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  • Gender In The Doctor’s Office…

    Posted by bailey-anne-vincent on March 1, 2021 at 10:29 am

    I am stressed out talking to doctors.

    Really, I feel stressed talking to anyone where I feel strongly about something (for example, a symptom that I want addressed and not ignored), but know I can’t be passive. And it’s more than just medical. This week, for instance, I have a Facetime-meeting for work which is worrying me (sweats all night long type of worry), even though “on paper” I probably shouldn’t be. Why am I like this?

    I hate conflict. I hate aggression. I hate being disliked. I hate… hate.

    I know there are many reasons behind this, one of which is definitely being a woman. Even if we say that gender is a construct and race/culture/sex are all in the mind, etc (or whatever else someone might say)… It’s not when you get in a room with the wrong person. Being a woman can mean having your symptoms, opinions and stand swept to the side more readily (depending on the doctor) than others… and that’s hard. It adds up, and makes me worry that my complaints will come off as “hysteria” or “drama” or something akin.

    My first question is: Do you get nervous talking to healthcare professionals or asserting yourself in an appointment?

    The second is: How do you think your gender as a patient has influenced this answer?

    paul-met-debbie replied 2 years, 11 months ago 6 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • w-hoh

    March 2, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    Sounds a lot like obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD can be a serious condition and is a very common anxiety disorder in chronically ill.

    Talk to someone you trust about it and get a referral for an evaluation.

    I can tell you from my own experience, you can totally change your life. I used to stay up all night worried about presentations or meetings I shouldn’t worry about also. It is treatable and you’ll be much happier, assuming it is a form of OCD. (And not everyone with OCD is a German phobic handwasher. That’s only one of many types.)

  • w-hoh

    March 2, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Sounds a lot like obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD can be a serious condition and is a very common anxiety disorder in chronically ill.

    Talk to someone you trust about it and get a referral for an evaluation.

    I can tell you from my own experience, you can totally change your life. I used to stay up all night worried about presentations or meetings I shouldn’t worry about also. It is treatable and you’ll be much happier, assuming it is a form of OCD. (And not everyone with OCD is a Germophobic handwasher. That’s only one of many types.)

  • jenny-livingston

    March 2, 2021 at 4:15 pm

    Oh, Bailey! This is something I could write about endlessly! In one of my college classes, we spent the better half of a semester examining gender disparities in healthcare. A few examples:

    One study found that while older women in the United States had more need for medical care, they were less likely to be admitted to the hospital, were seen by physicians fewer times than men, and were less likely to receive proper medications. (Perhaps their concerns weren’t taken as seriously?)

    On average, it takes women 4-7 years to be diagnosed with endometriosis. Women’s pain is oftentimes dismissed or written of as normal. If you talk to women with endometriosis, they will tell you their excruciating pain is anything but normal. Even still, it takes years and usually several doctors to finally nail down a diagnosis.

    Another study that specifically looked at the prevalence of sexism against women amongst primary healthcare workers found that health professionals display significant gender stereotyping, hostile sexism, and benevolent sexism against women. “This finding could have a negative influence on the service-user relationship, leading to greater inequities in health as a result of gender inequality.”

    These are obviously just a few examples, but sexism in healthcare is well documented. (Sex and gender disparities have been extensively studied in cardiovascular care.) The entire medical practice paradigm was built by and for men. As much as we like to say that gender is a social construct, the effects of it can be very real and very damaging.

    Kind of funny: there was once a time when medical professionals thought that hysteria was caused by a wandering womb. “The uterus was believed to wander around the body like an animal, hungry for semen. If it wandered the wrong direction and made its way to the throat there would be choking, coughing or loss of voice, if it got stuck in the the rib cage, there would be chest pain or shortness of breath, and so on. Most any symptom that belonged to a female body could be attributed to that wandering uterus.”

    Do you ever get the feeling that we haven’t progressed much past this? Hah!

    In all seriousness, your concerns are valid, especially when they’re the result of past personal experiences. I can’t recall a time my concerns were dismissed or my pain minimized (by male or female care providers). I’ve experienced benevolent sexism in the form on condescention or being called “sweetheart” (yup, by a doctor!) but thus far, my health hasn’t been impacted by it. I truly believe I’ve been fortunate in this regard.

