Dealing With Health Care Sexism

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Like millions of extraordinarily strong women before me, my symptoms are being brushed off as anxiety, PTSD, and a slew of other BS. Many of you may know at least some of the symptoms well: tingling, nerve pain, hair loss, weight loss, new food intolerances, tremors, fatigue, hot/cold hands and feet, swollen lymph nodes, heat/cold intolerance, acne, (self-diagnosed) POTS, and a folder full of “normal” blood work - so far. I’ve only had 1 really bad flare-up that lasted a couple months ago. My sed rate just came back as 8. My ANA was negative. Protein and ketones in urine were not acknowledged as abnormal. Neither were the high lymphocytes and bilirubin in the blood. I feel so defeated, belittled, and neglected. I am a woman, and I know something is wrong with my body that reaches beyond the boundaries of the “mind.” Doctors and nurses have made me question my sanity. Am I bulimic? Do I throw up and not remember? It’s amazing how much power we can give other people if we let them. I want to hear your stories. What tests were used to diagnose you? Which specialists? How many years did it take? I’m ready to give up and wait for whatever this is to eat me alive.

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  • Posted

    Though my story is too long and complicated to exactly describe It has taken me 27 yrs to find actual answers My problem started 3 days after my 2nd daughter was born She was VBAC  A no no now I coud not urinate right It wouldn't come out After 20 years and 100 diagnosis with no help I found it to be simply Urine retention  Duh Fast forward 18 years the depression fatigue swollen nodes My T4s were always low and I had a MRI in 2001 of my neck The report said pretty much By the way Patient has enlarged thyroid Should consult doc Doc Many of them kept saying Oh your fine Here is some xanax Now I must tell you as little tiny girls my children were always going with me to doc sitting with grandma  My 3yr old told me Mommy I'm gonna be a doctor and fix you Amazing but true She became a doctor and went with me to appts and told my doctor what was wrong I have Psoriasis which is auto immune She figured it out I have a nerve disorder in the brain which can cause so many of the symptoms Possibly early onset Parkinsons She figured it out Still working on the thyroid issue Daughter # 2 was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer and kept all the symptoms to herself It spread to her chest Doing radiation She would go to docs and because she is overweight they would say Oh your fat Heres Prozac She went thru alot Doctor daughter has Adrenal exaustion and lupus Though this is a summery I hope it helps knowing we as well were treated with complete disrespect Leaving in tears happened often I'm curious if you have had your cortisol level tested Google what it does I wish you nothing but the best If you ever have a question I might be able to answer or my daughter Feel Better

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    • Posted

      Thank you for the reply, Alley! I have not had cortisol tested. That is an amazing story. I have read horror stories of women getting ignored as if we don't know there's something really wrong. I took a Xanax the other day, which made my symptoms worse, not better, so I know it's not all in my head. I thought I read somewhere that benzos make psychosomatic pain go away, if I'm not mistaken? What kind of doctor is your daughter? PCP? MRI on Tuesday. This could very well be MS. Thanks for the support!

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    • Posted

      Thank you for the reply, Alley! I have not had cortisol tested. That is an amazing story. I have read horror stories of women getting ignored as if we don't know there's something really wrong. I took a Xanax the other day, which made my symptoms worse, not better, so I know it's not all in my head. I thought I read somewhere that benzos make psychosomatic pain go away, if I'm not mistaken? What kind of doctor is your daughter? PCP? MRI on Tuesday. This could very well be MS. Thanks for the support!

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    • Posted

      Def Not in your head My daughter is a Medical Examiner She is not much of a people person However she also has a degree in Neurology But she is smart in just about everything I hope they find something It's weird when you get to to the point where your thinking I don't care if they cancer as long as they find something and can treat it I am gonna ask Ashley about the Benzo thing That's interesting I will be here anytime you need to talk    My heartfelt Good Luck

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  • Posted

    I know how you feel but don't give up. I have gone through the same thing. I was told I was healthy and there is nothing wrong with me because my blood work was negative. You know your body better than any one else. I had almost all of the same symptoms you have and had to search and search for answers. I switched gp. Didn't help. Seemed like most doctors only wanted to spend the 15 min they set aside then they would forget about me. Or if results came back negative there was nothing else they could do. My suggestion would be to keep researching and if you find something you think might be the cause of your problems them make them test for it. I have now found a great doctor and have been diagnosed with CIRS.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for replying, I'm glad you found a diagnosis! I seriously daydream about the day I will finally get a diagnosis. Not because I'm anxious about it but because I just wanna know, ya know? My sed rate was 8, but that wasn't during a flare-up of symptoms. ANA negative. MRI Tuesday, I'm thinking it's MS. Not everything shows up in blood, and they need to come back down to earth and acknowledge sometimes they just don't know.... I actually had an EKG done two days ago, and they found 3 abnormalities - so how's THAT for their dumb "anxiety" diagnosis causing my tachycardia?!

