So you don't like the term "rape culture" because you think it's demeaning to men, insulting to men that women are encouraged to feel so afraid of them and get defensive around them, it punishes the innocent, and all the reports of rape are minority cases blown out of proportion? Fine. Go ahead and think that. And let the stomach-clenching fear that's running through my body get silenced because you don't want to hear how much your dismissal of serious issues frightens me, because when it comes down to it, you may not be the person doing the rape, but you are the person dismissing that the rape is as big a problem as people are saying it is.

Let me say it loud and clear: rape is a problem. I don't care if the statistics say that only 0.01% of women get raped a year, because putting that into context, that's 1 in 10,000 women. Doesn't sound like many, right? In my city alone, that would mean that 6-7 women get raped a year. In one city. That has a pretty small population. That would mean that just in my lifetime, almost 200 women would have been raped in this city.

That's being optimistic, though. A study done in British Columbia revealed that 1 in 17 women get raped in their lifetimes. 5.8% of women. Rounding down, that's 5 out of every hundred. In my city, that's 3400. In one small city alone, over the course of a single lifetime.

Does that scare you? Because it sure as fuck scares me! So far, my chances of getting raped in my lifetime are higher than the rate of me getting hired compared to the number of resumes I send out. The percentage is roughly the same as the people in my office who prefer tea to coffee. That kind of statistic should terrify you, not insult you because you're not the one doing the rape.

Think it's not a problem for those women? Think the correct response is to say that the idea that rapists can get away with it in this society is insulting to men? I beg you to look at your ideas a different way.

It's been said before, but it bears repeating. If you think that the idea of rape culture is insulting to men, because most men are not going to rape a person (I say 'person' because I'm not naive enough to think that only women get raped, though they are the vast majority of rape victims), think for a moment outside your own tiny box and wonder how it must feel for a woman. Someone who is taught from childhood that the responsibility of stopping rape lies squarely on her shoulders. Someone who has been given ample reason to fear walking down a street after dark. Someone who grows up being ashamed of her body because the most she hears about it is how it turns men on and they might give in and rape her. Sure, it's not fair to Joe random she sees on the street and crosses to avoid. He might not rape her. He's probably got more on his mind than random sexual assault.

But we don't know. Because people aren't Sims, we don't walk around with our intentions in little bubbles floating above our heads. We have to keep ourselves safe, and that means keeping ourselves from potential harm. We can't wait until you start holding us down and tearing our clothes off to start worrying about the consequences. We have to do our part to keep that situation from even getting started. We are taught to live in a culture of fear. That's another part of rape culture. It's not just about how men are all awful potential-rapists and how they'll get away with it because the law is just a big Boys' Club. It's about the fear that we feel going about our daily lives, the fear that yes, that stranger over there could hurt us, and for no other reason than because he wants to feel good about himself and making us feel like shit is the only way he can think of to do it.

That 1 in 17 statistic is what we have to live with, every day. Walking down the street, going to work, meeting new people, attending a book club, going to a bar, going to school.

A study was done at a university not far from here. Results showed that almost half of the men interviewed would rape a woman if they believed there would be no consequences to themselves.

This is not about you. This is about us. This is about the fear we live with, because men more dickish than you take our power away from us, and we don't know you aren't one of those men.

But if you don't like the idea of rape culture, how about we call it something else. How about "sexual assault culture?" Because in Canada, approximately 33% of women have been sexually assaulted in their lives, and only 6% of them report it to the authorities.

So here's some news for you, if you're curious. I'm in that 6% of people who didn't report it. Which means that at some point in my life, I was sexually assaulted.

Sexually harassed, technically. I was not touched. But I was harassed. Multiple times. By multiple people. And no, I'm not just talking about turning down someone's advances and then trying to hit on me again. Men like that I find creepy, but for the most part, I'm not going to say that was harassment. Mostly because I made a point never to go to that restaurant again, but hey, that's how I'm counting it.

(Okay, if truth be told, I was molested by my babysitter when I was 4. The scariest part is that she likely did that to me because someone was doing it to her. And I did tell my parents about that. They don't remember. I do.)