    – – – – – – – –

    I’ve included a few references if you want to check out any of the articles I talked about.

    Cameron, K. A., Song, J., Manheim, L. M., & Dunlop, D. D. (2010). Gender disparities in health and healthcare use among older adults. Journal of women’s health, 19(9), 1643-1650.

    Mesquita Filho, M., Marques, T. F., Rocha, A. B. C., Oliveira, S. R. D., Brito, M. B., & Pereira, C. C. Q. (2018). Sexism against women among primary healthcare workers. Ciencia & saude coletiva, 23, 3491-3504.

  • judy-moreland

    March 3, 2021 at 3:04 am

    This is a reply to “Do you get nervous talking to healthcare professionals or asserting yourself in an appointment?” My answer is no, not anymore.

    I survived 3 years as a nursing student in the late 1960s. Back then, the doctors, usually men, were godlike and many of the nurses submissive. At least we nursing students were submissive. We felt we had to be.

    It lasted a long time for me. When I was 42, I was diagnosed with CF. The pulmonologist I was seeing at the time, perhaps skilled in pulmonolgy but certainly not in relationships, asked me “Did you talk yourself into this disease?” as he looked at my chart. My PFT numbers were excellent at that time.

    My husband and I were so stunned that we were speechless. I can assure you that we would not be today. I left that practice after 2 years and wrote a letter to that doctor expressing my disgust with his remark when I left.

    About 9 years later, I had a second sinus surgery that didn’t go well. My CF doctor at the time thought my lung function was strong enough for general anesthesia. It wasn’t. At my first appointment after the surgery when I expressed my disappointment at how sick I was after the surgery, he said, “Well, that happens sometimes.” Again, I was speechless. However, the next time we met, I told him in no uncertain terms that I didn’t like his comment and hoped to never hear comments like that again. He apologized, and after that, we got along very well. He has since left the practice, which I feel very bad about, as he was my CF doctor for 21 years and helped me tremendously. He was interested not only in my pulmonary health but also mental health. I miss him.

  • tim-blowfield

    March 3, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    Nothing surprises me here – so many angles! Gender certainly is a big issue – there are still far too many Med Practitioners who talk down to their patients esp if female and do not listen. Too many assumptions are made usually based on what the textbook says – or less.
    Patients MUST develop a healthy relationship with those charged with their care where they are able to discus any issues concerning them whether or not the Dr thinks the issue is important or not. Being forthright and assertive is key to good treatment but must be done carefully, kindly and thoughtfully to get the best. Aggressiveness does not work.
    Certainly calling out someone because they have acted or said something inappropriate based on stereotypes is something we all need to be able to do. How to do it best we need to learn. Healthy relationships must be developed and developed regardless of gender.

  • paul-met-debbie

    March 4, 2021 at 6:59 am

    Answering your first question: No, I am over that. I don’t experience is as asserting myself to a healthcare professional even. It’s just a conversation where one person (me) is interested in the opinion and advise of another (the doctor). I don’t consider the doctor to be more professional than I am, or even more knowledgable. His or hers knowledge lies in a different area (more mental and based on routine) than mine (more intuitive and based on my own experience), that’s all. Together they complement well, if they understand eachother and are willling to listen.
    And the second question: I don’t know, because I have no way to compare, having only one gender (I think).

    About the other thing you wanted to know: “Why am I like this?” Well, despite you asserting that all of this is not in the mind: I think it is. It is also typical of the mind to deny its own influence, because it doesn’t like to be caught in the crime. So I guess you are like that, because you experience reality not as it is, but through the windmills of your mind. That’s where most of the worries come from. Meaning: you make it real and then it is. And you suffer from it. Most people are like that.
    We are never upset for the reason we think we are. So equally, when you say it’s not in the mind when you are entering a room with a wrong person, it is the mind speaking and it is wrong. Unless with “a wrong person” you mean yourself (meaning: a conditioned person not fully aware of this conditioning).

