By Stephanie Sampson
Over the years, I have experienced pain. I have experienced physical pain when I was a waitress and when I had other tedious, labor intensive jobs. I have experienced emotional pain when I lost my grandfather this past January. These times I have confided in my friends, family and my doctor in order to find some relief by talking to someone.
It is a common misconception in this country that women who come into a health facility exaggerate their amount of pain.
This misconception has led to many misdiagnoses and for some it has altered their lives drastically.
Surprise! Marriage is not the solution to migraines
Joanna Klein, in an article for The New York Times, focuses on migraines, more common in women than in men, being seen as a “woman’s problem. Klein points out that for centuries, doctors explained migraines being caused by emotional disturbances like hysteria, depression or stress. Doctors would commonly advise marriage as a cure for migraines. It is hard to believe that doctors didn’t believe that these women were feeling pain to the extent of their claims.
It has now been proven that an excess of emotions is not the cause. A neuroscience professor from Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry said that it is a shift in hormones starting “a chain of events which activate neurons in specific parts of brain and send out signals which other parts of the brain interpret as pain.”
“I almost called 911 from the ER”
The Boston NPR news agency shared a story about a husband who took his wife to the emergency room and they were extremely disappointed with their experience. They tried to flag down nurses and doctors while they waited in the crowded hallway, but all of them were dismissive. No one knew whether or not she was even in critical condition. Eventually a doctor sent the woman to get a CT scan and prescribed her some medication for kidney stones. The worst part is that the doctor didn’t even examine her. While this diagnosis was correct, the husband and wife didn’t even know what she was being treated for until they read the prescription. The couple wanted to press charges for gender discrimination based on their experience. But their lawer advised them not to since the woman did not have proof of long-term damage.
It’s because you’re fat!
The story that hurt my heart the most was a story that the Huffington post shared. Elly Mayday, a woman who was in extreme pain, was misdiagnosed by doctors, who blamed her pain on her weight.
It turns out she had cancer.
Body shaming is a big problem here in the United States, but in this instance there was a series of doctors not taking women’s health complaints seriously. This woman was complaining about some lower abdominal pain, and the doctors advised that she do some sit ups, gave her some pain medication and sent her on her way. It turned out that this 27-year-old woman had an ovarian torsion and she lost an ovary.
It is extremely sad that women’s pain isn’t taken seriously. I mean I know several women that are tougher than any man out there. Women give birth. They are tough.
Many women out there have to deal with pain, work full time and raise families, sometimes on their own. They should be taken seriously and their voices should be heard. Our hormones may trigger a chain of events that cause our neurons to interpret pain differently, but the pain is still there.
If you or someone you know feels their pain is being dismissed by their doctor, marriage is not the answer. The answer is a correct diagnosis and treatment.