I tend not to speak out on my own personal experience with race, racism, and feelings around microaggressions I have had thrown at me. As much as I speak out against injustice and am a big proponent of love, support, peace, and joy, I notice now that I – more subconsciously than not – keep quiet about me; maybe I block all the experiences out. However, today I am going against the grain on that front. If sharing my experience can give someone else power and the encouragement to press on and keep fighting, then it’s so worth the share.
Where The Present Issue Began
It had been two years in the making. Two. Years. Suspected to be part of the inflammation and flares from my autoimmune illnesses, I began having incredibly intense, sharp pains in my abdomen. A quick-ish visit to an ED while away from home found with a CT scan that I had a fairly large amount of fluid in my abdominal cavity surrounding organs and gastrointestinal fluid; something that is highly abnormal. That, among other things, has been a big source of bodily discomfort over the past two years. My family members and I were each excited to find out – once we learned that the fluid was draining from my lymphatic system – that there was a doctor a few states away in PA who dealt solely and specifically with chylous ascites (lymphatic abdominal fluid) and was a great specialist in this area. Of course insurance issues and getting better or worse health-wise (in the hospital at home) always seemed to get in the way of my trip down there.
A few weeks ago, I finally made it – amid a pandemic and all – and just knew that my problem (at least this one) would be solved. For good. A couple of exploratory/laparoscopic procedures later, I laid in my hospital bed writhing in pain; barely able to open my eyes or see straight; or stay in one spot, or keep from getting sick in those lovely pink, plastic hospital wash basins.
The best I got from doctors and nurses alike? ‘Oh, it will go away. It’s just from the procedures.’ (I went to the ED at home three days later; it wasn’t just the procedures, Y’all) I spend two extra nights, three days in a hotel in horrific pain because I couldn’t even RIDE in a car for all the bumps that would create worsened pain, which at that point was unimaginable. The pain would not let up in the slightest until I had a sufficient amount of pain medicine in my system. Never have I ever had, or wanted to have, that many doses of morphine in my system in one day. I took the maximum safest amount of doses – as I am always overly cautious about opioids – ; but still, it didn’t even touch the pain until the next day, when I also felt all of the side effects. I couldn’t see straight for a different reason that day…
This is all setting the scene, but the truth is, this is not uncommon. Article after article, post after post, comment on this very topic. Many healthcare professionals, God bless them, have a tendency to not believe patients – especially patients of color – about their bodily knowledge and/or their level of abnormal pain. This, then, can have – and has had – dire, sometimes fatal, consequences. Yet, patients like me tend not to talk about it, thinking it is unique to us. I personally believe I block out those types of experiences – and yes, I’m putting this in the category of racial inequity and microaggressions -, though I now realize the importance of speaking up, even when it’s about me specifically!
This Happens Too Much
This happens way too often, I have learned, for me to stay silent. I myself took for granted my connections in healthcare and that fact that many healthcare professionals who have known and cared for me also know that I am very knowledgeable about my own body especially, having been through a lot during my lifetime, and so gaining tons of information and insight into what and when something may be wrong – especially as it involves pain. These doctors and nurses themselves did not know me in this capacity, and I almost let that be their excuse. But no, it cannot be so; I must call out the injustice.
People die because of lack of care received, same as what I experienced. The ability to tell when my body is in a dangerous place does not come as easily to everyone. I am fortunate to have developed this skill, which means I must speak up and speak out for those who aren’t so sure of themselves because they are being told something different and haven’t had similar experiences with pain as I myself have had; this is part of my duty and calling.
You can be sure I have a few things to say at my virtual follow up appointment and to the President of the hospital. But if nothing else, please get this lesson out of my post: YOU MATTER. WE MATTER. It is important to speak up when you feel like something is wrong… not just for you, but for the lives who do not have the privilege of a determined, heard, and understood voice. We must be there for each other, as social, communal beings.
Love and Light, Peace and Joy… always.
Another Note: If you are enjoying what I write and are following along on this writing journey with me, please let someone else know! Share in whatever way you feel comfortable. I would love to be a support to more people; as many as possible. Thanks for the love, and know it is coming back at you many times over!