I am a nurse who dislikes doctors.

Yes, it is odd. I’m perfectly fine with them in a social settings and I have many doctor friends.

I just do not want them to touch me. Even if I’m dying.

Really and truly, it is not dislike. It’s pure and simple fear. A few years ago, I was on duty on Christmas Day, with the worst food poisoning of my life. I was so dehydrated I was moments shy of passing out. My colleagues begged me to let them call the doctor on-call, but even in my sorry state I was able to refuse vehemently. In the end, on my insistence, one of the nurses inserted an intravenous cannula and started a saline drip. After a few hours I was much better and went home, no muss no fuss.

Now reading this little anecdote, it all seems quite silly. However, all phobias are irrational. 

Or are they? Because in this case I think I am totally justified. After all, you are entrusting your life and well being to another human being, a mere mortal not so different to yourself. Because this person is the doctor, it is meant to be ok for him to see you at your worst, know things about you your own mother may not know, see and feel intimate parts of your body. And being a woman simply makes it worse, needing breast exams and Pap smears and the occasional internal ultrasound. These are awful for people who do not have white-coat phobia, so just imagine what it’s like for me.

The very thought of it makes me rather distraught. 

However it is not the kind of phobia you can avoid. If you are scared of cockroaches, you can fumigate. If you are scared of clowns, don’t go to the circus.

You can do your very best not to get sick. In fact, I try very hard not to. But sometimes life just happens and a visit to the doctor is inevitable.

1) when I was a child I had digestive issues. I remember needing a barium meal and the doctor deceptively told me the pink liquid was strawberry flavour. I can assure you, it was not. I tried to down the stuff and managed. After two seconds I vomitted all of it. The doctor simply reappeared with another cup of it. Wonderful.

2) in my twenties I got this large and horrible sore on my chest. I definitely needed an antibiotic, topical and oral and since breast cancer is pretty rampant in my family, I decided to get it checked out. To my horror, my doctor said I needed a full breast exam. It was awkward and I was terrified something would be found. Nothing was, thank God. 

3) a large lump developed on my nose. I could not just leave it there, so I got it surgically removed. I had to lie down, face to the ceiling, I could not see anything because the surgical lamp was blinding me while a young doctor proceeded to inject my face with local anaesthetic. I had to trust my face in this person’s hands.

It’s not about the procedures themselves. I’m actually ok with the pain and the slight awkwardness. Doctors are professionals like I am. I know they have seen this stuff a hundred times before. 

The issue is trust and control.

God forbid I will ever need surgery under general anaesthesia. I often joke with friends saying that I would want to be awake during surgery so I can count the swabs with the scrub nurses. Yet there is truth in jest. The idea of myself, unconscious and naked, under clinical light surrounded by my colleagues makes my heart race. I manage to hide my phobia quite well, I’m sure none of the doctors I have ever visited even have the slightest notion that needing them is my idea of a horrible nightmare (though I get the feeling that my gynaecologist just might be on to me here). Though if I ever need a major operation, I bet you anything that I would end up with a myocardial infarction. 

People have disappointed me a lot in my short life. People who broke promises. People who seemed nice but were not. People who were meant to care but didn’t. Broken promises and broken hearts will pass…not without scars, but they pass. If someone disappoints me when it comes to my body or health, there is no healing to be done then because that does not just pass. I find it so difficult to trust people with trivialities, just imagine with something as precious as my life.

Sometimes there is no choice and you just have to trust and let someone else be in control. And then, come what may.