    When I say “it’s in the mind”, I don’t mean to say it is only imagination, or illusion, or theoretical conditioning. If it only were so easy to escape the mind’s hold on us. Everything that is in the mind is directly manifested in our experience of reality as soon as we believe in it. We think it real. It’s like magic. Often bad magic, but still. So when we approach the world from a conditioned mind that tells us the story that being of a certain gender gives rise to inescapable problems, that is what will manifest for us. Or the story of a helpless and dependent patient and a mighty doctor. These are all presumptions of the mind that are distorting your experience of reality and they are not helpful. They will bring forth, as a self fulfilling prophecy, any expectation that you have connected to the story in your conditioned mind.

    So, next time you enter the office of your doctor (or the facetime meeting), forget about all the conditioning. Empty your mind. If you don’t know how, learn it. It will be the most important and lifechanging perspective that you will ever encounter. Leave all the minds baggage at the threshold. (Don’t worry, it will be waiting for you there and no one else will want it). There should not be a woman patient entering the room of a “wrong” male doctor, fearing that (again) she will be badly understood, not well heard and swept aside. See through all of this self-imposed paralysis. Entering the room will be the fearless and open minded human being Bailey, who is not bringing along her gender, insecurities, frustrations or expectations. This Bailey is not worried about being nice or attractive, feels secure and self confident, expects to get a well paid decent advice from the person in the white coat who is in every aspect equal as a human being. And if this white coat is behaving badly in any way, she takes charge of the situation and makes sure that she either leaves the room satisfied, or finds a better doctor who would not dare treat her like trash.

    Ultimately, seen through and fully understood, this a not about gender, victimization, or any other story of the mind. Don’t get caught in that self-belittling narrative, your mind will feel satisfied with that role because it will take any emotion to feed on, even victimhood or hate. And you will be stuck with that poor role-play until you decide it’s not good enough and not true. It’s all up to you, it takes two to tango and if you refuse to dance along the lines of personal or social stereotypes, the dance is over and you can enter reality as it really is. From then on, you will start attracting better people in your life because you know you deserve it and. You are so much more than the sumtotal of your thoughts and feelings, and it will show.

    It’s not easy to conquer the mind, but it is really that simple. Don’t make it difficult. Start with this: “I think so, so it’s probably not true”. It’s really fun and freeing. I call it Emindcipation. It is for everyone. And men and women need it equally bad.

    This post may seem partly familiar to some. This is because I posted it twice before, but it disappeared from the forum after a short while. It also disappeared from my list of contributions, and having no complete back up made the first time I had to reconstruct it from memory and from a partial backup I had.

  • w-hoh

    March 4, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    I’m a male physician who has a 12-year-old with cystic fibrosis.

    Keep in mind that males who go into pediatric pulmonology are not forced to do so. They recognize that cystic fibrosis will be a large part of their practice and knowing that CF is much more common in females for an unknown reason.

    In other words, they’re choosing a specialty where the patients are predominately female. If they truly were sexist, they would not choose this specially.

    Now adult pulmonology is quite a bit different. In the past, adults were seen in the pediatric CF clinic because they weren’t that many adults with CF due to the devastating nature of the disease. Now, in large part due to automated chest therapy, Pulmozyme, and other medications including the Vertex meds… there will be CF patients living very long lives. so you have adult pulmonologist to now have CF clinics filled with females.

    I spent a good part of my career in the U.S. Army, which was predominately male. Tell Mike to think I never was sexist towards females, as I treat everyone with respect.

    Just my observations. And of course there are exceptions to every rule.

    I have never been intimidated in terms of asking our son’s pulmonologist a question about his care. But I also recognize I’m not the typical parent who may be intimidated by “the doctor”. We been fortunate at the University of Pittsburgh CF clinic. great docs and nurses across-the-board.

  • paul-met-debbie

    March 6, 2021 at 8:02 am

    CF is equally common in males and females.

    Only female patients are more prone to suffer earlier in life from some of the effects of CF than males, specifically from more severe lung problems and cf related diabetes.

    It is still not entirely clear where these differences originate, it might be hormone-related.
    Even the new medication that improves the cftr ion channel, seems not to equalize this difference so far.

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