A New Decade of ME Research: The 11th Invest in ME International ME Conference 2016
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An article worth sharing. How medicine treats women's pain.

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Snowdrop, Oct 15, 2015.

  1. Snowdrop

    Snowdrop Rebel without a biscuit

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  2. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    OH HOW I HOPE THOSE PEOPLE SUE THAT COMPLACENT, NEGLIGENT, HACK DOCTOR.

    But for what it's worth, I don't think it's like that every single where. Not sure we can take this as a good example of typical misogyny in the entire medical profession...although it could be a good example of the condescension typical of male doctors, especially of those over a certain age. Not all, but a sadly large number.

    I say this because as a middle-aged woman, I know that sometimes I'm invisible and sometimes I get a lot of attention, even with very little pushing on my part. That's true of any situation, whether doctor's offices or retail establishments, whatehaveyou. Depends on the culture of the place where I am, not just the sex of the person I'm interacting with.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
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  3. ScottTriGuy

    ScottTriGuy Stop the harm. Start the research and treatment.

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    There is something wrong with the medical system that this happens as a matter of course.
     
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  4. Snowdrop

    Snowdrop Rebel without a biscuit

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    Yes, reading the article it seems the decision to ignore her pain was based on very little. And no one was prepared to listen to her husband even. It's a catch 22. If she had been able to play down her feeling pain it still would not have gotten her treated faster.
    You have to wonder how many people suffer and die at the hands of this type of medicine when there is no one to be an advocate.
     
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  5. helen1

    helen1 Senior Member

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    Wish the author had said if they tried to track down that terrible ER doctor or if they've decided to do something about it. It's literally a crime the way she was treated.
     
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  6. JaimeS

    JaimeS Senior Member

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    I wonder how important it was to this story's success that a man who could validate her pain did the writing. My wife's pain was real, guys. This places the focus on the man's experience rather than his wife's. I've noted the same pattern in other, similar articles; it's his pain that matters: his dread and horror that he couldn't protect his wife.

    I respect the author for relating his and his wife's difficulties, yet the entire article implores the male audience: imagine how hard it would be for you if this happened to your wife! Not, imagine how hard this would be if you were that woman! It's not overt, but it's there.

    Manpain. Not just in fandom:

    And, most horrifyingly,

    And to clarify, in case it wasn't already clear: manpain isn't defined as any man experiencing emotional pain. For a more thorough definition, an excellent article on manpain as it relates to fannishness here with accompanying music video that is by turns hilarious and disturbing.

    Please don't say "it had to be from his perspective, he wrote it." That misses the point by a good margin.

    -J
     
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  7. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    Sorry, @JaimeS, you know I love you :hug:, and the following comments will seem like I'm singling you out. Please know it's not personal at all.

    I'm sure this won't be popular in general, but I hafta pipe up because I personally am getting a little...disturbed? annoyed? it's hard to find the right word...about the prevalent hypersensitivity we all seem to be okay with exhibiting when it comes any little perceived slight from men. Consequently, I'm feeling a real need these days for cultural balance. Feminism did a real good job of balancing what was a legitimate problem, but now we're swinging over into the realm of unnecessary hypersensitivity about a lot of things. Is feminism truly about effecting equality and allowing all humans to take deserved credit for their achievements, or, at its core is it really about accruing power--deserved or undeserved--to women?

    Anyway, I don't see that it's worth taking issue with the guy wanting to protect his wife. I can see any man, or woman, including myself, coming from the perspective of wanting to protect a family member. I remember when my father had cancer I was quite frantic because I was long distance and didn't think my mother was doing a good enough job advocating for him (because she does not easily oppose authority figures, be they male or female), and I thought he might be too addled by the pain meds to do it for himself. I wasn't so much motivated by the fact that I could put myself in his shoes or empathize well with his situation...I simply couldn't. He had stage IV lung cancer that had migrated into his spine, and was in what I suspect was an unimaginable amount of pain. But even though I couldn't begin to feel his pain, he was my father and I wanted to PROTECT HIM because he was in a situation where he was unable to do it for himself.

    I feel the same way about my aging mother now. My hackles are always raised if I think someone is trying to take advantage of her or doesn't treat her well. God help the doctor that tries to marginalize her if she ever gets really sick (knock wood, she's still in great shape at nearly 80) and I become the primary advocate in her care. I feel this way not so much because I think how horrible would it be if I was in her situation, but because she is my mother and I LOVE HER. It is my natural urge to protect her, and it is not in any way condescending or unsympathetic for me to feel that way.

    So IMO it's pretty fair to assume this author is coming from the same perspective about his wife, even if he isn't enough of a feminist to be able preempt potential offense to some people by spelling it out.

    Therefore, I take issue with the declaration
    It absolutely does NOT miss the point.

