It took a few days for the realization to dawn on me.
“I need to make a doctor’s appointment,” I muttered half to myself and half to my mom, who was helping me sift through the rubble of my life. “I need to make sure that on top of everything else, he didn’t infect me with anything.”
The thought was horrifying. Mortifying. Infuriating.
I had only been with one man my entire life. This was not something I ever thought I would have to face.
Yet there I was.
Two weeks after the collapse, I walked into my doctor’s office. I was lucky. My provider, technically a nurse-midwife, had taken care of my annual visits for years. She knew me and I felt comfortable with her. It helped a little to counteract the immense humiliation I was feeling at being thrown into this situation without my knowledge or permission.
When she saw my drawn face, my trembling limbs and my emaciated figure, her mothering instinct took over. “Oh Lisa,” she sighed, pulling me in for a hug. Then, mother to mother, she hugged my mom, who (by my request) had accompanied me to a pelvic exam for the first time since middle school.
While my parts were checked and my blood was drawn, my provider kept talking to me in a soothing voice and kept a comforting hand on my arm or hand the entire time.
And then the waiting game really began. And along with it, the anger. Because it was easier to feel than the fear. Finally, I got the call.
“Everything looks good,” she said.
I felt relieved. At least my body would be okay. If only my heart could be cleared so quickly.
The dreaded doctor’s appointment is one more thing in an endless list of what is unfair about being cheated on. It’s yet one more way that we are left to clean up the mess they made.
The emotions involved run the gamut from confused (after all, if you’ve been monogamous for awhile, you tend to lose touch with what diseases are out there and what the implications are) to anger (how could they act with such reckless abandon when it comes to my health?!?). In between are often shame (because for some reason, we feel humiliated by their actions even when they don’t) and fear (are they going to curse me with a lasting physical reminder on top of everything else?). I know I also felt violated. This was not something I had consented to.
It’s a lonely feeling. An isolating one.
Yet it’s familiar to everyone who has ever discovered an unfaithful spouse.
It’s not fair. But it’s a necessary step.
Even though your partner didn’t take care of you, YOU need to take care of you.
I hope that your medical providers are as compassionate as mine were.