medical Proced [Re: jcf1957]
Still Offline

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 7011
Loc: FEMA Region 1
My MD has done two prostate exams since I disclosed to him. He would not force the issue, but really encouraged me to go through with it. He suspended the idea of a genital exam until I'm "doing better" with all this CSA stuff. He knew I would be in big mental trouble if he went ahead with that (I've only allowed it once in my adult life).

They (MD and Surgeon) wanted to do a colonoscopy because of the seven years of regular abuse. They asked about bleeding back then and I told them it was near-constant with BMs and occasional otherwise. They were clearly concerned. The colonoscopy has been scheduled twice and canceled twice.

It sounds like all this med-fear is a vivid common denominator between us all.

And Ken, the factors of naked exposure are so severe with me, I found ways to wriggle out of gym class and group showers all throughout Jr High and High School. I would have quit school before I would be seen naked by other students.

#222594 - 05/05/08 02:10 PM Re: Overwhelming Fears Of Invasive Medical Proced [Re: Still]
Freedom49 Offline

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 2724
Loc: Washington State
I had disclosed to my MD at my physical exam and he was very sympathetic. I under stand being in the medical field the importance of this embarassisng and unpleasant procedure but my doctor was amazing. He was gentle, took his time preparing me and was quick. It was not uncomfortable or embarassing and I have no problems now having him do that exam. Dentists I have had problems with but since disclosing to him things have gone better there too. Hang in there guys there are compassionate caring MD's out there.

#222616 - 05/05/08 05:09 PM Re: Overwhelming Fears Of Invasive Medical Proced [Re: Freedom49]
jcf1957 Offline

Registered: 09/11/07
Posts: 192
Loc: North Of The 49th Parallel
I appreciate the support. I had a lot of respect for my last family doctor who retired just over a year ago. I had him for thirty years. He was very understanding and compassionate about my past which I revealed to him in painstaking detail in an addressed letter. He was not only the best doctor I ever had, but; a respected friend. It's damned difficult when you build up a trusting relationship with a professional doctor only to sadly see him retire because of being overworked and burnt-out due to a shortage of doctors. He now devotes his efforts in the palliative care unit at the local city hospital. My new family physician; a female who took over my former family doctors practice is difficult to relate to. She is strictly business and emotionally stoic. I don't consider myself a bigot in any shape or form. But; are Pakistani women moody or what ? I don't even have the luxury of finding another physician.
I have no qualms about seeing a female physician if only her disposition would grant more pliancy and candor. Damn get a life why don't she. They say if you want to understand the virtue of humility. Be prepared to be humiliated. I've felt humiliated for almost thirty years.

Edited by jcf1957 (05/05/08 05:19 PM)
No affliction nor temptation, no guilt nor power of sin, no wounded spirit nor terrified conscious should induce us to despair comfort from God.

Today well lived...makes every tomorrow a vision of Hope.

#222903 - 05/06/08 10:22 PM Re: Overwhelming Fears Of Invasive Medical Procedures [Re: jcf1957]
pufferfish Offline

Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6875
Loc: USA
I had a colonoscopy a couple of years ago. They adjusted the anesthetic so that I was not aware of anything.

The prostate palpation occurs with the yearly checkup. I at one time had severe PTSD but a T helped me. His technique was quite simple.

The T asked me: "Are you aware at all that you are not really there (as a child)?" This broke the bubble for me. I was able to inject my conscious mind into that PTSD thing and that made the bubble pop - like the disguise of the Wizzard of Oz.

#222957 - 05/07/08 03:45 AM Re: Overwhelming Fears Of Invasive Medical Procedures [Re: pufferfish]
johnnymike Offline

Registered: 03/08/08
Posts: 56
Loc: Central Ohio
I work as a caregiver and this Friday I will be taking the gentleman to the urologist for a cystoscopy. The urologist said he will be injecting some numbing lubrication into the urethra and then will be inserting a probe to examine the prostate. This is not a rectal exam.

I have shared with my doctor both my childhood and adult abuse. He now mentions what he thinks he needs to check and I can tell him when I am ready for it. I find it easier when I decide when the time is right.

I can not drag myself to the dentist. I was working part time in retail when my dentist came in to shop. I told him I would like to make an appointment and explain my issues and why I have not been able to see him. In the midst of the conversation I began to tear up and feel shame. Of course I have never followed through.

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