Three hours ago, I was sitting in a doctor’s office in Glendale, CA waiting to see a doctor who supposedly performed vaginal botox for pelvic pain discomfort. I have been wanting to have this procedure done for MONTHS because it can prove to be very effective for many women with my conditions. However, I can’t seem to find anyone in one of the largest cities in the US who performs it and actually takes insurance. The procedure can be thousands of dollars without insurance, and that’s assuming my insurance would even cover it considering that most insurance companies don’t think vagina pain is a real issue.
ANYWAY, my appointment was at 2:15, but the doctor didn’t see me until 3. I waited in the room, starting to sweat, thinking about all the ways this appointment could go. Would he believe me? Would he take my pain seriously? Would he know what to do? Would he suggest surgery, or worse, some form of hormone therapy with a million side effects? Would he try to do a vaginal ultrasound? Would I have to suffer in pain the rest of the day because of it? I was anxious to say the least. But who wouldn’t be?
When the doctor finally came in, he asked me why I was there to see him. I explained that I had a myriad of issues and wanted to try vaginal botox, and had been informed that he could do that. He looked confused, which should have been my first warning, and insisted that we do an exam. Although I didn’t want to for obvious reasons, I agreed because it makes sense that he would need to see what’s going on in order to do botox. He began to feel around and kept telling me to calm down. I explained to him that I was calm, but that my body clenched up during exams because it was such a horrible experience for me usually. I mean, DUH. How about you suffer from pain in your penis for 5+ years then have someone poke around on it and be chill about it? Moving on.
After a few seconds of touching me with a Q-tip and me telling him that it hurt, he informed me that I don’t have vulvodynia. I told him that I DID, and have since been relieved of most of the symptoms because of a lot of physical therapy and at home work. He said, I’m a doctor and I am telling you that you don’t have it. Ok, dude. Sure. He continued to poke around with me saying “OW” every 3 seconds and him saying “See? No pain” as if I was a mute.
I could go on, but honestly even thinking about that fucking appointment fills me with rage. I spent hours of my life today waiting to see some asshole who accused me of being a liar and told me that my pain wasn’t real. Seven minutes into the appointment, I was crying profusely. I was so frustrated. I felt dumb. I felt hopeless. I was in pain. I wanted to leave but I was half naked on an exam table with some guy and his stupid hand mirror forcing me to look at my vagina and telling me that the only thing I need is a surgery to “remove part of my vagina” like it’s fucking 1997 and we don’t have access to better information by now. He looked at me crying and decided that it was because “I’m only 25 and still pretty young” and not because “I have chronic pain and my doctor is an asshole.” And then he left.
I suppose I should expect this from doctors by now. I can count on one hand the number of doctors who have taken my pain seriously and actually given a damn. I can’t even count all the ones who haven’t. There’s too many.
I am so tired of going to gynecologists. I am so tired of this game. I am tired of telling a professional that I am in pain and being told that I’m actually not. I am tired of searching for new doctors. I am tired of searching for new treatment options. I am so freaking tired.
Why won’t they believe me? Why won’t they believe us? (Rhetorical question, it’s mostly because we’re women. classic.)
I know my story isn’t rare. In fact, it’s the norm. But damn it, it shouldn’t be. My pain is real. Our pain is real. And if a doctor doesn’t see that, fuck them.
I don’t really have any words of wisdom today, I just have anger. I have anger for every time I have begged a doctor for help and been shown a lack of sympathy and denial. I have anger for every time a woman has gone to the doctor with endometriosis or vaginal pain of some sort and been told that she is imagining it. I have anger at every single male OR female doctor who has ever looked at a woman suffering and in pain and called her EMOTIONAL or STRESSED. I have anger for every woman who has to live with this pain every single day with little to no help because our system has failed us. And I have anger because I’ve been seeing doctors like this for six years now and it seems like nothing has changed.
I wish I didn’t have to read stories like this, or even write about my own. I wish things were different. But as they say… what you allow is what continues. I will never allow a doctor to talk down to me and I will no longer accept a doctor telling me that my pain isn’t real. I will put my damn pants on, and walk out of the room. I hope you do the same.
There are a lot of things that suck about living with endometriosis, etc. But seeing a doctor shouldn’t have to be one of them.
If you’ve gone through something like this, I hope you know you aren’t alone. But I also hope you believe that someday this will change. I believe that someday every woman in the world will be able to find a doctor, tell them their symptoms, and be taken seriously. But until that day, if you meet a doctor who doesn’t take you seriously, leave. Walk out the door. And never look back.
p.s. thinking about starting a coven to curse all doctors who doubt women, lmk if you want in
p.s.s. i’m not kidding
p.s.s.s. ok, kind of kidding
**(Sorry for using so many curse words today mom & dad, I’M UPSET)