When I was 15, I saw my GP has I had lost a tampon. The male GP vaginally examined me without offering a chaperone and without any gloves. 5 years that same GP refused to allow me to access the implant contraception, not based on medical reasons but because he thought I was irresponsible. When I was 17, my male driving instructor used to had my had, touch my thigh and kiss my hand. Told mum and dad which resulted in dad standing outside the house at the end of my lesson. However, when he called asking if I wanted to book another block of lessons, I told my parents that I didn’t want to speak to him but they made me speak to him. At Uni, a man smacked my bum so hard I cannot describe how painful it was. Another time, a man wanted to kiss me but I said no. When I turned around he trier to shoved me down the stairs. I have have my breasts touched, shoulders massaged and personal spaced invaded at work. I have been asked repeatedly out for dinner by a senior colleague to the point I avoided meetings with him. When my colleague told my boss and spoke to him about it, he refused to speak to me again. Had a doctor say he would cover a night shift if I left a rose for him in the on call room. I have been denied the opportunity to apply for a promotion at work due to being on maternity leave (it was advertised internally only).
For all my life I have never wanted children and never will. If I do I will just adopt. But that still doesn’t stop people from denying me of getting my tubes tied. Even though I have heavy mensural bleeding, debilitating periods every month, and endometriosis. It’s awful being told that I don’t know what I want and that I have no control over my body. It’s awful.
It took 4 trips to A&E, 12 GP visits, 2 calls to the Samaritans and a relapse in self harm over the course of just shy of 4 months before I was given an appointment to see a Consultant Gynaecologist after a failed attempt to remove a Mirena contraceptive coil. I was told I was being hysterical. That women have pain in their abdomens all the time and I should just deal with it. I was told it was all in my head. I was asked if I was pregnant even after I’d told them the pain was because I had a coil in situ that had been messed with. They asked if I could have an STD and did multiple panels to check even when I said no each time. They asked my then boyfriend (now husband) to leave so I “would be honest” when they asked if I’d had an affair and if that could be how I could’ve caught an STD (I’ve never had an STD, ever). It took my partner coming in, in uniform (Police), with a notebook and pen telling them he saw that I was in pain for anybody to even try to listen. And it still took two more appointments before they finally scanned my abdomen, 3 and 3/4 months after they first yanked on the coil. I was in emergency surgery the next morning to remove the coil which had punched its way through my womb and up towards my diaphragm, leaving infection and wounds in its wake. I was on the verge of developing sepsis from the pelvic infection. But I was just a “hysterical woman”, right? The stress on my body from the infection, internal wounds and emergency surgery (which later became re-infected and caused a re-admittance to hospital) is now beleived to be what triggered my disability, Fibromyalgia. Prior to the initial GP appointment to remove the coil I was in the gym 6 days a week, competing in Strongwoman events and losing weight steadily (I was approaching 7 stone down). Now I find it hard to keep a job, have a normal life or experience anything without pain…all because it took almost 4 months for a Doctor to believe a woman that she was in pain enough to scan her body.
I’ve suffered from recurrent uti’s since I was about 4yrs old. Nobody has ever been able to figure out exactly why but I’ve seen a lot of Doctors and had a lot of things stuck up me for tests. The worst that springs to mind was when I was 20. I sat in the room with a nurse, I was wearing nothing but a hospital gown, thinking “maybe this time. This time they’ll be able to help me…” So the (male, obvs) Doctor comes bursting into the room with a loud “Good Morning!” without even looking me. He skimmed over my notes, then turned round and without so much as a ‘by your leave’ painfully shoved his finger right up in me. He was in there for all of 2 seconds before pulling it out and saying there was nothing wrong with me. Then he sternly told me I should stay away from boys (I was still a virgin) and left the room. I started crying in the car home.
Earlier this month I went to the Nairobi Women’s Hospital. I was looking forward to accessing healthcare at a clinic that tailors to women’s health concerns. I felt safe. The doctor I saw was a man, and I didn’t think anything of it. I figured he was well-versed in treating his patients with respect. I was bloated. I wanted him to address the issue. He asked if he could feel my stomach. I had a brief moment where I worried he would take advantage of me – it happens, after all. But I told myself I was being paranoid. “Let it go, Caro.” It was fine. He sent me to the lab to do some tests. I felt vulnerable. Scared. When I returned to his office with the test results – as instructed – he simply looked at them and laughed. Laughing at someone’s test results is not exactly the path to rapport-building. Finally, he looked up at me with a sardonic smile. “Everything’s fine.” Now, how much longer are you in Kenya for?” 2 months. “Does that mean I won’t be able to take you out for dinner or a coffee?” I wanted to spit in his face. To tell him he was being unprofessional. To storm out. But I froze. He was about to fill out a prescription for me and I worried that if I told him to fuck off, he would prescribe me something else – something completely useless, or harmful. Paranoid, perhaps. But you never know. Finally, I spoke. “I’m in a relationship.” “That doesn’t matter,” he said. “You’re a very beautiful women. It only makes sense that I would ask you.” I felt like puking. Just an hour earlier I had gone to this women’s clinic, excited to be in a place that purportedly caters to its patients needs, that respects them. This was clearly not the case. Had I known that he was so unprofessional, I wouldn’t have let him touch my stomach. I wouldn’t have even shaken his hand. I told the only woman staff member I saw on the way out. She said “I’m sorry.” I’m looking into who I can report this to.
I have had an eating disorder for years. It has fortunately been mild for most of my life, but the worst period was during a summer when I was in college. I lost 30 pounds in 2 months and became underweight. I was in denial about my eating disorder then, and told everyone I was experiencing stomach pains that kept me from eating. (I WAS experiencing stomach pains, but they stemmed from not eating, not the other way around.) When I went to the doctor for my alleged stomach issue, the first thing he said in response to me explaining my pains was “Well you look good.” I had JUST begun to eat normal amounts again, and this incident makes me angry to this day.
Just over a year ago, I had a miscarriage. My cycle still has not gone back to normal and my hormones are still all over the place. I am putting off the place for fear it will be put down to ”just my weight” and I feel like I am wasting doctors’ time and it’s my own problem to fix. I know this is ridiculous, a part of my body isn’t working, and if it was anything else I’d get it sorted. Yet I can’t muster the courage to go to the doctor.
I have a recurrent issue with ovary infections that first started a couple of years ago. It feels like you’re being stabbed just at random intervals, so I eventually booked for going to the doctor about it, not knowing what it was at the time. We started with all the normal questions, like stuff that could actually cause random aches for no reason sort of clear reason. About 5 minutes in the GP looks really puzzled and then asks me if I’ve had sex. I say no. The GP asks one question in between that and then asking if I had a boyfriend. No. I didn’t. She then asked if I’d had sex. She asked me about 10 times in different forms if I was pregnant. How I’d have managed that without a sort of necessary prerequesite to being pregnant, I’m really not sure. I had just turned 16, and I was being asked the same question over and over because apparently it’s normal for young people to not really understand what that is or something. And it was just an infection (the second of many) which should be a fairly bog standard thing that gets thought of. I’m not even intending to get pregnant ever. Why I’d start when I was 16, I really don’t know, given that.
I went into Urgent Care this morning after being sick for a week. The male nurse doing my intake called me the wrong name three times. After I kept correcting him, he asked if I didn’t want to change my name- the other one was “sexy.”