    The urge to protect is natural and laudable, no matter which sex is exhibiting it. It's human.

    Further, from the article, I do not think it's at all clear that the hack doctor would necessarily be treating anyone else any better. He was obviously phoning it in, probably just wanted to leave at the end of his shift and leave the hard thinking and out-of-ordinary diagnostics for others. It's absolutely reasonable to suppose that a man with some equally arcane, painful condition who was admitted on his watch would get treated the same way. I call her condition "arcane" because it is nowhere near as common as kidney stones or appendicitis, etc., which is the kind of diagnosis he "phoned in".

    My point is that it's not clear from this article AT ALL that the doctor is more misogynist than hack, and therefore not really worth getting lathered up by imposing an entirely feminist reading onto the article.

    My initial reading produced the feeling that the the doctor is DEFINITELY negligent, and POSSIBLY misogynist. The two terms can be related, because negligence can flow from misogyny, but they are NOT synonyms.

    And as as far as Doctor Who...well, the show is about THE DOCTOR. It is not about the supporting characters that rotate in and out. So it's expected that events in the show will be related from his perspective. At least, that's what I expect.

    At any rate, there are at least as many TV shows, books, and articles, that come from almost a purely feminine perspective, and equal that number that present things from the perspectives of both sexes. Further, I see a disturbing amount of literature these days that makes men the butt of just about everything. I'm not sure why it's okay for us to get up in arms about perceived insults to women and just expect the men to take any old trash we want to sling their way.

    Are we humans, or are we nothing more than the sum of our sexual organs?

    My vote is for the former. From that perspective, and bringing this post back around to the OP, the first doctor is nothing more than a tired hack who should lose his medical license and most of his 401K.

    The condescending nurses involved (I take note that no one is particularly outraged about them...is that because most of them are probably women?) should be reprimanded if they didn't advise the doctor he might be wrong, because it is their job to help the doctor not miss crucial clues to accurate diagnosis. Instead, they enabled and even perpetrated his condescending, hack behavior. And if they advised the doctor and he didn't pay attention, then they need to document so that their behinds are covered in the event of a reprimand or lawsuit.

    We'll never have true equality until we bag all the prejudice (and prejudice includes that type of extreme hypersensitivity to context that allows us to infer or create insults where none exist, especially if the insults allow us to become victims in our own minds) and look at things in a more universal, humanistic, non-gendered way.

    </rant>
     
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  8. ahimsa

    ahimsa Sick since 1990

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    For those who are interested, there was a series of tweets about pain issues by a professor who teaches a seminar on pain.

    Here is the link to storyify: https://storify.com/prof_goldberg/on-the-stigmatization-of-women-s-pain

    (hat tip to twitter user @HurtBlogger, by the way)

    @JaimeS, I do see your point about the Atlantic article being told from the man's point of view.

    On the other hand, when a stigmatized voice (due to being a woman, person of color, GLBT, disabled, etc.) is ignored then I think it can make sense to get help from allies who have more privilege to get the message across. So, until all our voices are heard equally, I will take whatever signal boost I can get if it will improve the situation.

    Of course, if people with privilege are "talking over" marginalized people, or ignoring/erasing them and belittling their concerns, then that's a different story.

    PS. I hope this thread can stay on track and not get too sidelined. Feminism is a very complex topic (e.g., check out http://www.shakesville.com/2010/01/feminism-101.html just as a starting point, esp. http://www.shakesville.com/2008/05/how-feminism-works.html ). We could spend years discussing the various issues and probably never come to any agreement.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015
  9. Snowdrop

    Snowdrop Rebel without a biscuit

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    I would like to believe there is no mention of the negligent DR because a suit is in progress.
    As for the rest I'm glad this is being aired in a wide circulation. Yes better to have the women's POV. the question is always does this represent progress toward that or does it remain stuck here. I hope it represents progress but the proof as always is in what happens next.

    PS I prefer humanism that includes feminist values.
     
  10. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    If we see one another as entirely human then there's really no need to apply any -ism labels to our values. A goal worth striving for, IMO.
     
  11. Valentijn

    Valentijn WE ARE KINA

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    Agreed. But we also need to fight for the "other" voices to be recognized. Healthy white men being able to step up and vouch for the experiences of the disabled, women, and racial minorities isn't a satisfactory solution. We have to keep pushing to have all voices given the same credence.

    In the case of medical abuse resulting from such biases, the obvious solution is to sue the bastards until they learn to take patients seriously. They shouldn't be allowed to arbitrarily declare female pain as being 70% hysteria + 30% real (mild) pain, but if nothing is done except writing anonymous outraged articles, they have no incentive to change.
     
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  12. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    THIS. :thumbsup: I hope they're suing the pants off him AND the hospital if the bean counters decreed any understaffing that may have led to this. Understaffing can frequently lead to "care fatigue", which in turn leads to sloppy procedure and misdiagnosis.