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  • Posted

    I am going through the same thing. After 6 Dr's saying everything is negative.  I have to find a new Rheumo Dr because mine I had for 3 yrs and now she doesn't take my insurance.  She acted like I was crazy anyway.  My Gp tested me for Lupus my POLYNYOSITIS that I have all negative. They up my Lyrica to 200mg TID.  Nothing working My eyes still dry mouth thick beige mucus tongue feels like it is burnt. Plus no taste buds. This is since December it has been happening.  I have a Neuro Dr because I was and still is forgetting words conversations. he did all kinds of testing Found to have Neuropathy in feet. Still have vibrations from face down.He also found pinch nerve in L4 and L5. EMG results. Then Pain Dr shots in L4 L5 and S1 with Percocet given got severe pain when walking. I have Gp Dr who has been treating me with prednisone for over 20 yrs. I have POLYMYOSITIS. Which was a muscle biopsy yrs ago. My joints are really bad.  I had one rheumo Dr say you have cancer you need a oncologist not me. Go to Oncologist and for months no positive results which is great. he said you have Secca..  Went to my dentist because of mucus and all other feelings I feel like I have a lump in chin No I have Amalgam I was told no big deal.   My face is breaking out now. I am 72 yrs old never had pimples till now. Not even just like little blisters. Skin Dr said could be anything you are using. I have lost wt about 30 lbs haven't change my diet. Just food never important for me.  So of course Dr's say well that is good.   So here I am still in pain all over body. Eyes nose ears dry and mouth thick mucus BUT I am healthy no problems. Why do I feel so bad???.

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    • Posted

      I am sorry you are going through all of that :c My grandma was having some sort of allergic reaction forever in her eyes area. She found out on her own that it was eye drops her doctor prescribed her causing it all. Also, I try to make sure almost everything I use is natural because I have major sensitivities. What I've noticed helps the nerve pain is exercising, like just walking. Last week, I got really angry when I saw "anxiety" written all over my doctor's notes a couple weeks ago. So I went to the gym and ran as fast and as hard as I could (I do not advise doing this). It was painful. I tried triggering another flare-up, but it didn't work. It did start a habit, though. I go to the gym almost every day now, and it's helped a lot.

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  • Posted

    Millennials...everything is sexist, racist, misogynistic. Not to be rude but to have one's symptoms brushed off as "anxiety" and "PTSD" isn't reserved for women. Happens to men too, and just as often. Quit trying to be a victim. I am sorry for your undiagnosed pain and sorry furthermore that I cannot answer them but don't come ranting and raving with un-substantiated nonsense.

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    • Posted

      I suggest you read Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick by Maya Dusenbery.

      https://books.google.com/books/about/Doing_Harm.html?id=He-mDAAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q&f=false[/b]

      She lays down nothing but the cold, hard facts about sexism in the healthcare system in 318 pages with a whopping 54 pages of 316 references and numerous interviews of patients and doctors. Here are a few facts I have highlighted in my copy:

      "Women wait sixty-five minutes to men's forty-nine before getting treatment for abdominal pain in the emergency room" (4).

      "Young women are seven times more likely to be sent home from the hospital in the middle of having a heart attack" (4).

      Women "experience longer diagnostic delays in comparison to men for nearly everything, from brain tumors to rare genetic disorders" (4).

      "One cardiologist put it more bluntly in a media interview: 'In training, we were taught to be on the look-out for hysterical females who come to the emergency room'" (124).

      A study you can read up on is "The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain" by Diane E. Hoffmann and Anita J. Tarzian, which is actually published on PubMed. The authors concluded, "The subjective nature of pain requires health care providers to view the patient as a credible reporter," and women are "more likely to have their pain reports discounted as 'emotional' or 'psychogenic' and, therefore, 'not real.'... These biases have led health-care providers to discount women's self reports of pain at least until there is objective evidence for the pain's cause. Medicine's focus on objective factors and its cultural stereotypes of women combine insidiously, leaving women at greater risk for inadequate pain relief and continued suffering" (Dusenbery 95).

      Here is a link to 29 women's real stories of how their pain wasn't taken seriously by doctors.

      https://www.buzzfeed.com/laraparker/women-pain?utm_term=.ljdEmE3OR#.cqJZ2Zqem

      So, I've given you a book, a study, and some real-life accounts from the women themselves. I'm sorry to say, but there is no "un-substantiated nonsense" here, as I have clearly proven you wrong. "Happens to men too, and just as often," obviously is not true either. I get where you're coming from, though. There are older white men in my family too who don't like people challenging the status quo and their power, which would be recognizing the inequality and yes the "-isms" that conspicuously lurk in this country.

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    • Posted

      Right, just ignore all those facts I proved your argument wrong with.... Nice lol.

      Here's in response to your last-ditch effort. Again referring to Dusenbery's book, "Many women in the United States are sick, and they're getting sicker. Since the turn of the twentieth century, women have lived longer than men, on average. But the gap has been narrowing since the eighties, when men's life expectancy began increasing at a faster clip than women's, largely thanks to a decline in deaths from cardiovascular disease. And the additional 4.8 years of life expectancy that women currently have do not come with better health. Women report poorer health, both physical and mental, and are hospitalized more than men throughout adulthood. In their later years of life too, women are worse off than men. When it comes to "active" life expectancy - the number of years living free from significant limitations that prevent you from doing everyday tasks - men have overtaken women over the past three decades. Women still live longer, but men live better longer. This difference - women's lower mortality but higher morbidity - has been known as the 'gender paradox.'" (19-20).

      Some researchers are quick to judge women as less "stoic" and more likely to complain that their health is worse when in fact, Dusenbery states, "Today, it is well accepted that the paradox has a different, straightforward explanation: women have higher rates of debilitating but not life-threatening chronic diseases. Women are not any more likely to report poor health than men with the same medical condition; they're just more likely to have one" (20). Indeed, autoimmune diseases show gender bias against women.

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