Planes, Trains, and Colonoscopies

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I’m going on a trip soon. A trip I am very excited to take, but one that will require me to fly. That part I am not so excited about. I suffer from an anxiety disorder and PTSD,  and flying is a big trigger. It’s right up there with surgery. And roller coasters. And colonoscopies. The thought of any one of them triggers instant panic. Throat closing, head spinning, feeling like I’m going to die panic. I think I’ve figured out what’s at the root of it. It all boils down to control and vulnerability. I have been traumatized and assaulted multiple times from an early age. I have managed to survive it by taking back my power and clinging onto it so tightly only God himself could pry it loose. As long as I am not in a position where I am feeling vulnerable, I’m good. But as soon as I have to put my life in anyone else’s hands. I lose it.

This control-freakiness has served me well. It has kept me alive and at least somewhat sane. But it’s a double-edged sword because it also keeps me from doing things that would be beneficial for me , or maybe just enjoyable. There was a point in time when I would not go somewhere if it meant I had to fly. I’ve gotten better about it. I will go now–granted with a bottle of Xanax in my purse and a few in my bloodstream–  but I will do it. That’s progress. But there are more things that I simply cannot do.

I’m supposed to have a closed MRI of my back. The kind where they put your whole body into a very small tunnel and shoot what sounds like machine guns at you for about 45 minutes. I did it once and had a massive panic attack. I swore the next time I was going in a coffin like that I would be dead. I meant it. I simply cannot do it. I told my doctor this and he ordered it with sedation. That didn’t help. In fact, it made it worse. Just the thought of being drugged and helpless while I’m in a vulnerable position is enough to make my heart race. I cancelled the appointment. I just can’t make myself do it, and I can’t get any further treatment for my spinal stenosis and nerve compression unless I do. So I suffer with pain and limited mobility because of it — literally paralyzed by fear.

Same goes for colonoscopies– only worse because there I have the knowledge that while I am drugged, helpless, naked and vulnerable I will also be being probed by a room full of strangers in private areas of my body. Unthinkable for a rape survivor with PTSD. Unthinkable. Yet I have a history of polyps and was supposed to have another colonoscopy 4 years ago. The anxiety about giving up control and being vulnerable in this way is so powerful that the thought of having a colonoscopy is more terrifying than having colon cancer. I’m willing to take my chances. And before I get a million comments telling me how colon cancer is a serious thing and I need to just buck up and get it done– let me just say that I know this. But it’s not that simple. I can’t just decide to go do it. It’s going to take a miracle.

So I guess I would just like to ask those of you who are praying people to pray for me. I know that these are things I must do. I know that being crippled by fear is no way to live. Just like Habakkuk I wonder “How long, O Lord, must I call out for help but you do not listen?” (Habakkuk 1:2), but I also take refuge in the Lord’s answer– “For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told” (Habakkuk 1:5). He has already done things like that in other areas of my life, and I believe when the time is right he will heal this part of me too. I will wait with anticipation.

For the revelation waits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. – Habakkuk 2:3

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