How my experience with Hashimoto’s made me realize women are in pain due to the health care system
As a white, cisgender woman with 5 auto-immune diseases, I know the privilege that comes with having doctors, health-insurance, and a strong support system to help with management of my numerous ailments. It was not until this past month that I ever questioned the health care system and those within it.
I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease: a thyroid disease that causes my own body to mistakenly attack my thyroid gland. Presenting the classic symptoms (weight gain, cold temperature all the time, hair loss, and irregular periods), my doctor decided to test my thyroid functions. Of course, they presented abnormal T3 and T4 (the hormone produced by the thyroid gland) levels, which, honestly, was a long time coming and I am surprised this didn’t happen sooner. I am also type 1 diabetic, and most type 1 diabetics usually end up with further endocrine problems like a thyroid disease. I was placed on Levothyroxine and told to monitor my symptoms, so that is exactly what I did.
A month into my treatment, I started to gain more weight, had breakouts, and felt extreme brain fog all the time. Presenting these continuous symptoms to my doctor, she suggested I get tested again. With an adjustment of my medication amount, I was again sent on my way. However, over 5 months while being on this medication, I managed to gain 40 pounds, felt terrible all the time, and was becoming worried despite my doctor mentioning the medicine would help my thyroid symptoms. Well, they didn’t and I felt WORSE!
You know how they say always trust your gut? I did and I took myself off my medicine (see note at bottom of page). Within a week I dropped 10 pounds, my skin started to clear up and I felt the brain fog disappear. I decided to let my doctor know and she told me I needed to go back on medicine. I suggested trying another brand (the brand name medicine not the off-brand I was previously on). After doing research, I found that different people have different side effects on different medications, so I told her these facts and figures. She told me that is not how it works, and the medical books have no indication of these kinds of side effects I was experiencing on Levothyroxine. I WAS FRUSTRATED! I figured she is a doctor and knows best but since taking my Feminist Blogging class it has me questioning…is it because I am a women that I felt and still feel neglected by my endocrinologist?
So, I took out my laptop and did what we all do, I Googled it.
Doing more research, I found on kff.org and in the article, “Women’s Health Care Utilization and Costs: Findings from the 2020 KFF Women’s Health Survey” women and females feel their concerns are dismissed and that they feel that they are not taken seriously.
In an article on the site, heartandstroke.ca, they found “women’s heart health is misdiagnosed, under-researched, under-treated, under-supported, and under-aware.” This has resulted in more deaths in relation to women and their heart health.
The guardian.com article, “’It took years to get diagnosed’: the women who were not listened to”’ depicts countless stories about women who were not listened to, were misdiagnosed, and were thus in pain.
A simple Google search brought up thousands and thousands of stories, news articles, and lawsuits against doctors who do not believe their women and female patients, are uninformed about certain diseases subjective to females, and thus has caused pain for females across the world.
The healthcare system has neglected the fact that women need help, need someone to hear them, listen to them, support them, and provide effective treatment for their pain. There is a gap in women’s health care, health insurance, and health knowledge. It only takes one incident to come to this realization that women and females are not EQUAL in the health system. For me it was not being listened to by my doctor to realize that this health care system advertised as being equal for everyone in America- is clearly not equal for females and women.
This is in no way me telling you to stop taking your medicine. Talk to your doctor before you make changes.