I used to have a Tumblr blog. This post is a comment I left in a long chain of comments about an important topic that I don’t think gets very much attention.
The original poster, a woman, wrote in great detail the severity of her health issues, and how frustrated she was because her doctors flat out refused to listen to what she was telling them. Sadly, there were so many other women who had the same, frustrating experiences with their doctors.
They added their voices to the post. Some of the younger women noted that their parents wouldn’t take their symptoms seriously, and that this prevented them from getting the medical help they needed. I decided to add my personal experiences to the list.
When I was in first grade, the lunch ladies made us all finish our cartons of milk before recess. I told them I couldn’t do that because I was lactose intolerant. I knew this because my brother was and we had the same symptoms.
They decided I was faking it, and wouldn’t let me me leave the lunchroom until I drank all of my milk. Every school day, I ended up with stomach cramps so severe that I would end up curled up on a cot in the nurse’s office, crying.
The nurse told my parents that I was faking it so I could get out of the classroom during math instruction. They believed her – despite the fact that my brother had the exact same symptoms after drinking milk.
In high school, I lost my hearing almost completely. I told my parents that I had allergies like my brother did, and that I wanted to be tested. They insisted that I didn’t have any allergies, that I was faking my symptoms. My hearing slowly disappeared to the point where I was lip reading my entire freshman year of high school.
I failed a hearing test at school, and someone with authority required my parents to take me to a hearing specialist and allergist. The hearing specialist did another hearing test (which I also failed) and took x-rays of my head.
Turned out my untreated allergies had finally gotten so bad that it pretty much closed up my sinuses. The x-rays also revealed my ears (which are visibly malformed) aren’t right on the inside, either. So, he couldn’t treat me by putting tubes in my ears.
My parents insisted I was faking it – that I could hear – and that I was ignoring them because I was a “bitch.”
The allergist that my parents must have been required to take me to did a blood test and a skin test and found I was highly allergic to TONS of things. I was given a list of things I was allergic to (so I could avoid them) prescribed an antihistamine, and was started on allergy shots.
I was seventeen-and-a-half at the time. I went through my entire childhood with my parents insisting I was faking my symptoms. Meanwhile, my brother, with similar symptoms, was being taken to doctors and allergists weekly.
As an adult, I was working in a daycare that was part of a hospital. We used latex gloves with the babies (to change diapers, wipe noses, for feeding – changing to clean gloves in between each, of course). I developed rashes on my hands that I knew was a sign of a latex allergy.
The allergist who worked for the hospital insisted the I didn’t have a latex allergy. The rash was because of “stress”, he declared. I pushed him to do an allergy test anyway, and pretty much had to fight him for it. The test came back saying I have a latex allergy. The allergist chose to ignore the test result, and said that the results of the allergy test “means nothing.”
This was years before non-latex gloves were commonly used, and non-latex gloves were expensive. The allergist didn’t want to help me because it would have cost the hospital money and make him look bad.
Years later, as I was leaving the hospital day care and moving across the state for a job as a substitute teacher, I obtained a copy of my medical charts. It included doctor’s notes. The allergist wrote that I was “stressed” and “irritable”, and didn’t know what I was talking about. He wrote that the brand-new-on-the-market antihistamines he prescribed, and that made my stomach sick, really didn’t – it was all just “stress”.
My current doctor did a blood test this year to check for an infection and to find out what my vitamin D levels were. My latex allergy showed up so high that it scared her. She’s been really helpful and is referring me to a rheumatologist to see about my joint pain.