But sexual assault or harassment culture? That's everywhere. And it's just as insulting to men, because it still assumes that you're all potential dirtbags who are going to make us feel uncomfortable, but it's easier to ignore. On both sides. It's why the high school friend who interrupted conversation with, "Can I touch your boobs? My other friends let me," did not get reported to my parents or the school. It's why I stood for half an hour in the corner to avoid a group of guys pinching my ass in elementary school, and the teacher nearby did nothing to stop it. It's why I was bullied for years by idiots, making fun of me by saying I had my hand down my friend's pants (I was 7 at the time). It's why when a coworker kept making inappropriate jokes about me wanted to see and touch his penis, I was petrified of reporting him, because I didn't want him to get in trouble and then his fiancee, who also worked with me, would be angry at me and then make my worklife hell, and my silence meant he kept up this little joke for over a week, every time I saw him. I was afraid of getting punished for someone else's wrongdoing.

It's why a friend of mine walked into McDonalds one evening and was asked by a random group of guys if she was "a moaner or a screamer."

It's men thinking that this stuff is all in good fun, perfectly acceptible. It's everyone thinking this this is just what happens in life, and you have to toughen up and deal with it. it's people telling you you're making a big deal out of nothing if you do report how uncomfortable it made you. It's these people not getting taught not to to these things, but girls getting taught how to avoid them. It's these people not getting punished for their actions because "they didn't cause harm."

No harm... That must be why, when I was at a completely different job and saw a man who reminded me of the old coworker who harassed me, I had a panic attack and literally ran away and hid in a bathroom stall for half an hour, crying. I don't even know if it was the same man. But he reminded me of that man. That man may have done nothing wrong, and if he'd seen me run when I laid eyes on him, he would have been understandably confused and possibly a little hurt. He can't help the memory that he triggered in me that caused me to relive harassment and emotional trauma.

But that didn't stop the trauma. That didn't stop my panic. That nice little piece of logic that said this guy might not be the one I'm actually scared of didn't matter in the moment, because what mattered was OH GOD THAT MIGHT BE HIM I CAN'T SEE HIM AGAIN I CAN'T STAND IT IF HE TALKS TO ME LIKE THAT AGAIN I CAN'T BE DEGRADED LIKE THAT AGAIN I CAN'T DO THIS I HAVE TO GET AWAY. His fault? Maybe not.

Your fault? Maybe not. And it sucks that you have something in common with the people who have repeatedly hurt us. You could be the nicest guy in the world. You could be the kind of guy who, upon hearing what happened, would gladly go and tear off the nutsacks of the people who hurt us and made us so afraid. But we'll never know. In our heads, at that moment, you are that guy.

It's similar to PTSD, the kind you see in people coming back from war. When people with PTSD have panic attacks and can't handle being around others because they've had so much trauma in their lives, you don't turn around and say to them, "Well, I'm not the one who shot at you, so your fear is insulting me." If you do that, you're a dick. You just don't do that.

And this is what you're doing when you say that rape culture insults men. Yeah, it isn't fair for us to assume that every guy might potentially rape us if given the chance. You're also not the one who dropped bombs on soldiers. Kudos to you for that, by the way. But keeping ourselves safe takes priority over your hurt feelings, and if you're honestly going to claim that your bruised ego is on par with our assaults, then you are a jerk and you don't deserve my respect or sympathy for the situation. What you're doing when you say so is just that. You're telling us to stop talking about it, stop planning for it, stop educating people about it, because your feelings are getting hurt. And your feelings are more important than our safety. Your feelings are more important than our feelings. Your feelings are so important that we should be silent about a serious issue that has, does, and will destroy lives.

Which is bullshit, and I won't ask anyone's forgiveness for saying so.
I've been neglecting this journal. Partly because I've been busy, and partly because I just haven't wanted to deal with a lot of stuff since the surgery and since I've returned to work. I'm capable of working again, which is good. I'm glad of that. But there's still some stuff I need to get off my chest, so I'm back to old habits, returning to a personal journal in the hope that I can get some of this stuff out and maybe that'll help me come to grips with what's been bothering me.

I think the surgery did more damage that I first thought.

Not physically. Mentally. I had moments during the first few months, where I'd suddenly stop and go, "Whoa, somebody cut me open and played around my with insides!" And it felt surreal, and sometimes it freaked me out enough that it was hard to not cry, but I put it all off the being early in the healing process, and still adjusting from lousy health to recovering health, and then pushed it all further aside because hey, I shouldn't be feeling weird about stuff. I'm getting better! I should be happy!

And I was. Am. And will be.

But the dreams...

I've started to have dreams where I'm back in the hospital, and they've figured out that something is still wrong with me or something new is wrong, and they have to keep me there and do tests. And those dreams stress me out, more than I think they should.

