My Pain Is Valid



I have always known that I had a high threshold for pain. It’s tears that I cannot hold back, and that is one area of my life that comes with both good and bad effects.

Sometime in early August, I had a health scare that landed me in the hospital; a place I hadn’t gone for my own treatment since I had my kids. I started off having terrible cramps. Even though I was on my period, I knew these were not period cramps, as I was already seeing Aunt Flo and for me, the cramps come before Aunt Flo shows up and leaves after the first day, ‘when everything is up running smoothly’. That’s how Aunt Flo and I roll.

Anyways, this cramp was quite painful but I ignored it. I ate lunch and left the house to run a few errands. How I got home that afternoon, I had no idea; all I knew was I collapsed in pain on the bed and that was where my hubby met me hours later, when he got home. He got me some drugs but that only worsened the pain.

By 9:30pm, I could bear the pain no more, so I asked him to take me to the hospital. We got there and for close to two hours, a young doctor kept asking me questions, going to talk over my symptoms with his Medical Director and I lay there in pain. I was now shivering, had a headache and my innards were on fire. The doctor’s insistence on prodding my tummy every once in a while, meant my pain was multiplied by, at least, a hundred degrees every time he touched me. At last, he and his MD and even I, agreed, every part of my stomach hurt; from the belly button, to the sides, to just below my breasts, my pelvis, everywhere was hurting.

So, next thing I was told was I would be admitted for 48 hours. The doctor had burst my veins open, collected blood samples in two specimen bottles. All this while, no one mentioned anything for my pain.

Meanwhile, my husband, who had gone to sort out the admin issues came back and told me the deposit the hospital was requesting for before they started treatment. It was a no brainer; there was no way that kind of money was going to come from our pockets right then. I told him to take me to a General Hospital.

He did not want to go, the customer service person tried to cajole him into using the ATM at that time of the day and increasing the cash he had on him, the female doctor on duty was insisting on the stated amount and had one time even said they wouldn’t accept less, because there was just too much to treat in me.

When she said that, I knew there was no way I was going to sleep in that hospital and so, I mustered all my strength, sat up straight and told him I could make it to a Government Hospital. It was almost 12 midnight but we got to the hospital  and after 15 minutes, my husband was asked to go and buy a pain-relieving injection and it was the first thing I was given after I was examined and questions asked. I was then asked to go for some tests, pelvic/abdominal scan, a typhoid and malaria test, the next day.

As soon as we got home, I just lay on my tummy and slept for the next six hours. I woke up feeling as though my body had been put through the wringer. I was so tired and parts of my tummy still ached but it was way better than the day before.

As soon as I was able to stand upright, I went for my tests, which showed I had a touch of malaria, typhoid but nothing came up abnormal in my abdomen or pelvic area.

Interestingly, the first hospital we went to was the same one I took my husband to earlier this year, when he was feeling poorly, and we had been attended to way faster than I had been. We had talked about the difference in the treatment and his final word had been that doctors know that before a man would fall ill and be admitted in the hospital, he must have been in serious pain, so they will treat him faster.

In reverse, that means that women go through more regular pain; from menstrual pain to pains of childbirth, so their bodies would have automatically developed a mechanism that manages the pain. In plain English, women can bear more pain than women. That is my husband’s theory though.


It got me thinking if there was another sexist stuff in the health sector where everyone should ideally be equal. I found a story online on this and here’s a paragraph from the article:

“Female pain might be perceived as constructed or exaggerated”: We saw this from the moment we entered the hospital, as the staff downplayed Rachel’s pain, even plain ignored it. In her essay, Jamison refers back to “The Girl Who Cried Pain,” a study identifying ways gender bias tends to play out in clinical pain management. Women are “more likely to be treated less aggressively in their initial encounters with the health-care system until they ‘prove that they are as sick as male patients,’” the study concludes—a phenomenon referred to in the medical community as “Yentl Syndrome.”

Given the fact that this type of scenario actually has a name, I guess my husband was right after all.

And then in the course of the past week, I found this new study, which is now in our Women’s Lounge group (you should  check it out),  about how most drugs were formulated for the male biology. It’s absolutely depressing, as I wonder if I have been over-dosing, or under-dosing, for most of my life on drugs.

This was what part of the study said, “Unfortunately, many scientists ignore these basic biological realities (between men and women), doing drug and vaccine testing only on men or doing it on both genders but not separating the results. This means that women often get too-high doses of medications and vaccines, which can have unintended, and sometimes very serious, health consequences. (Even worse: Women are more likely to be ignored, misdiagnosed or written off when they report pain or other adverse symptoms.)

Need I say more? I can only pray and hope that something changes in the medical field with regards to their reaction to females in pain and also the formulation of drugs that are just perfect for our biological make up.

However, I believe, this study is a step forward for the female folks, even though we still have a long way to go.

Hugs and baby dust to you ladies!



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