This week's episode of Last Week Tonight couldn't have been more poignant for me. It was about bias in medicine and how women and people of color are often not believed about their symptoms or trusted with proper methods of treatment.
And before I go further I'll just acknowledge my privilege right here. For starters, I'm white. I grew up with insurance and access to healthcare, currently have insurance via my partner's company provided healthcare, and live near high end medical institutions. My experience is by no means as bad as it gets. Which should be fucking alarming because it can be, and is for many, so much worse. Serena Williams's story is a perfect and horrific example of this and how socio-economic status is only a fraction of the problem.
I'm not going to list out all of the appalling details from the episode, but please watch it. It's 20 minutes long and eye opening. John Oliver has an abundant list of outrageous statistics and real life experiences of bias in medicine that has or could've resulted in someone's death. And as he points out, these biases increase medical risk the further you are away from white and male.
(Oh and before you read further--I know not all doctors are like this and that white men can have bad experiences too. Keep the bigger problem in mind.)
Since I was a kid, I've had a slew of ridiculous doctor's experiences. Let's go down the list.*
When I asked if I was able to get pre-measured doses to administer myself, at home, I received a quick and forceful no. We trust patients with blood clots to take home two weeks worth of Warfarin and diabetics to take insulin (both injected medications with potential catastrophic side effects) but don't trust women to administer their birth control. I pointed this fact out and both the doctor and the nurse did not argue with my point but said they could not send me home with the shot.
I'm hoping that I'll feel more like myself in the coming weeks and the pain will subside, but in the meantime--it's 2019. Doctors should be required to take bias training. We should believe women and people of color about their pain and symptoms. Women are perfectly fucking capable of making decisions about their bodies.
Please listen to your bodies and talk to your doctors about what you're experiencing. If they're not listening, and you have the option, find a new doctor. And if all else fails, listen to Wanda Sykes and bring a white man to your appointments.
*None of this is medical advice, just my journey of advocating for myself.