    This is absolutely correct.

    But, again, nowhere in this article does it definitively indicate that this woman was ignored because she was a woman rather than the doctor is a tired, overworked, negligent hack. If I misread and there is more to support the supposition of misogyny beyond a subjective interpretation of events on the part of the author-husband, can someone please point it out to me?

    Please know I'm not saying misogyny in medicine doesn't exist...I know it does because I've been on the receiving end of it.

    But I also know from personal experience we need to be wary of imposing "-ism" views on events that have nothing to do with "-isms". That way lies madness and tiring/tiresome perpetual outrage. In this case, my feeling is that the doc (and the nurses) were probably just lazy in the face of a diagnosis that would have taken some effort to make during an extremely busy shift, and that they all probably would have treated any one presenting with severe abdominal or back pain in the same manner, because that was the common and easy way out.
     
  13. Snowdrop

    Snowdrop Rebel without a biscuit

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    I'm not altogether convinced that having a woman put her name to this kind of paper is sufficient for change. I'm not saying that such a paper should not be written.

    While I have no science background I will state that the experience and the hardwiring of women's pain is most probably different to that of men.

    With that in mind I find there are a number of issues to address in clearing this problem up. Why for example do women Dr's insist that the experience of PMS is normal even when it involves days of literally writhing in pain? I have a collection of reliable anecdotes to support that this is so. Why do these women not feel free to challenge the assumption of women exaggerating their pain experience. I have no clue why this is so.

    OTOH, nurses cannot just go about telling Dr's what they should be doing--although that would vastly improve things I expect. There are several reasons for this but that's not to say that some brave soul (nurse) might not risk doing so (especially in clear and egregious cases) despite the trouble that follows. The problem is why do nurses actually drink the kool-aid. It's one thing to do your job and not exceed your authority but another to agree with the insanity.

    The problems here are more than just individuals and their biases and more also than really bad medical training on the subject. The problems are institutional and in my opinion there is a lot of culpability that belongs to psychiatry who seems to be the stomping ground of this notion that previously had no specific champion.

    Fighting this notion of women exaggerating their pain needs to be fought by everyone and the central nexus of belief targeted and rooted out.
     
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  14. whodathunkit

    whodathunkit Senior Member

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    Because women can be even more callous regarding women's pain than men. There is at least as much woman-on-woman misogony as man-on-woman misogony.

    I have been called a "conservative hag" by a woman because I dared defend a man in polite terms against her blantantly unfair tirade. Misogony, anyone? :rolleyes: :meh:

    This is why I'm often leery of painting men's and women's callousness with a different brush, absent a lot of supporting evidence (repeated observable behavior or whatever). Most true callousness and condescension proceeds from a very human place (be they ignorance, individual personality issues, whatever), instead of from sex or gender issues. Of course I still do attribute some behaviors on the part of men to misogogny sometimes, but after some rational thought later I'm frequently forced to admit I might have been wrong. Point is, absent a lot of supporting evidence like repeated interactions that confirm the assessment, we frequently can't know if true misogny is at play or if the person's just a jerk at his/her core.

    That said, I used to be one of those women writhing in pain. Because of fibroids and probably adhesion issues to the bowels, I would literally scream in pain for the first two days of my period. Incidentally, saw palmetto stopped this horrible cramping after a couple months of daily use, and it never returned even after I stopped taking it a year or so later. Still had flow problems, etc., but the cramps thankfully stopped.

    Anyway, that I can recall, I never had trouble getting pain meds or sympathy from the various GYNs or primaries I encountered during this time, woman or man. They all believed my pain was real, and they sympathized. The biggest problem was they were basically two-trick ponies: they all wanted me to try birth control pills, which I can't take because of sides, or get a hysterectomy, which I was afraid of because of potential adhesion problems. They were all varying degrees of annoyed because I declined these two solutions.

    I will say the female doctors were less likely to condescend to me by giving me the "Well, you just never tried birth control pills under my magical, special tutelage, little lady, heh heh heh" attitude, but it was a lessening of degree and presentation (women, by and large, do not pull off little lady or the condescending heh-heh-heh well at all), not an absence of the phenomenon. They all did it. The women just took me at my word sooner and were somewhat less persistent.

    Care fatigue and culture. Attitudes frequently flow down from the top, and docs are at the top of the cultural heap in a hospital. A tired lazy person at the top makes it a lot easier for people below him to also be tired and lazy. From this article it also sounds like there was a fundamental culture shift when the next shift doc came on, who actually bothered to look at the tests, and cared. She happened to be a woman, but after her everyone in the chain seemed to care: the male ultrasound tech, the male surgeon (who is probably above her in the cultural hierarchy because he's a surgeon), etc. Different PEOPLE.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2015

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