*TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVORS. Also, I curse a bit in this one.
I can’t believe I’m writing this.
Yesterday, I endured what I would say was the worst medical appointment in my 47 years. And what I’m about to share has nothing to do with test results regarding the mass on my cervix (still waiting and still undergoing). That honestly feels like the least of my worries after the trauma inflicted yesterday.
I don’t think I’ve cried that hard in years. I still get teary thinking about what happened when a doctor, who came recommended by three of my friends, ended up being the personification of the man who raped me when I was five and the incredibly abusive predator who gave me HPV when I was 40. During the exam, I was transported back to being raped as a five-year-old.
Thank God Scott was with me in the room.
Here’s how it went down…
I woke up at 3am yesterday, nervous about the exam. That’s not uncommon for me (or countless other sexual abuse survivors) before a pelvic exam. I kept reassuring myself that this doc seemed to be loved by multiple women I know. Even though he was the first male gynecologist I’ve scheduled an appointment with in twenty years, I had hope.
“He’s caring…he’ll listen to you.”
“He’s a little nerdy but he took good care of me when he did my hysterectomy.”
(I’m so glad my friends had a good experience with him, I really am. They are amazing, caring, wonderful women and I’m grateful they told me about their experiences with him.)
All of what I heard—coupled with my own intuitive feelings about being guided (for some reason) to this particular doctor—led me to believe I’d feel respected and safe.
From the moment he walked into the room, I knew I was in trouble. He seemed anything but compassionate. Still, I respectfully asked if I could share a little bit about my personal history, my family history, and my wish for accommodations for next steps (i.e., if he planned to cut anything out of me while I was awake, I asked to have twilight sedation).
I even put notes on my phone and sent them to Scott so he knew what I was sharing and could support or add to if I forgot anything. As soon as I starting telling the doc about the rape I endured as a five-year-old, I teared up. It shocked me because I talk about this quite often, and most times don’t feel emotional about it. It’s just a fact in my life. This time, the minute I told him about the rape, I got choked up. Scott comforted me and jumped in sharing the next thing on my list while I pulled myself together.
Eventually, I jumped back in sharing the rest of my personal healthy history including PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) diagnosis and treatment for 20 years, my new diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease, and then I went on to share my family’s personal health history.
Finally, I asked about twilight sedation and said that, depending on what was found, I would be more than okay with a hysterectomy. Some women have strong feelings about having their parts removed. I’m not one of those. Frankly, it had already been offered to me as a solution to my PCOS issues ALONE when we lived in LA but I think we were between jobs (and healthcare) back then. My sister’s OBGYN offered a hysterectomy, too, but she opted for a uterine ablation first.
When I talked to the doc about PCOS, he (without any info, test results, etc) told me I likely didn’t have PCOS, saying it was over-diagnosed 20 years ago. Enter gut punch number one. Then, as I shared more and told him I purposely got off of birth control pills (the go-to treatment for PCOS) because I’d been on them for so long, and with my increased risk for breast cancer given my mom’s history, I didn’t want to add to my risk.
“It won’t increase your risk.” Gut punch number 2.
What the actual FUCK!?! A simple Google search returns thousands of studies detailing the exact opposite, especially in women who are near or in perimenopause.
He droned on clearly wanting to school me even though I wasn’t schooling him at all. I wasn’t even pushing back. I was simply listening. At one point, while we talked about my mom’s hysterectomy, he told me it was unlikely he would do that and asked if I knew that a hysterectomy was a surgery. Yup, I’m NOT AN IDIOT. I'm 47-years-old, have had two children via c-section, and built an internationally-known company from my garage. I know what surgery is and I know many women my age with my ailments and my personal history get them all the time. Other doctors I know in other states even suggested that a radical hysterectomy might be the best thing for me.
But not this guy. He’d rather I take birth control pills (that could increase my chances of getting breast cancer) in order to treat “bad periods” even though I’ve been diagnosed multiple times with PCOS, a disorder known to increase risk of ovarian cancer. Oh, and then there’s the not-so-little mass that brought me to him. I have HPV, which causes nearly all cervical cancers.