I half-woke up one morning last week, only covered in a bedsheet, and in my half-awake state I had the unsettling notion that I was in the hospital, covered only in a sheet again, waiting on the gurney to get wheeled into the OR where they'd cut me open again.

Then there's the matter of medicine. I used to like that dopey sleepy heavy feeling of taking something like NyQuil and falling into a deep and restful sleep. It meant that I'd sleep well, and fall asleep quickly, and rest enough that I'd feel better in the morning than I felt the night before. Now, I feel trepidation when I take anything that has that effect. Why? because the feeling I get from it is a milder but similar version of that second between being injested with anesthetic and falling under, that one second in which I groaned from the sensation and then felt nothing at all.

Which, it hit me all of a sudden about a month ago, was actually the scariest thing I can imagine. Because if something had gone terribly stupidly wrong during the surgery, there'd be no way I'd have known. There was nothing between that groan and waking up later on as they took me into post-op. Not even the vague sensation of time passing. Just a dark void. And if I had died, my last memory would have been of that groan, that sensation, and then nothingness. And that scares the ever-loving hell out of me, and I'm not exaggerating. There are tears in my eyes as I type this, just remembering that realization.

So now taking NyQuil fills me with this unpleasant unreasoning discomfort whereby in my sunconscious, I start fearing falling asleep because part of me associates it with a void of uncertainty and then pain afterward.

This is the shit they don't prep you for when tell you they're cutting you open. Or if they're supposed to, my doctor gave me no such courtesy. I don't know if this is normal, or if I'm overreacting because of various other mental issues I've had to deal with over the years, or what. But it's freaking me the hell out and the dreams and thoughts are getting more common, and I don't know if I should push past them and they'll go away, or if I should be calling my therapist and booking appointments again.

Grief counseling is supposed to work for stuff like this, because what is grief but having to deal with sudden unexpected and unpleasant life changes?

I don't want more dreams about being in the hospital, or about being sick again. I don't want to hate that feeling of actually getting rest and knowing my cold will be better in the morning. Is it even possible for me to deal with this stuff on my own, or should I just cave and get professional help, and then possibly add all this to the complaint about my doctor and why she made numerous mistakes and also didn't prep me for this when she knew my history of mental illness?

Do I blame my brain, her, or both?

And does it even matter?

I hate those dreams.
lighterthanair: Nahadoth, from N K Jemisin's Inheritance trilogy (nahadoth)
This is going to be a long post. For everyone's benefit, I'll cut it into days to make for a bit of easier reading. Also, I will probably talk about some semi-gross things, such as what you have to deal with when you go into the hospital to have your belly sliced open. You have been warned.

Wednesday )

Thursday )

Friday )

Saturday )

Oh, you thought that was the end, did you? )

So this was the last straw. She's being officially reported. All the other stuff was bad enough, but this? She has endangered my health. She has lied. She had dismissed symptoms and delayed treatment which ultimately made the underlying condition far worse than it needed to be. She has belitted and ignored my choices and recommendations and lifestyle again and again. I need some justice here, because she is a foul doctor who doesn't deserve to be seeing people if this is the quality of care she's going to give them. I'm completely disgusted, and ashamed that I ever had to trust her with my health at all.

I see her tomorrow to have the staples removed. If I can't switch my 6-week follow-up appointment to a new doctor, I'll have to see her again, then. But after that, if I can get away with it, I don't want to see her face. I don't want to talk to her. I especially don't want her to have any say on what happens to my body or my health, because all I know now is that she'll either fuck it up or lie about it. Or both. I can't trust her, and the reasons I can't trust her are ones she brought down entirely on her own head.

Lousy fucking bitch.

So that hopefully concludes the surgery saga. If that sore looks bad again later, I may end up back at the ER, but if not, great. I'm hoping for not, but I really don't want an abdominal abscess to spread very far, so again, better safe than sorry. But we'll see.
lighterthanair: (othering)
I was going to write a fairly bland innocuous post talking about random stuff, but instead, I feel a rant coming on.

Someone on Facebook just posted a nice little image talking about how Canada is an awesome country and so many people want to move here, but the changes that these people are demanding are what's ruining the country, and if you're too afraid to speak out against it then you're just as bad as them. Saying that it's the immigrants who have to adapt and change, not Canadians.

This person is someone who seems to also pride themselves on being inclusive and a humanist and quite open-minded.

