Wednesday, June 12, 2024

How a bizarre type of physical abuse causes me problems now

Hi friends. I'm doing a lot of deep digging and truth telling about past trauma I experienced: neglect, abandonment, endangerment, exploitation, scapegoating, gaslighting, parentification and abuse (emotional, social, mental, sexual and physical). Today I'm sharing how a bizarre type of physical abuse has left scars and unhealed injury. 

I'm talking about what is referred to as medical abuse or medical neglect. I experience many weird symptoms that I've come to realize are carryovers from medical neglect: allergies, back problems, early onset arthritis, vision problems, ENT, skin rashes and chronic pain. These are attributable, I see now, to lack of care and being made to do too much heavy labor and child care as a child and teen. 

I didn't realize this until my husband pointed out that he'd witnessed this happening to me since first he met me. He also identified what I told him I'd experienced as medical neglect. I'd never understood this due to much gaslighting by my four authority figures (I no longer call them parents). Any symptoms I experienced were mostly dismissed or ignored. I had to get very ill before anything was done about it. This was just basic physical care. Mental health issues were completely ignored. 

I had chronic sore throats beginning around age 5. I was taken to a clinic and given cough drops that didn't help. I was frequently diagnosed with swollen glands, strep throat and tonsilitis. In 5th grade, I missed 40 days of school one year and took penicillin for months at a time (injections and pills). Lowered immunity caused me to get every bug going around. Now you might think, as I did, that well, they weren't medically neglecting me because I was getting medication. 

But months on an antibiotic is not medically advised. And missing so much school should have been a red flag in itself. Finally, after years of suffering, my tonsils were taken out. I was told the doctor was against taking them out. But I can't believe that, now. Two of my own kids had frequent sore throats and the doctor took them out when they were 5. When I told him what happened to me, he said that no doctor he knew of would have waited that long unless my parents wouldn't allow surgery. 

When I finally had them out at age 10, my tonsils were so infected that I was sick for weeks afterwards. I couldn't and didn't eat for 3 weeks and lost like 15 or 20 pounds. My mother didn't even know I wasn't eating till my friend told her (I was left home alone during the summer). Mom got angry, probably embarrassed she hadn't noticed, and forced me to eat applesauce which on a raw throat is like vitriol. 

She and my dad were divorced and he wasn't involved. It was gram and gramp who made them get treatment for me. Same thing happened when I was having headaches. It took them till I was 12 to finally get glasses for me. And then at some rinky-dink place that was cheap. She herself had several pairs of fashion glasses. My whole family wore glasses so I'm not sure why they waited so long to have mine checked. When I finally got them, I was surprised to find that trees actually had leaves and weren't just blurs. 

Another time, I fell out of bed and broke my cheekbone. She sent me to school with a huge goose egg  on my face. The school sent me home to have it examined. It never was till my dad finally the swelling wasn't going down. He snuck me in to the hospital where he worked and had his radiologist friend X-ray it. I'd fractured a bone and a piece is still lodged in my face. 

Later when my mom and her boyfriend lost her foster care license due to physical abuse of kids, I was moved in with my dad and his new wife. My mom says I chose to go there to give she and her boyfriend "private time" (gross).  But I now think that was more gaslighting to cover the fact that when the kids were removed from her home, it included me. 

My dad and his wife were into some expensive vitamin pyramid scheme. For breakfast, I had a vitamin and lunch was one of the power bars. Dinner was a salad. I was always hungry. Then they got into chiropractic and I was diagnosed with scoliosis and spina bifida. They were warned not to let me ride anything that jolted (carnival, snowmobile, motorcycle) and to be careful of heavy lifting. He didn't warn off housework because he probably didn't expect that I, at 12, would be made to do the kinds of things I was made to do. 

I slept, and got up at night with, their babies. I slept in a youth bed.  I did all the ironing. I still feel the intense cramping that caused. I hung clothes out on the line in winter, having to scale snowbanks to take them down.  I did all the vacuuming, lugging around a big, heavy vacuum, scrubbed toilets and mopped floors on my hands and knees. 

I had congenital hip dysplasia as a baby.  Beyond wearing a brace for a few months, there was no follow up care. No one gave a second thought about overworking me and keeping me in unsuitable conditions, despite doctor warnings. Now, I struggle with fused vertebrae, a slipped disk and constant back pain. My hips are a mess. I walk crooked. How much of it is due to that? No idea. But it certainly didn't help. 

When I was 16, my mother's husband kicked me out of their home for coming in an hour late one time. I didn't realize it at the time but this was illegal. I think now that (this is gross, too) he was sexually attracted to me. He'd always been off in that respect. (Side note, they'd stolen my savings bonds from grandparents and lied about how they used my dad's child support payments to fund their new family). 

My mom went right along with it. I was sent to live with an elderly lady in town, for my senior year. I was having lots of trouble with wisdom teeth. My mother finally took me to a dentist who removed them. He prescribed Darvocet (an opioid) and said I would need care and monitoring. I was not allowed back home but sent back to the lady. My gums got infected and when my dad came to visit he said it looked like I had mumps. I lost feeling in half my mouth and it's never returned. No one did anything about it. 

It never occurred to me that any of this was medically abusive. This was not how my parents were raised by their parents. They received proper medical treatment. I was told we couldn't afford it. But they took good care of themselves, their new spouses, kids and even their dogs. There was always money for whatever took their fancy. 

The problems all this causes now are not just physical. I don't take my pain seriously. I'm used to being ignored and gaslit about it. So I gaslight myself. Even writing about, I question whether I'm exaggerating. It's exhausting. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive