“If we don’t share our stories, we'll all keep thinking, ‘It’s just me who couldn’t handle it.”
This is so timely. I went to my doctor two months ago with mild abdominal pain. I was diagnosed with a UTI and given medication. When the symptoms persisted, I was given a CT scan and diagnosed with constipation. I didn’t think that made sense and pushed for more testing. After a blood test, several rounds of imaging and even a dramatic cancer scare, I was finally diagnosed with advanced endometriosis (which will require surgical removal of a cyst) and a uterine fibroid. Had I accepted the constipation diagnosis and not pushed for more testing, I may never have discovered what was really happening in my body. It has really taught me the value in trusting what our bodies are telling us and advocating for ourselves as women.
Twenty years ago, I had two vaginal births of 9 lb babies and was induced both times. I waited several hours for the epidural because staff was busy. I couldn’t advocate for myself due to the 30 second contractions and my partner didn’t seem to know what to do. I finally said to the nurse “ would it help speed things up if I threw things around the room?”. That worked 🤯 Looking back , I realize that I was socialized (as many women are ) to be polite and not make a scene. I vowed to be there for my daughters and loved ones while they are in medical care. While my mother was in the hospital , I learned that due to fears of opioid addiction, many health practitioners are taught not to offer pain meds but wait for patients to ask 🤪
Just saw your link to this on IG. Thank you for writing about this! I passed out during IUD insertion and woke up to the male dr calling me a drama queen. 😶 I wound up leaving the device in 2 yrs beyond when it should have come out because I was terrified to get it removed.
Anyway, I'm a new subscriber now and am off to read more of your stuff.
It’s gotta be about money. The cost of meds. The cost of the labor around the meds. The cost of work release. All of it. Who most likely controls those (corporate) purse strings? Yep - MEN.
This is a very valuable read. In a positive sense, women are much stronger than they are, or once were, perceived to be. In my own experience, I once dated a woman who shared her IC, and I believe some associated nerve damage. She spoke of being in pain every day, but I only partially comprehended. I thought to myself, how could someone be in pain every day. Then, years later, I suffered a prostate issue and felt pain every day for months. It was terrifying and demoralizing. I understand much better now what she had been telling me. I think of her often. As someone who embraces and practices advocacy, I strongly agree with the suggestions to communicate, communicate, and communicate, and to "bring a friend/advocate". Your life depends on it.
This absolutely must be part of more conversations among women. I've heard of "Below the Belt," and appreciate the mention, as it serves to remind me to give it a watch. I'm a 4-year- ovarian and uterine cancer survivor. Another conversation worth having is what women tolerate verbally from male and female doctors. I don't have a preference - male or female - my male gynecological oncologist was THE best in our area. I wrote about this in 2021: https://www.kerrykriseman.com/writing/they-told-me-i-was-dying-why-doctors-words-matter
I had an IUD inserted AFTER an endometrial biopsy with no drugs. I tolerated the first 2 cervix insertions (biopsy and measurement for IUD) but by the time the third one came, something. I started sweating furiously, felt nauseous and had to lie there for about 15 minutes after to regain my will to walk. I shouldn't have driven myself home but I did. It was only after that I found this: "More commonly, in primary care settings, cervical shock can occur during insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD). It is thought to be due to stimulation of the vagal nerve. Whilst uncommon, it can rapidly cause a woman to become unwell with circulatory compromise." Cervical shock does not equal a little crampy. At. All.
Years ago, I had a uterine biopsy. What was described as “a pinch” left me in tears and writhing in pain. The doctor (female) said she was really unable to get a good sample because of how uncomfortable I was. Should 100% be done with anesthesia. Thanks for giving life to this topic!
I didn't know there was a numbing spray. That would have come in handy on several painful occasions. I remember being surprised at how bad it was and assuming it was just me being a baby.
After several unsuccessful attempts by my female doctor to remove my IUD by yanking a little harder each time, I insisted on scheduling a procedure under anesthesia because I couldn’t tolerate the pain. Apparently the IUD was stuck on my pubic bone. It cost me $3k because it was elective surgery.
Omg, opening your uterus is very painful... maybe poke into the prostate w no meds. What are these physicians (do not harm) thinking? I had a uterine polyp removed, when I woke up it was so painful I couldn’t talk, the nurse read me and the color draining from my face and immediately administered morphine. The uterus is a closed organ it doesn’t have an auto-open button people
Thank you for talking about this. I've had four live births and MANY procedures before during and after all of them. These discussions about women and their pain are hard to hear. Looking back I realize I never advocated for myself and I have some guilt around that. I had a panic attack during the birth of my third child and so for my fourth I was really upfront with my doctor and the medical staff. This might sound too woo-woo but my fourth was such a magical experience. She came out sunny side up and I actually laughed when I saw her scrunched up face. A few days later I was in tears thinking about how they ALL should have been like that. I had no medical complications or issues with the birth so I had no reason to be in that much pain... It's like I thought, well, I wanted this I have to deal with the pain.
Thank you so much for this. Last week, I finally received a diagnosis for a treatable but uncurable condition that if left untreated too long can be debilitating and lead to cancer. This comes after years of complaining about pain that were dismissed as typical menopausal symptoms. I believe that I did not express fully the pain I was feeling for fear of seeming to be overreacting. And yet, questions were not asked that I now know should have been asked. Tests should have been done that another doctor finally did. Sharing stories like these is essential. Thank you again for encouraging it.
Not to mention that many women are very regularly in menstrual pain and there is no concession for that in the professional world (except for extremely rare employers like Chani Nicholas, who offers "unlimited menstrual leave"). More than once I've had pain that turned out to be something specific and treatable (and potentially very problematic if left untreated) but it took me a long time to seek diagnosis because being in pain is just... normal for people with uteruses? At one point I told my boss about an issue and he asked how long I'd been dealing with the pain and I said "oh, a couple of months" and he was like, a couple of MONTHS?? I explained that I've spent a couple of days of every month in pain since I was 12 years old, so sometimes it just doesn't occur to me to actually do something about it.
Everyone should listen to The Retrievals, for sure. Mindblowing.