I am an immigrant to Canada. I came here with my parents, when I was 5 years old, when my father got offered a job. We came here legally. I was enrolled in school legally. I graduated. I work (health-permitting), I pay my taxes, and I enjoy the same responsibilities and privileges as anyone who was born here.

I am not a citizen. I have no interest in becoming a citizen, honestly, because as much as I like Canada, I'm also very proud of being British, and the idea of forsaking that makes me feel very uncomfortable. Even applying for dual citizenship feels dishonest somehow. It's a complicated feeling, but I don't feel right becoming a citizen. I'm happy being a resident.

As a non-citizen, I cannot vote and have no official say in how the country is run. I pay a portion of my paycheque in the Canadian Pension Plan, but to the best of my knowledge am not permitted to draw upon that when I retire, nor can I opt out of paying into it.

This person has not yet answered the question of what laws are being imposed upon her by immigrants such as myself, what rights she's had taken away that immigrants get to enjoy instead.

Probably because there aren't any.

There are some programs set up by the government to aid immigrants. Business grants, that sort of thing. But it's not as though immigrants have greater rights than those who were born here. It's not as thought we're stealing food from the mouths of the native-born. We're not taking school seats from those who've lived here for a few generations already.

I do not ask Canadians to adapt to me just because I want my life to be more comfortable. I do not ask for the government to turn my religious holidays into bank holidays. I do not ask to be paid more. I do not ask for people to change the spellings of certain words to a more British style. I do not ask for laws protecting me while others get ignored. I ask for tolerance and respect, and if that's such a grand adaptation that it will make people bitch and get all pseudo-patriotic about it, then there's a big problem and it's not immigrants.

It's just so much fun to be Othered. I've put up with it since I was 5. I just didn't know there was a word for it until a few years ago. Starting from the way I was not only made fun of but actively bullied for being from another country and having an accent, to being told by a psychiatrist that I deliberately make myself different (regarding the books I read and movies I like and the ways I act and feel and believe -- apparently personal preferences and religious belief are all conscious choices to keep away the norms...), to today being told that immigrants just like me are what's making Canada less great. If it's not one thing, it's another. I count myself lucky that I'm not being Othered due to the colour of my skin.

Fuck this. I need this like a hole in the head. I'm tired of the supposedly smart open-minded people bitching about how people like me are ruining their precious little narrow lives. I'm tired of being the scapegoat, the one who's bullied, the one who's treated like a goddamn novelty because I have an accent and lived in another country for the first 5 years of my life. ("Say something with your accent." "Do they have [common thing] there?" "What's the British word for [thing]?" "Say something with your accent again!") And I'm goddamn tired of people acting like I'm overreacting to their bullshit!

End rant.
lighterthanair: (RAWR!)
I'm really disgusted with how this whole thing has been handled. I'm strongly tempted to report the whole damn thing to someone, because the level of medical neglect hasn't exactly been criminal, but it has been detrimental to my health. In multiple ways.

Let me back up a little. Today's the day I go into surgery to have tissue cut out of my uterus and to have an IUD inserted that will hopefully control my bleeding a bit better.

Problem 1) Dr. S didn't tell me anything about the IUD other than where it goes. She didn't address any side effects or risks until after I'd called her to ask her questions after I'd done my own research. I was particularly concerned that more than 10% of women experience depression, and seeing as how I'd already been treated for that 3 times and suffered from it for years, that was a bit of an issue for me. Also the pain. Also the fact that because for the first 3-6 months a patient with an IUD tends to bleed really heavily, they won't even know if the fucking thing's working for maybe half a year, and if it doesn't, what happens then? None of this was addressed until I asked. Not even a brief mention of, "Sometimes women on this bleed irregularly for a while, and it might hurt a little going in." Nothing. Until I did my own homework.

So flash forward a little more. There were 2 pills, misoprostol, that I had to, er, insert the night before, so last night.

What Dr. S told me: These open the cervix. They're cheap.

What the pharmacist told me: Ignore the fact sheet; the symptoms listed on it are for when you take this stuff orally. Some women may feel mild contractions.

What the surgical prep-team at the hospital told me: (Wasn't mentioned at all. I don't even know if they know Dr. S prescribed the stuff.)

