I don’t have a good relationship with the medical community. It’s not something I actively sought to do. I did not wake up one morning and decide that I am not going to like anything that pertains to hospitals, doctors or the medical fraternity.
Almost all of my experiences with doctors and hospitals have not been good.
My hands were placed in hot water and a tweezer-like device was used to pinch my eczema to open the wounds. I could not cry because I was told to hold still. I screamed in agony inside. The pain I experienced was ignored. I was 6 years old.
I went under local anaesthetic for a growth that needed to be removed. All I recall about that incident was being woken up roughly with a nurse telling me, “This isn’t a hotel and I must wake up and go home.” She kept smacking my cheek until she felt I was awake enough to walk home. I was 18 years old at the time.
I recall feeling as if I was drunk even though I had never consumed alcohol. I took a slow walk home, disoriented and in pain.
My son was delivered by emergency caesarean section because the gynaecologist refused to look at my medical records and didn’t listen to me when I said “normal birth” was not possible. Instead, his words were, “all my ladies give birth naturally.” After 24 hours of labour, with me and my son going into shock, they finally rushed me into the operating theatre. I woke up during the operation screaming in pain because I could feel the scalpel cutting through my lower abdomen. It was not only painful but traumatizing.
I was rushed to hospital with one of the first cases of Covid because my husband had travelled to the countries that were experiencing high instances of the pandemic. The doctor in charge did not allow me into the hospital, instead, he diagnosed me while I remained in the car and he stood about a metre away. He sent me home telling me I don’t have Covid. I had pneumonia and ended up very ill, being rushed to hospital a day later unable to breathe.
I was told or encouraged to have the flu shot due to my chronic asthma. I had it in April 2020 and for 10 months after that I had 22 bouts of flu. I would have flu, then feel better for a day or two then would have it again. My immune system was so weak but nobody would listen to me. These were both public and private doctors.
Medical racism against Black and Brown women is real. The bias we experience at the hands of health care workers makes it nigh impossible for us to look on them as kind and gentle when our lived experiences tell a different story.
The worst aspect of all this is the blind spot these health care workers have when dealing with us. It is no surprise that the medical relationship Black and Brown women have is built on mistrust and pain. There are too many stories out there about this type of treatment and too many times, though we complain that we are ignored. We are often treated as if our skins are made of blubber and our ailments are “in our heads,” figments of our imaginations.
It is time that health care workers were taught along with learning about medicine, that they are blinded by the biases in the way they treat us. There can be no relationship except one of mistrust when it pertains to Black and Brown women.