Why Women Have to Fight for Our Health Care

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As women, we have to fight for ourselves in a way that men don’t. This is especially true when it comes to health care. We experience symptoms men can never possibly understand. For most male doctors, because they can’t understand it or they’ve never experienced it, it doesn’t exist. We’re brushed off, made to feel crazy, and told what we’re experiencing is not true. But (and it’s SO HARD  to remember this) it is. Our experiences are real and valid, no matter what an “expert” says. 

 

Last month I watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where the female chief of surgery was having a heart attack. For women, heart attacks present completely different than men - they can mimic upset stomach and indigestion. Because she was a doctor she understood what was happening and was able to fight for herself, but she shouldn’t have had to.

 

Coincidentally I watched this episode after being in the ER all night, only to be told by a male doctor that my very real chronic pain for both this visit and all my last ones was caused my a “minor stomach bug”. Are you fucking kidding me?! Essentially he was telling me that a) the severity of my pain is in my head and b) I’m not strong enough to be able to handle the symptoms of a flu. 

 

Let me be clear - these stomach pains are not the flu. These are pains that knock me over, make it hard to breathe, and drop me to my knees. I have lived with them for almost ten years now, and have some level of pain daily. I run a business while dealing with them. I do most of our major cooking, grocery shopping, and making sure our household runs smoothly. Isaac helps out so much, but I still lead an entire life while in pain. If I am in the ER it’s because they’ve gotten to a point where they’re so bad I can no longer manage living that life. Not because I have a bit of diarrhea or nausea. And to be told otherwise is to say what I am going through is all in my head. 

 

I have fought for myself hard over the last few years to get an all female care team. I have a female doctor, a female nurse practitioner thats my go to, a female counsellor AND a female specialist. But I shouldn’t have to. We should not have to fight to get the care we need, or need to seek out only our gender so that we can get that care. 

 

And for the record - I was right that there was something wrong. I had surgery three weeks after that hospital visit, which I’m still currently recovering from. The surgeon found a bunch of abnormal growths that had to be removed, most likely endometriosis. So trust yourself, because your instincts are always right; they just KNOW.