Kayla Rahn had a 50 pound tumor removed from her belly. How, you may ask, did it grow so large without being detected earlier? Doctors insisted she was just getting fat. Because, women get fat, right?
National news anchor, Shannon Beam, complained of chronic eye pain for years. It was due to the daily tearing of her retinas. Doctors insisted her pain was emotional. Because, women are emotional, right?
Tori Foles, wife of Super Bowl quarterback Nick, complained of chronic dizziness. It was due to POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). Doctors told her she had a virus. Because, women overreact to their symptoms, right?
What these three cases highlight is an ongoing problem in modern healthcare. Women’s symptoms consistently are not being taken seriously.
I experienced this myself. I went to four doctors with my thyroid condition. They all said, “you’re good, you’re in normal range.” I was so exhausted that some days I could barely get out of bed. I was gaining weight and not eating. I would have been fired from my job, but as a homeschool mom I was my own boss. And, I did want to fire me–only so someone else could take over and I could sleep!
So, my tiredness? “As women age, they lose energy.” Seriously?
And, my weight gain? “Just eat less.” I was literally consuming 900 calories a day at most!
I tried another doctor, another endocrinologist, and another, and another…
Finally, a physician listened to me, and ran some more tests. After putting me on a new thyroid medication, some prescription strength vitamin B, and increasing my vitamin D dosage by 3 times of what I had been taking, I was able to function. I could get up out of bed for the entire day! I could homeschool my kids! I could stop gaining weight! I could diet and even start losing a bit!
I was human again.
Unfortunately, it’s not a happy ending for all women. Many times our symptoms are downplayed by “the experts.” Many times our experience is negated by “the professionals.”
I learned early with my kids that I had to be their advocate. No pediatrician in the world knew them better than I. I knew when something wasn’t right, and as a Mama Bear, I would fight until the issue was addressed.
We have to be the same tough advocate for our own healthcare. We need to be strong and insistent. No one knows our bodies like we do. No one understands our experience like we do. No one feels our symptoms like we do.
If something isn’t right, if you’re not feeling right, don’t let a doctor tell you it’s in your head. Or, that it’s just because you’re getting older, or you’re too young, or whatever.
It is never okay to have a medical professional discount your symptoms. Fight for the healthcare you deserve!