Why is this an issue? Because last night I woke up with really bad cramps. REALLY bad. So bad I threw up. Multiple times. My skin felt like it was on fire but I couldn't stop shivering. In the end, when I was reaching the point of exhaustion where I could no longer sit up on the toilet, I gave up and just half-lay half-fell on the bathroom floor to rest. I think I fell asleep there for a few minutes, then dragged my sorry ass and painful midsection to the couch, where I fell into an exhausted sleep once my body was just too far gone to keep me awake through the pain.

This wasn't abnormal. Yeah, the stuff I took? It does open the cervix. It is cheap. "Mild contracions" can go fuck themselves, though, because according to medical and drug websites, what that stuff actually does is open the cervix by mimicking a fucking miscarriage, stimulating the effects of labour.

Thank you, NOBODY, for even giving me a slight bit of warning for what I would experience. I can easily say that this was the most pain I'd ever experienced. I've thrown up from pain before, but not so much, and the pain then wasn't as bad as it was last night. On that 1-10 pain scale, it was easily spiking between an 8 and a 9. About once every half a minute.

So now I'm exhausted, and not looking forward to the surgery today. I can't even tell myself that after today it'll all be over, because of the months it'll take to even tell if the IUD's working. I don't know if the fact that the cramps and nausea have died down means that my cervix is no longer open the way they need it; the pharmacist told me to take it the night before, and I'm pretty sure Dr. S did too, but since she prescribed that stuff to me at the end of February and it's now the beginning of April, and she didn't write anything down about it, I just trusted the pharmacist.

But if that was wrong, are they doing to have to do something else that's even more painful? They're going to put me to sleep, I know, but I'll still have to deal with the after-effects of it all, and now I'm even more worried that it's going to go wrong.

I could cry right now. Tears of anger and frustration and I feel like I'm right back at the beginning, not knowing what's going to happen tomorrow. Dr. S had told me that I should be fine to go back to work on Monday. I ignored that and got my family doctor to keep me out until the following Tuesday, because what Dr. S seems to constantly ignore is that I'm out of work right now due to serious anemia that came about because -- SURPRISE! -- I've been bleeding too heavily. With her cutting away tissue, she told me to expect heavy bleeding for at least 3 days. Then the IUD will likely keep me bleeding heavily too. I honestly wonder if I'm going to go back to work on April 16 and end up wearing myself down too quickly because once again, all my hard work in combatting the anemia will be undone.

This is why I wish she'd just take the whole damn organ out. But no, because I someday may want babies (and because I'm young my opinion on not wanting kids isn't to be trusted, because "you never know what's around the corner"), they have to play things safe for as long as possible. Even if it's actually making my health worse in the meantime. Give me a hysterectomy and I take 6 weeks off work to heal, and I'm recovering from anemia at the same time and won't run the risk of bleeding away my hemoglobin every month again.

Putting me on birth control and pills to lessen the bleeding was a good first step, and I can't deny that. But she got the results of the blood test, showing I was anemic enough to need a goddamn transfusion. Twice. Three times now, since the pre-op team ordered another set to make sure I was at least starting to get better. But then the birth control didn't work, and bled for 6 weeks. And it took about a week on a double-dose of the birth control pills to make me stop bleeding entirely. She knows I'm out of work. She knows that when I do bleed, there are entire days when I have to run to the bathroom once an hour. Sometimes more. Sometimes every half an hour. Sometimes ten minutes after the last time! She knows, because I've told her. Multiple times. But I honestly thinks she thinks I'm exaggerating, because she doesn't seem at all concerned that I haven't been able to work for 2 and a half months, that I've been written up for excessive absenteeism because of associated health problems (before I went on this medical leave, I was a single write-up away from losing my job over my attendance). But playing it safe and making sure that I still might be able to have babies someday is more important than allowing me to leave my apartment (which I can't on bad days; hence the absenteeism), risking strokes and fatal clots (double doses of birth control pills plus sometimes the pills to make me stop bleeding so heavily), and lowering my hemoglobin level to the point of needing transfusion (twice it's been recommended, twice I've refused, stupidly, because I doubt this will kill me and I know that I can recover through rest, and the car accident victim who needs a transfusion isn't going to be so lucky).

Yup, eventual future offspring (which I don't even want) are way more important than my current quality of life.

I can't keep ranting about this. My head hurts, my middle's starting to cramp up again (a good sign?), and I want to go lie down before I have to take 2 buses and get knocked out so that people can mangle my insides a little. If you've read this far, thanks, and wish me luck today. I'm too tired to be that nervous, but I think I still need the luck.

September 2015

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