Hey y’all! I don’t know who needs to hear this but…. GO TO THE DOCTOR! Don’t just go when you feel like something is wrong go when you feel perfectly fine too! As you all may know, I am a Public Health Professional by day so I take preventive healthcare very serious and personal. I was not always like this and have came across a few bad apples that made me lose a little faith in the healthcare system but as of late, I’ve been feeling empowered to disrupt the broken healthcare system so I felt intrigued to post.
To start, let’s face it y’all historically, black people don’t have trust in the healthcare system due to how we’ve been and continue to be treated. From slaves getting diagnosed with the runaway slave syndrome to healthy blacks people getting injected with Syphilis in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, we really haven’t had a lot of reason to trust the healthcare system. Although I get it, I also get the alarming health disparities that the African American community is facing. It’s undeniable that black people are dying at a way higher rate than basically every other race and this needs to stop!
I feel like the first step is remaining empowered while going to the doctor. In efforts to shine light on that, I want to share my experience so everyone can learn from my mistakes. So, I have a PCP provider that does not identify as the same race as me. I searched hard for a black PCP but with my insurance I was limited and all the black PCP’s were not accepting new patients. Due to this, I figured why not? I hadn’t had a physical in a while so I took a chance.
On the day of my appointment I was already nervous but the nurse really made me feel at ease. It wasn’t until the doctor came in I started to feel more and more uncomfortable. As an educated black women, I still felt silenced and judged in my visit. It started when she asked about how many drinks do I have a week. Ok y’all, I love me a good glass of wine and at that point I was having one daily so my answer was 7. My PCP literally widened her eyes in disbelief and said, “that’s not good!” Y’all, no clarifying questions, no asking me why, no nothing just an immediate judgement. Still, I didn’t see anything wrong with it I just figured hey maybe that wasn’t good and I need to change my habits.
I then wanted to address some anxiety I had been having because I was currently in a very stressful role job wise and my anxiety was through the roof! After feeling judged for telling the truth about my drink intake I decided to play it safe and not tell her all the details about my anxiety. So when she proded, I only shared details I thought wouldn’t cause a reaction from her. In the end, she eventually told me, “do yoga and journal and you should be fine!” I listened to her and thought ok, maybe she didn’t know the severity of the issue because I didn’t tell her but I don’t think yoga and journaling was the answer for my anxiety.
After the visit, something just didn’t set well with me. I didn’t know what it was because I figured you know what, this just may be normal. That next week though, I had an appointment with my black OBGYN and boy did I see the difference. The way she asked me questions, the way she seemed genuinely concerned, the way she advocated for me, and even the way she created an environment that was a safe space for me to be completely open with her! That was when I knew something wasn’t right with my PCP!
My story, and others stories are very similar! When navigating the healthcare system it can be hard! I don’t know how we developed a mindset that makes us feel as though doctors are better than us in that little white coat they have but sis I’m the first to sit here and say, they bleed the same way you bleed! If something doesn’t feel right, unapologetically say it! If you don’t like the way your doctor spoke to you.. report them! Patient experience is a thing and hospitals can lose money on bad feedback.
I feel it is extremely important to know your body and be confident in your expertise. Trust yourself and don’t let doctors dim your light. Although the system was not made for us, it’s time to cause disruption in this broken healthcare system! Disruption can be advocating for yourself, asking clarifying questions, coming to appointments with questions, filling out that patient experience form, and most importantly not letting anyone make you feel as though you’re not the expert of YOUR body! We got this sis!
“Your zip code shouldn’t determine how long you live, but it does.” – Unknown