Shamed into feeling like an hysterical female

“Yes, a tight band of severe pain across my chest on the least exertion — going to get a cup a tea can cause it. Feels like your lungs feel in extreme cold when you have bronchitis and you take a deep breath. Significant pain and then I have to lie down for it to resolve.”

The doctor came in after a bit and explained things more thoroughly with this new audience, teaching while not listening, rather than just not listening.

We talked for a while. And then the bottom line, as the doctor talked to the med student.

“What we really are dealing with here is anxiety. Because it is anxiety that would take her to the ER on a Saturday with what might be a blood clot. Most people would wait until Monday and call here to get an appointment, but she went to the ER. This is just anxiety we need to be treating.”

It happened in the big snowstorm of ’16, being picked up by firemen and transported over snow and ice to an ambulance that couldn’t get to our house in the snow. And then into an ER, elevated troponin levels, T-wave inversions on my EKG, suddenly things started happening very quickly, and an overnight stay, then a transfer to a larger hospital, then a heart catheterization that was almost turned into bypass surgery because of the 90 percent blockage in a main artery, then an unfortunate, big bleed that has left me flat on my back for the past 38 hours.

Yeah, that sounds just like anxiety.

And the sad fact is that I waited. I waited because I felt shamed into feeling like an hysterical female, shamed into feeling like I was just anxious…

Under comments:

Cristy Holden
The medical “system” does not value women. As patients we are not heard, not trusted with our own knowledge of our bodies. I had a stroke, knew it was a stroke, when to the ER and was told I was probably a drug addict seeking heavy meds. No treatment. No relief of pain. A month later a female neurologist confirmed the brain tumor that caused the stroke. American medicine is a not only a joke, its dangerous. Use at your own risk.

Melissa Frykman-Thieme ยท Vashon, Washington
My story is so much like yours, Patti. My heart attack was actively happening and the medics, as well as the ER doctors said it must just be “anxiety and a belly ache,” They told me to pick up some antacids on the way back to my island home in the middle of the night. I said, “No, I’ll just camp out in the waiting room.” To which they replied, “No, we don’t let patients do that.” FInally my husband and I convinced them to do another blood test before we were kicked out. This test revealed that yes I was having a heart attack. Further, it was too late to have any clot-busting drugs or treatment that could have reversed the heart attack. I eventually got five stents, a spontaneous coronary artery resection (during my diagnostic heart catheterization) and a triple cardiac bypass surgery. My life, from age fifty on, has changed irreparably. I no longer am able to work, and I have frequent trips back to the ER. I have developed PTSD related to the awful and terrifying experiences in the operating room as well as the ER…

Piroska Balogh
I rarely run into blatant sexism, but with doctors it’s common. My concerns are dismissed with one or more of the following: ‘It’s all in your head.’, ‘There is no such thing.’, ‘Other people do fine.’ ‘Smile! You look prettier when you smile!’ Being dismissed by a surgeon has left me with permanent nerve damage in my leg. When I complained he said,’Well, you can still go shopping!’

Bellanova Nova
After an attack of appendicitis, I found out that one of the diagnoses given me by the assessing doctor (whom I saw for the first time) was an… anxiety disorder. I scratched my head trying to figure out what would have caused her to come up with it. It must have been my muted but persistent complaints about the pain, I concluded, for which she did not have an answer…

Michele Guthrie
My daughter was told over and over, mostly by male doctors, that there was nothing wrong with her; that her pain was all in her head. She was also accused of drug-seeking. After exploratory surgery, it turned out she had massive internal scar-tissue buildup from the removal of an ovary several years ago…

13 thoughts on “Shamed into feeling like an hysterical female

      • If you pretend to be a guy expect to get all the crap they dish out to women, plus the “be a man, take the pain” crap they give to guys. As a woman you can cry, show emotion or vocalize your pain without someone telling you you’re less of a woman for doing so. Do that as a man, and you will be treated with utter contempt by both male and female doctors.

        My own observation being involved in support groups is that women generally have an easier time getting their pain treated than men do, even though they are supposedly more likely to abuse opioids. You get the sister solidarity from female docs and the white knighting from male ones, two things no man ever gets.


        • I think both men and women have trouble getting their pain treated, but I’ve found that women are usually more vocal about it. It seems like men, especially veterans, just try to grin and bear it. But I think doctors who come across a male patient who’s crying take that as a sign that the patient is actually in pain. Like men have to cry to have their pain adequately treated and women are just looked at as hysterical in the same scenario.

          A lot of people have trouble with witnessing another person cry, but don’t you think men have more of a problem with that than women? I’d say that if more men would cry in public, in front of other men, more men would accept that crying is normal. After all, crying is just the opposite of laughing. And so I guess we can thank President Obama for his recent public display of tears. ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. ya, good bud to be had, but for a good price too. but bud and chocolate–erggreikened—worst ever possible combo. tastes like you’re really eating hay or grass right out of the yard mixed with some gooey over the top sweet and chewy chocolate. if you like to eat grass just alone, or with chocolate, then chocolate pot is for you. if however you like to leave your grass in the ground and let critters eat it, and have your chocolate untainted, then no bud with chocolate is the thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a hard time with the taste of cannabis edibles, too. But recently, I was given a sample of some cannafudge that was absolutely delicious. Like, to die for. Unfortunately, it didn’t have any pain-relieving effects, but damn, it was awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. Most doctors I’ve encountered here in NL are women. Everything I’ve gone to doctors for has been taken very seriously. I’ve even been lightly reprimanded for talking about something that happened and not coming in to see my GP.

    One more reason to get over here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How would I get my 12-year-old car overseas? I need that car in case I end up homeless. Are there any homeless people over there?

      Anyway, I’ve already done all the traveling I’m going to do in this life, but I have to say that I so envy your endless supply of bud. Sounds a little like heaven. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Homeless people..there might be. There might be ghettos here, too, but I haven’t seen them. It’s a very socialistic country, despite any capitalist lashings they’ve adopted. Truly amazing.

        Liked by 1 person

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