This is why.
(CN: trauma, medical trauma, c-PTSD symptoms, nonconsensual gynecology)
In 2001, I underwent my first surgery with general anesthesia. The surgery was on my left knee. I woke up in the hospital to find a piece of iodine-stained gauze lying over my vulva and vagina. I already had c-PTSD from sexual assault and medical trauma — c-PTSD that was relatively untreated at that point — so my immediate reaction to finding the gauze was fear and silence. But something in my subconscious registered the incident.
I began having nightmares about a combination of sensation and sound that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, as though it were familiar and yet on the other side of an impenetrable fog. The nightmare combination crossed into when I was awake and would come at me at what seemed to be unrelated times: some involving my genitals, some involving the sound of metal on metal, and others.
It wasn’t until 2014 that I finally spoke to any of my doctors about it. That person happened to be someone on my mental healthcare team. She encouraged me to contact the hospital to get access to my records, to speak with the surgeon if necessary — to find out if my unconscious body had been used as a gynecological training utensil. It had, after the surgery I had signed off on had been completed. It’s possible the anesthesia was wearing off a bit by the time my body was used to teach a gynecological exam without my explicit informed consent. It’s possible that my mind started to register some of that exam. All chances, yes, but according to the doctor who performed my surgery, those chances are all likely.
Having subconscious body memories of having cold, hard materials shoved into my vagina and of having that followed by a scraping sensation on the walls of my vaginal canal… Well. You want to fuck with someone’s head? This is one of the most sadistic ways I can imagine to do so — and I’m not exaggerating. My head is f-u-c-k-e-d up from this. When I have body memories of trauma, this is more likely to be the source, more likely than every assault I have experienced. When I have feelings of sexual shame, this is most likely to be the source. When I hesitate to be in close quarters with someone I don’t know, this is the source; of all the times I have been assaulted, this was the only time when I have had absolutely no idea who the perpetrator was. When I have fear of being physically, sexually hurt, of being sliced open and worse — and these fears come up more than I like to admit — this is the source.
We need to put an end to anesthetized bodies being used as training tools when explicit consent has not been given. We especially need to put an end to using anesthetized bodies to teach gynecological exams. To do this, we have to replace the practice with GTAs (Gynecological Teaching Assistants) or something similar. To get there, we need education and advocacy on this topic. At Your Cervix is trying to help us get there.
I urge you to join me in donating to this documentary to help bring about these needed changes.