By this time, the heat was rising in me and I knew our visit was going south, and fast.
The point of no return came in the form of me trying to wrap my head around his “you don’t have PCOS” statement. I asked what the treatment might be to help make my horrendous periods every month a little easier if I indeed didn’t have PCOS.
The answer: Birth control. Then when I asked about a secondary treatment form, he threw out “IUD”. I involuntarily started shaking my head no and wrinkling up my nose as to say “nah, that’s not an option for me.” (NOTE: This is pretty common if you’re a sexual abuse survivor—you don’t want anything installed up there!)
In a shaming, condescending tone, he replied to my nonverbal no with, “No…No….don’t dismiss any of it before hearing the options fully.”
Tears welled in my eyes as I turned my head from the doctor to Scott, who was sitting in the chair next to me. Scott later said that he was about to stand up and step in, even before Dr. Ego became incredibly condescending. My pleading, teary eyes gave him the opening he needed.
Scott jumped up out of his chair and started rubbing my back, asking me if I was okay. I couldn’t speak, I just started sobbing while I leaned into his chest. Then I heard Scott ask Dr. Ego if he has ever worked with trauma survivors. His answer was par for the course: “Yes, of course, there are many survivors who don’t even know they’ve been abuse.”
No shit, asshole. I was one of those until I was 40. He didn’t know that because he wasn’t listening to me at all. In fact, he seemed confused when I started getting upset after he shamed me for knowing I did not want an IUD.
“Is it what I suggested…do you not like my suggestions?”
Through tears, I managed to say, “No, it’s the WAY you’re talking to me…the way you’re treating me. It’s your tone. I have so many friends who have said they loved working with you….” My voice trailed off as I finally couldn’t even speak anymore because I was crying so hard.
Finally, he downshifted from condescending asshole to asshole who knew he needed to ACT like he had an ounce of compassion in him.
“Is there any way we can just take a quick look at that mass and get a pap?” he asked in a quieter voice.
I continued to sob while Scott wrapped his arms around me with tears in his eyes.
Even in that moment, I recognized that Little Kiersten was the one who was reacting so violently. She was scared to death. I stared at Scott trying to find the courage to go through with an exam and somehow mustered a yes, knowing that I needed the pap and the pelvic ultrasound he was ordering for me. Once I had them, I could take those results to someone else. Someone with a fucking soul.
As I leaned back on the exam table, Scott held me the best he could while I gripped his arms like I was Rose hanging onto the floating door in Titanic. Wailing, I tried my best to put my feet in the stirrups. My legs locked up. My right hip started cramping. As usual, I had already asked for the smallest speculum because that’s what I always do. Exams are always somewhat painful no matter what, but yesterday, when he cranked open the speculum, I felt like I was being stabbed.
I sobbed uncontrollably while he performed a pap smear and took a quick look at the mass.
I felt like I was being raped….again.
When I was raped as a five-year-old, I dissociated in order to survive. It's pretty common. All you have to do is Google childhood sexual abuse and disassociation, and bam...it's there.
In that moment, I felt what my inner child felt when I was five. I did not want this asshole near me let alone in me. I continued to sob as pain coursed through my entire body until it was finally over. It probably lasted five minutes, but it felt never-ending.
I don’t remember much of what happened after that other than Scott helped me get dressed while I continued to sob. As we walked out of the office, the nurses were asking if I was okay and if I needed water or a quick sit-down. I was surprised I didn’t pass out, honestly. (I passed out twice during the exam last week.)
If I hadn’t been crying so hard, I would have said that I just needed to get the fuck out of there. It took hours for me to finally calm down enough to talk a little.
It wasn’t until I was talking with my friend, Cynthia, before bed last night that I had an aha moment. Maybe the purpose in what I endured yesterday morning had everything to do with feeling what I had repressed as a child.
