I needed your help. I was desperate for your help. You discredited me due to my sex.
After dealing with dystonia and other medical issues for nearly seven years now, I have become somewhat accustomed to dealing with various doctors in various specialties with varying attitudes, beliefs and opinions. Some have great bedside manner and truly take the time to listen, while others lack bedside manner but are still able to treat patients successfully. The doctor-patient relationship is a fragile one to begin with and a misstep on the physician’s behalf can be disastrous.
I walked into your office with hope in my heart and a positive mindset. You were a neurologist at a large and well-known hospital that I had positive experiences with in the past. You had good “reviews,” a top-tier education and extensive training. It sounded promising, I thought. Perhaps it was ignorant of me to have been hopeful. Maybe I should have kept my expectations low. Maybe I should have realized long ago that my medical care would eventually be affected by the fact that I am female.
During my hour-long appointment, you backed me into a corner with a multitude of sexist and misogynistic statements.
“I refer many of my female patients out to psychiatrists.”
“I’m always concerned when it’s a young woman that it’s a psychological issue.”
“It’s often in women’s heads, it’s not real.”
I left that appointment upset, confused and certainly frustrated. Not only had I not received any help, but I wasn’t heard. Due to the fact that we could pinpoint the cause of my dystonia, I was “validated” instead of being dismissed to a psych; I recognize I was one of the “lucky” ones.
I’m deeply saddened by the thought of how many other young women have had the unfortunate experience of sitting in your office and listening to your tirade. I’m angered by the fact that not once did you correct yourself, but you instead took pride in your blatant sexism. I’m enraged by the fact that this is an all too common occurrence for women across the nation.
Being a female does not make me, nor any other woman, any less deserving of compassionate medical care. We are humans too, and we also are trying to heal with the “help” of a medical system that is quick to dismiss us.
Doctor, you betrayed your oath to “do no harm” on that dreary September day. While I have forgiven, and all will eventually be forgotten, I hope one day you will change your ways. I hope one day you will make an effort to implement real change and realize the harmful impact your words can have. Until that day comes, I’ll continue to advocate for the next woman who will enter your office.