Dissociation at the osteopath

I see an osteopath for pain. I suffer from migraines, which I’ve gotten since I was 14, and fibromyalgia which was officially diagnosed almost two years ago now. Osteopathic medicine is different than the westernized version of medicine, it looks more at the whole person. My MD recommended my DO, and I love both my doctors. I typically see my DO every 1-3 weeks depending on what we are working on and how I am doing.

I saw Dr. B last week, and as usual we started out talking about how I had been feeling. I hadn’t seen her for 6 weeks, so it had been longer than usual. One thing she had asked me to do was to pay really close attention to my migraine triggers, as we had them almost under control. In the last 6 weeks, I have been going through my migraine medication like it was water. I have noticed that flashbacks seem to give me migraines, as do the worst of my nightmares. It’s almost comparable to a flashback hangover.

After a few minutes of general how are you’s, Dr B. asked about the migraines and if I had noticed any new triggers. It’s amazing what lack of sleep can do to a person; without thinking, I said, “yes, I think so.”

Have you ever done something and wished you could un-do it? As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I was frantically wishing for a way to force them back inside. Dr. B waited a minute for me to finish my sentence, and then said, “well? What is it?!?”

I stuttered, I stammered. I didn’t know what to say. I finally settled on, “it’s really personal?” Yeah. It sounded like that, as if I were asking her a question. Serious face palm moment.

She sighed, and looked at me. “You do know I’m your doctor? That knowing the personal stuff is how I can help you?”

And somewhere in there is where I started to look at the floor and play with my hair, and I went away to lala land in my head. I’m not really sure how long it took for Dr. B to notice, but she did notice.

“Alice? Alice? Have you ever talked to someone about what is personal?” She asked me. I had to force myself to concentrate on her words, everything had that hazy feeling to it, like I was viewing it through thick cotton. She spoke in a way that told me she knew I was dissociated, and that I wasn’t the first person she had been around who did this.

I somehow managed to force out the fact that I’m in therapy twice a week. I don’t say anything else, and either does Dr..B. After a while, she excused herself to the restroom, was gone a few minutes, and when she came back, she sat back down just as calmly.

She talked a little bit, telling me that she wants to help, but that it’s hard to help if she doesn’t know anything about it. She says she also realizes things talked about in therapy can be hard or impossible to talk about outside of therapy. Osteopaths believe (and I believe her) they can help release trauma from the body, even if a person doesn’t fully remember their traumas— or remember them at all.

I wasn’t sure what do– I trusted Dr. B as much as I trust anyone. I just didn’t know how to tell her this. I finally realized I could show her a book I downloaded to my iPad’s kindle app weeks ago. It’s a book that Bea wants me to read. I have not even started it. I pulled the book up on the kindle app, and still unable to look at her, I handed it to her. “My therapist wants me to read this,” I said. The book is called “the body remembers”. It’s a book about PTSD and trauma.

It was enough. She’s a smart women. I risked a peek at her face and could see she had put two and two together. She knew I had suffered some form of truama, and I’m pretty sure she knows it’s some form of physical or sexual abuse. Because of the rest of our (limited) conversation she may have concluded that some of it is based in childhood, or college years, or both. I’m not sure. But she knows the general premise.

“Have you read it?” Dr. B asksed.
I shook my head no. “Have you?” I asked her. I assumed the concept must be familiar to am osteopath.
“Not this one. Several like it.” She told me.
And then. “Is someone hurting you now?”
“No! This is old. All old, old stuff.” I said.
“Okay,” she said, “I’m sorry.”
And then she let’s out a string of F-bombs at people who traumatize children and females and other human beings.
After which, she apologized. I told her not to, because it makes her real, which makes it easier to trust her, and be okay with her. She laughs at that.

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