Speaking of, my tail bone is so sore and has been for a week. I’ve never felt this before. I haven’t injured it, that I know of, and the only thing I can surmise is that both pelvic exams are related to the pain. It’s intensifying as I write this.
Maybe my tailbone pain represents memories of physical pain I endured as a kid. Maybe I just pulled something. Maybe getting choked up while telling Dr. Ego about being raped was actually Little Kiersten telling me she was terrified. Maybe this healing I expected from him happened, just in a way I didn’t expect. Maybe I’m reaching.
What I do know for sure is that all of this is coming to a head for my complete healing, both emotionally and physically.
What I also know for a fact is that it will be a cold day in hell before I go anywhere near Dr. Ego or that office ever again. I’m already in the process of finding a new gynecologist. And, in time, I will write reviews online and will send a personal letter to him. (Reach out to me privately and I’ll tell you who it is.)
Women of Flagstaff, you deserve better. You deserve a compassionate doctor no matter if you’re a trauma survivor or not.
I know I’m not the only one who endured this type of treatment by a gynecologist. And I know I won’t be the last. I’m hoping that by writing about it, it’s not only helping me process the pain and trauma, but it will open the door for others to talk about and process their own pain as it relates to the countless Dr. Egos out there practicing medicine.
*I will keep you all posted as I get test results and move forward with a plan.
News of a Mass
Even in Dark Times, There is Light
After I shared what happened this past week regarding a mass my doctor found on my cervix, I received a kind, supportive message from a friend of mine. Gretchen and I haven’t seen each other in years and we don’t talk regularly, but ever since we met four years ago at a party, I knew she was one of those special, soulful people that lights up every room she enters.
When Gretchen heard the news of the mass, she reached out asking if the doctor I mentioned that I’m seeing this week was the same one she saw for her hysterectomy. Indeed, he is the same doctor. She offered to tell me about her experience with him so I called her up and we spoke for an hour.
I never could have predicted what happened during the call.
While she told me that I’d unknowingly been paired with the best gynecological surgeon in town, she also shared that she, too, had endured childhood sexual abuse. And she endured painful cervical procedures. Turns out, she also suffered from polycystic ovarian syndrome (like me) for many years until her hysterectomy.
It seems what my grandmother (in spirit) and Jason (in spirit) told me about stored trauma in the body creating physical issues is pretty spot on. I never doubted it, honestly, but what are the odds that I meet someone with a similar journey and the exact same medical issues?
During our conversation, Gretchen mentioned her mother who passed away a year and a half ago. As I listened to her talk about her mom, I immediately felt Karen come into the room. Chills raced up and down the left side of my body—my sign that a spirit who has crossed into the light wants my attention. (When I feel chills up the right side of my body, I know the spirit has not crossed into the light. I share more about this in my upcoming book.)
I’ve been channeling spirit since I was 36-years-old, but most of the time I channel children in spirit. It’s rare for me to talk with someone about a deceased loved one (adult) and feel that loved one step in unless there is some connection to abuse, murder, sudden death, or suicide. 95% of the channeling I do involves children who are on the other side.
In my mind’s eye, I saw Karen’s outstretched arms holding a bundle of yellow daisies. When Gretchen finished talking about her beautiful mother, I told her what I was picking up—that her mom had just popped in and presented an image I felt strongly I needed to share. Gretchen thanked me for telling her what I saw saying that she related to the message, especially given the fact that Karen was an avid gardener. It’s where Gretchen got her love for digging in the dirt as well.
I never met Karen, nor did I know anything about her other than she succumbed to Alzheimer’s Disease, but I suspected she was an amazing woman given that she’s Gretchen’s mother.
“Kiersten, when my mom was alive, she was a marriage and family therapist who specialized in working with sexual predators. She even went into prisons and worked to help rehab pedophiles and sexual predators."
My jaw hit the floor.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. No wonder she came through to me. I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor who has worked (as a volunteer intuitive medium) on cold cases involving children who were abused and murdered by pedophiles. I also unknowingly fell for a man who turned out to be an abusive malignant narcissist and sexual predator—one that I have a restraining order against. My story is full-circle, to say the least.
