Everyone has the right to medical care. This should be a given, but many people still face serious hurdles when it comes to getting the medical care they need.
For example, women were once frequently diagnosed with “hysteria,” an ill-defined condition that’s no longer even medically recognized, but was useful in shunting women’s needs aside. More recent studies have shown that women are less likely to be effectively treated for pain.
Writer Suzannah Weiss started a powerful Twitter thread asking women about their own experiences with getting diagnosed for illnesses:
Her tweet was accompanied by a list of all the doctors she had seen while seeking a diagnosis.
She starts with a humorous take on her medical journey, but then takes a serious look at the issue, focusing on those most likely to face challenges when seeking medical treatment: women, people of color, nonbinary folks, and LGBTQ individuals.
She discusses how marginalized populations are dismissed as hypochondriacs or criticized for turning to alternative medicine. What are people supposed to do when they’re in pain, though?
Ultimately, it comes down to the same theme underlying the #metoo movement: we need to believe women.
Women responded with their own stories of being dismissed and going to extraordinary lengths to get the medical treatment they needed.
This woman had fevers for a year:
This woman spent six months being blamed for her illness:
And these women spent years without a diagnosis:
These are just a few of the many, many responses to Weiss’ tweet. If you’re suffering and your doctor is dismissive, don’t be afraid to get a second (or third) opinion if you can. Take a friend or loved one with you for support.
If you have a loved one with a chronic illness, do everything you can to be there for them. And most importantly, believe them.