Saying ‘shake it off’ isn’t good enough
By Katie Czenczek, Staff Writer
*Note that this article focuses on those who fit the gender binary. To all those non-binary peeps out there, my heart goes out to you. I can only imagine the bullshit you deal with every time you go to the doctor’s office.
There is a disparity between whose pain is taken seriously and whose isn’t when asking “what’s up, doc?” Numerous articles have been published on this topic in the Atlantic, Los Angeles Times, Vice, and other news outlets. I’ve heard horror stories of women going undiagnosed for 15 years, or even misdiagnosed. Now, I’ve experienced this treatment—or lack thereof—firsthand.
For a week I have been experiencing sharp pains in the lower left side of my abdomen. The pain was bearable enough to get through the first four days, though I was constantly aware of it.
However, on day four, I noticed that my abdomen began to swell quite severely, and a little lump appeared just above my left hip bone. The pain got to the point where even sitting caused me to wince, and I began to feel lightheaded. Even taking two Tylenols didn’t work, so after a call to the nurse’s hotline and some gentle coaxing from my boyfriend to convince me to go to the ER, I decided that I should probably get it checked out.
I went through the hoops in waiting room purgatory for four hours—my blood pressure was checked, blood tested, and a urine sample taken—only to meet with the doctor for two minutes. He decided without assessing the lump that all I needed “Was to take a Tylenol.” It was humiliating, and I have yet to find out what is making me feel like a robot hand is gripping the inside of my left abdomen.
I’d like to pretend this was a one-time issue, but there have been other times I’ve been sent off without treatment, even being told to wait until the female doctor came in for any issues that affect reproductive organs.
According to the Canadian Medical Association’s (CMA) website, in 2017 there were 48,898 male and 34,238 female doctors in Canada. Although this gap may not seem that bad, it affects the level of care that women receive if male doctors fail to treat their ailments.
Take my family doctor’s office for example: There are three male doctors and one female doctor. If all three male doctors refuse to treat a women’s health issue related to their vulva, ovaries, and uterus, then all the patients will be stuck waiting to see the only female doctor in the clinic. Does anyone else see the math problem here?
When the only doctors who know about the female anatomy are gynecologists, there is a glaring issue with our health system. Why is it that men in medical professions get uncomfortable when a woman talks about issues affecting anything “down there”? It’s unprofessional and a waste of time for female patients. Not only that, but the longer a woman goes without treatment for something serious, the higher the chance of a costlier treatment will be needed. Instead of undermining the pain a woman is going through because they cannot relate to it, they should take what a woman says seriously.
Hopefully this error will be fixed in time. CMA’s website stated that there are more female doctors under 35 years old than males. If men cannot grasp the medical issues a woman faces, I’d hope that female doctors will be able to.
In the meantime, however, I’m still sitting here, in pain.