healthcare systems + cycles : knowing our body’s landscape + ethos
We grow up within a culture that normalizes handing over our decision making power to healthcare professionals. As women we are in a particularly vulnerable to this because we inevitably face an extra layer of health decisions throughout the cycles of our life. As we bleed and consider contraception and menstrual cycle care options. If we become pregnant, choosing to terminate or carry out the pregnancy. All of the decisions we must make throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. And finally the childrearing decisions we face as mothers, and when we begin to enter menopause.
All of these times are sacred passageways in a woman’s life. Biologically written into our physiology; each containing choices and decisions unique to the woman.
When we create a strong, embodied, and informed relationship to ourselves as we bleed, we are preparing & resourcing ourselves for the other healthcare decisions as we face the subsequent biological rites of passage.
The act of fully exploring these options and coming to an informed and embodied decision that is true and individual for ourselves plays a key role in this rite of passage. The act of arriving at a decision for ourselves is in part, what propels us forward and a’flame as we journey through this rite.
Too often though we go to our healthcare providers uneducated and trust them “to do what’s right for us”. I’m here to challenge this notion. The decisions we make concerning our healthcare are as unique and individual as there are women. Our healthcare decisions should reflect our values. Not the values of our provider. It is our own individual responsibility to honestly explore the options concerning our healthcare.
No one, no matter how much education, experience, or expertise they have, could possibly make a decision that reflects the nuances and individuality of ourselves. Our providers are the bearers of information, research, and a melting pot of case studies and patient stories. However it’s not their job to make or impose their values onto us. And it is in our own hands to honestly explore our bodies, our boundaries, and our values concerning healthcare. We are the experts of our own body.
Too often we are entering the healthcare setting from a patriarchal mindset where we place the person in the white coat at the top with all of the power. We look to our providers to show us the way, heal us, save us, and absolve us of the weight of our healthcare decisions. Sitting at the mercy of the supposed all knowing godly doctor.
As both a nurse and a patient I’ve witnessed both sides. I’ve seen doctors, nurses, and providers de-value the informed consent process. And I’ve been the patient who’s been sold the story that I’d been given all of my options.
Providing informed consent is the ethical and moral duty of the healthcare provider. But as I’ve both seen and experienced, all too often this isn’t happening. So then we bring it back to ourselves. Self-responsibility is the remedy for this victimization. Knowing that we always have options is of utmost importance. The freeze response of trauma tells us there’s no other way. But often (outside of emergent situations) we have options. Including the option to walk away if we don’t feel safe and seen by our provider. We can continue looking until we find a provider that feels like a safe place to land, voice our concerns, and explore the options that resonate to us.
And we circle back to our cycle. The cycle of our ovaries and womb as guide. As we lean into relationship here, into the map of the menstrual cycle, we begin to touch a deep part of ourselves. A deep part of our inner knowing. What we value and where our boundaries are. And these things change. As does the cycle. As we become more body literate we learn to trust it.
And so, with cycle as guide
by learning the landscape of our body,
we also learn our ethos concerning it.
May you feel empowered in your health & healthcare.