Two calls, five patients. And I’m exhausted.
It’s funny—so far a pattern has emerged. I get the call. I am in action. I will go! I will help!
I drive to the hospital. I tear up. How can I help? What will be asked of me? What if I can’t handle it?
I think of me, at the hospital, waiting for my kit, and then seeing the lady-cop sitting in her chair by the rape table, and changing my mind and leaving. I think of me, calling the crisis line and being told dismissively that what I was describing was not rape.
At a certain point in my story, though, the evidence was gauged to have piled up to the correct height, and the crisis-line lady allowed that perhaps I had been raped. I didn’t know which reaction was worse, frankly: her disbelief, or her reluctant admission that I had finally met her standard of what rape is.
Once I’m at the hospital, all of that fades away. I am no longer important. I have a patient (or many patients) to help. That’s the important thing.
And then, driving home: Guilt that I didn’t do more. Anger that I didn’t do more. Confusion, because I wanted to do more, but—what happened? I am sad about the rapes I heard about. I am sad that the patients went home alone. I am even sad, sometimes, that I don’t 100% believe these patients. I am sad that these cases will not go to trial. I am sad that there isn’t a better process for these patients—one with someone who is here who actually knows what she’s doing, who doesn’t offend the doctor, or become shy (still!) when saying “pelvic exam.”
I’ve been reading blogs about rape lately. I think it helps. Helps what, I don’t know. Maybe it helps me think of things to say to my patients. That everyone gets through their experience differently, but they will get through it. That they are brave. That it may feel that no one understands or cares, but people do. Some people, anyway.
I have to write about this later, once I’ve had a few minutes to process. And sleep. I’m exhausted.