And now, here I was in this incredibly full-circle moment.
I couldn’t believe that we both worked to stop sexual predators. Of course, I don’t work the same way Karen did, but still, our mission is now and forever the same: ending sexual abuse. I applaud her efforts to do what I’m sure few dare to do. What an incredible warrior she was...and still is.
Shortly after Gretchen’s mom came and went, we talked a little longer about what I will likely face in my appointment this Thursday. Gretchen helped me feel at ease about the doctor we share, the process, the surgery, and the aftermath.
I am enormously grateful to these two incredible angels. Gretchen and Karen, you have touched my life in ways I can never fully express.
And you’ve shown me, once again, that even in dark times there is light.
Related: Nate's Story (Spirit Story) and TEDx Talk
I’ve vacillated multiple times about whether I should share what I’m about to share. Ultimately, I decided to talk about this part of my journey as it unfolds. And include all of its hard, embarrassing, jaw-dropping nuggets of truth.
So here goes…
Three days ago, a doctor found a mass on my cervix. Not a small, strain-to-see kind of mass, but rather a mass that made itself known immediately.
What led me to the doctor’s office wasn’t a list of symptoms or a feeling that I might have something wrong with my cervix. It was a fear that a tampon had gotten “lost.” I didn’t really have any proof other than the occasional sensation that something felt off. Even though we women don’t talk about it openly, the accidental lost tampon is something that has happened to countless women.
After I finally realized I needed a professional to step in, I donned my cloak of shame and jumped in the car next to Scott. When I got to Planned Parenthood, because I couldn’t get into my regular OBGYN clinic, I sheepishly told them what I thought was happening. The front office person didn’t seem phased at all. Still, I felt pretty embarrassed by it all.
While waiting for the doctor to come in, I sat perched on the exam table thinking about how much I HATED these types of appointments, and how much I wished my husband could have been in the room with me. He's normally by my side holding my hand because he knows how hard it is from me as a sexual abuse survivor. Because of COVID, he wasn’t allowed in, so he waited in the car.
The doctor and nurse team made me feel a little more comfortable by telling me that what I thought I’d done is pretty common. I also warned them that I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor which makes me, even at the age of 47, want to run from OBGYN visits.
They talked me through what they were doing up until the room went silent. I instantly knew something was wrong. After a minute or so, the doctor spoke.
“Kiersten, I do not see a tampon…but I do see a mass on your cervix.”
I was rendered speechless just before the tell-tale signs that I was going to pass out moved through my body. I did my best not to faint while she continued to poke around. The pain I felt from the exam wasn’t helping; the room started to spin.
After asking if I was okay, she continued, “In addition to the mass I see, a normal cervix is supposed to be spongy when pressed on but yours is hard. You need to get to your gynecologist right away. Do you have a history of cancer or cervical cancer in your family?”
As I gathered the strength to sit up and answer her now that she was done with the exam, I immediately regretted it.
“I need to lie back down…I think I’m going to pass out.”
She comforted me as I did my best to stay conscious. After a few minutes, the world stopped spinning and I was able to answer her question.
“Yes, many in my family have had cancer. My mom has had breast cancer twice, and I remember that she also had a hysterectomy due to pre-cancerous cells. My dad survived a rare form of eye cancer 20 years ago….”
And then it hit me. My grandma. Oh my god, my Grandma Pennington came to me in spirit a month ago and just stood by my side of the bed. She didn’t say a word but I could feel a sense of protection and warning. I naively thought it was about staying COVID-free and didn’t press her for more because I was dog tired that night.
When Grandma was in her late twenties, she had her cervix removed.
I relayed the bit about Grandma to the doctor and she reiterated that she’d be writing up a referral for me to be seen by my clinic ASAP. Her expression spoke volumes showing me that she knew exactly what I was likely facing.
