Today's Story comes from Brooke Benson.
My mom passed away in 1997 when I was 13 years old. It was very unexpected and traumatic on me, as I had been an only child and very close to my mom. She had devoted her life to parenting & raising me after she divorced my dad when I was 2 years old. It was always her & I against the world after that point and she was my closest friend as well as being an amazing mother.
Before her death, around the time I was about 11 or so, she developed a medical issue. I only understand it to the level I do based on her writings in her diaries, which I have & kept since her passing. She did an amazing job hiding from me her levels of pain and her struggle with the condition she developed. In her journal she wrote that she didn't want to worry me.
Her journal chronicles a troubling story of her attempts to find out what was wrong with her and being told time & time again that there wasn't anything wrong that could explain her symptoms. She had developed a 'tic' in one eye, which in her journal she describes as being almost psychotic-inducing because the pain & frustration was so irritating, as she felt like something was in her eye, but couldn't find it or get it out.
She also developed chronic pain down one side of her body at this time, which was also apparently excruciating, like having her nerves on fire along that side of her body. In her journal she wrote of being dismissed by doctors & even members of our own family she tried discussing it with, because she had numerous scans (MRI, CAT, etc.) done & doctors said they couldn't find anything that would be causing the problem.
Ultimately she describes in her writing of being told by people that perhaps it was a psychosomatic issue, & "all in her head" to the point where she began to question herself if she was just losing her mind. Clearly she had truly been feeling & experiencing it however, as she wouldn't have been writing journal entries about it, which she'd intended only for her own eyes, if she hadn't truly been experiencing it.
And from her writings, it sounded truly HORRIFIC (I will add those journals & that knowledge of her pain was one of the few things that gave me comfort in her passing, since I knew at least she was free from that terrible pain she ultimately suffered for years prior to her passing).
She ultimately got put on disability & had to stay home those last couple years of her life, because her illness caused her too much pain to hold her full time job as a secretary she'd had for so many years prior to that. The additionally odd aspect of the whole illness was that even in the autopsy following her passing, a conclusive cause of death was never determined. The most they were able to determine was that it happened very quickly (& I hope painlessly) & she was dead before her body hit the floor.
Sounds almost consistent with a brain aneurysm & the issues down just one side of her body prior to that sound consistent of a stroke, however neither of those things were ever discovered to have been an official cause, since apparently the various tests & scans performed during those years she suffered didn't indicate stroke.
Anyway, I just felt her story was interesting to share, as it's a situation where a woman ultimately DIED of something apparently quite serious, which doctors (& other individuals) greatly dismissed to the point where my mother stopped trying to discover what was wrong after being told so many times there was nothing wrong. Obviously she didn't die prior to her 40th birthday of NOTHING, however! Between her story, my own, & the fact that so many other women have stories of being dismissed by doctors when we legitimately are suffering from problems, I have to agree this has been a problem in the medical field apparently since forever, & sadly still continues be, even by OTHER females, as a good portion of my doctors, counselors, & psychiatrists I've seen over the years have been female themselves, & still very dismissive of me. Occasionally I've even chosen a male doctor in hopes of having my concerns heard, since I've experienced so much dismissal through the years.