Listen to Your Body

For years, I had been suffering odd pains in my lower right abdomen and painful periods. I thought that this was normal, since many women in my family suffered similarly. However, life threw me a huge curve ball.

It all began in August 2017, when I had my first laparoscopic surgery for suspected endometriosis. It was confirmed that I had endometriosis during this procedure. I felt OK for a few months after recovering.

Then, in November, I started having severe pains in my abdomen. I felt nauseous all the time and cycled between diarrhea and constipation, and my energy levels were depleted. I was missing class frequently, and I was mostly staying home with a heating pad.

I went to the hospital a few times because of this. The first time I was told it could be my appendix, but the CT scans were normal, so I was sent home. The second time I was told I just had the stomach flu. The third time I went, they were about to send me away with pain medication because everything appeared to be normal despite the symptoms and pain I was in. I refused to be sent home, so I stayed overnight for observation.

The doctor I saw the next day told me nothing was wrong with me and that she didn’t treat patients who have nothing physiologically wrong with them. At that point, I was fed up. My mom (who was with me during every hospital trip) was fed up as well, and asked if there was anything she could do for the pain. The doctor then accused me of being there for narcotics because I was prescribed some in August from my surgery. I really got upset with this accusation, which the doctor could see as I left the room.

When she left, I turned to my mom and said, “What am I supposed to do, just kill myself?” Boy, was that the wrong thing to say in a hospital! The nurse got wind of this, and I was then monitored for psychiatric reasons and had an evaluation. I was then transferred to the psych area to be watched.
A lady came in and said that they were going to involuntarily commit me to a psych ward. I was very upset, but I kept my cool and explained the situation to her. I told her how I was in pain and no one was taking me seriously, and that I was not a danger to myself or others. She then told me this type of thing happens a lot to people who do not need to be sent to a facility, and that she would speak with the doctors and try to get me out of there.

In the meantime, I called my OB/GYN, who performed my first surgery to see if there was anything she could do, since I had no one else who knew of my situation. Thankfully, she did surgeries at the hospital I was held at, and she came in and evaluated me. She ordered a HIDA scan for the next day, which showed I had cholecystitis. Not wanting to stay at this hospital, I asked to be discharged and had my gallbladder removed at a different hospital.

I thought all was well after this, but it wasn’t. My pains returned, if not worse than before. The thought of it possibly being my appendix kept nagging at me. So I did my own research and concluded that, based on my symptoms, I had appendicitis. The first doctor I saw at the hospital told me that “female abdominal pain is hard to diagnose” and that they “usually can’t figure out what is wrong.” He then came back after they got results from my blood test and told me that I had some sort of infection, but they couldn’t pinpoint it.

I brought up the idea that it could be my appendix. Of course, the doctors did not think so, since my appendix appeared normal in CT scans—but I was told that after being given antibiotics, it shrunk in size. I was in the hospital for about four days now, and I demanded to see a surgeon. Even though the doctor at the hospital wasn’t fond of the idea, a surgeon saw me the next day. I explained my situation and told him that I wanted my appendix out. He agreed, even though he didn’t think that’s what was causing my pain. Two weeks after my appendectomy, I got the pathology results. It stated that I did, in fact, have appendicitis.

I wanted to share this because women are not always taken seriously when they are in pain. I hope this story gives someone the courage to get the help they need.

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About the Author | J. Z.

J.Z, is a determined woman who wants to help empower other women. She is always there for her friends and family if they need someone to lean on. J.Z. is a college student who will be earning a B.S. in Biochemistry in December, 2019. She enjoys daily walks with her dog Luna in the Arizona heat.

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2 comments to "Listen to Your Body"

  • Mary

    What a great article! This gives hope and courage to us suffering women who are not taken seriously! Thank you for speaking up!

  • Rose

    Thanks for sharing your experience with others. I wish there would’ve been a format like this when I was younger and going through similar things. You’re very strong and brave!