I had already told her that the man I was with while Scott and I were separated had, according to my primary doctor, given me HPV since it had never showed up on my tests prior to him coming into my life. In all my years, I’d only had one irregular pap after Scott and I got back together. And it culminated in a coloscopy. The results came back in 2017 as normal. I was okay, according to my gynecologist.
And now, three years later, I'm not okay.
What hit me like a ton of bricks wasn’t the realization that the HPV was likely the cause of this mass, but rather a memory of a message from one of my guides in spirit (Jason) that happened back in September of 2020. He told me that I needed to put my manuscript away (even though my literary agent was still shopping it with publishers) because I would be adding to it in 2021 before I’d land a book deal. I didn’t know what he was talking about regarding what else I’d add. Nor did I want to believe that he was right about having to wait longer for publishing contract. I’d hoped that one would come by the end of 2020 but it never did.
This. This was what I was supposed to write about. While this revelation didn’t quell my fear of cancer, it did explain what Jason meant four months ago.
After making an appointment for next week with my regular clinic, I dove down the rabbit hole of Google. And I almost threw up before closing my laptop. Immediately after, I picked up my phone to relay the news to my dear friend (and fellow psychic medium) Cynthia Spiece.
She calmed my fear when she immediately started channeling both my Grandma Pennington and Jason. Both had messages for me about why this was happening. And why the mass is here to help me rather than hurt me.
In a nutshell, they said that the sexual trauma I endured at the hands of two sexual predators (one when I was 5 and one when I was 40) had led to unresolved trauma that was stuck in my pelvic region. I am no stranger to gynecological issues having been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome years ago, but I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I’ve quite literally been carrying the scars of the trauma I endured (and the disease I got from the second predator) in my pelvis. Every minute of every day. And now, I’m finally at the point where I can heal the unresolved trauma by removing those parts from my body.
I’ll know more next week but given my family history and my personal health history, I will likely undergo a radical hysterectomy as well as have my cervix removed.
“You will be okay, Kiers. You were guided to find this right now,” Jason reassured me. “It’s the final piece of healing and the final piece that needs to be added to your book.”
Hearing Cynthia and other trusted intuitive mediums relay the same message was calming to say the least. The “phantom tampon” (as my agent calls it) was indeed guiding me to see a professional when I did.
Before Cynthia and I hung up, I asked her one more question about the doc I will see next week. You see, he’s a man and I haven’t seen a male gynecologist since Grace was born. I was nervous about seeing a male doc given my history of abuse but he was the only one who could fit me into his schedule.
“Kiers, you actually NEED a man to help spearhead your physical healing. A caring man who is the farthest thing from a predator that will finally help rid you of the trauma. Do you see how full circle this is?”
I knew she was right because as I stood there listening to her, tears streamed down my face.
Full circle healing, indeed.
Turns out, I like this new doc already. He's allowing Scott to accompany me to the appointment next week—something they aren't letting anyone else do. Because I told them I am a sexual abuse survivor, he recognizes how important it is that I have my husband by my side during the exam.
I’m sharing this experience on my blog because one in four women is sexually abused in her lifetime. And many of us, myself included, don’t connect trauma to physical ailments that arise long after the abuse is over.
I will be sure to keep you in the loop over the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you are a sexual abuse survivor who is dealing with issues in the pelvic region/kidneys/bladder, etc, I hope you’ll think about my story and possibly find it helpful as you move through the stages of healing.
Also, once again, spirit came in to help me understand the next chapter in my healing journey.
And the final chapter in my book.
**Thank you to Cynthia Spiece, Steph Arnold, Egan Griffith, Yvette Godfrey for passing intuitive messages to me and keeping me sane through this, and thank you to my friends and family who are being so incredibly supportive and loving.
***To those of you who read my blog and are survivors of abuse at the hands of my uncle (or any pedophile) as well as the man I was with from 2014-2017 who turned out to be a predator in his own right, please consider that if you're having physical issues in your pelvic region that you might want to check out the New York Times Bestseller, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D. And of course, you can always reach out to me privately.