I really believe that women tend to go to a certain state of mind when they're patients and relying on a doctor's care. It's called "helpless patient mode." Ironically, when we have a sick child, spouse or other loved one, we can be a doctor's biggest nightmare. We're brilliant and strong when advocating for a loved one. A mother will do an inordinate amount of research and will carefully question the pediatrician when her child is ill. But when she is ill, it’s another story altogether. Women tend to do what their doctors tell them to do. We don't listen to ourselves, to our guts. We simply want that doctor to fix us, give us that magic pill, and quick, so we can go about doing all the millions of things we do to take care of other people.
I admit that I'm totally guilty of this. Big-time. In fact, my hysterectomy may not have even happened if I hadn't succombed to the all-too-easy "helpless patient mode." I may have chosen another option if I'd been aware of the other options and hadn't relied so completely on what I was told was my only option.
Before my hysterectomy, I developed horrible reflux. I always had a sick feeling in my stomach and was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I followed my doctor's advice and took medicine for the reflux and other medication for the IBS. By taking the pills as prescribed, I took it for granted that it was just a matter of time and I would get better.
Time passed and I went on with my life, ignoring the fact that I was not getting any better. I learned to compensate for my bowel issues and kept up the façade required in my day-to-day routine; philanthropy work, traveling and attending functions. But nothing would make the reflux and IBS go away. In fact I got worse – much worse -- and landed in the hospital with Diverticulitis. The pain was excruciating. I thought I was going to die. I was hospitalized for five days, with two strong antibiotics, Flagyl and Cipro, pumping into my system. On the second day, I was completely numb from the waist down. I was terrified, with no idea what was wrong with me. No one had warned me that numbness in the legs is a side effect of Flagyl.
Back then, I was obviously in the "helpless patient mode." But then again, I was so sick that I couldn't exactly advocate for myself. Instead I went along with my doctor's advice to have a complete hysterectomy, which apparently would solve my endometriosis issue and all the other issues I was having. It was supposed to be the answer -- that quick cure, "magic pill" that I so desperately wanted in order to get my life back. What I've learned since is that there is no magic pill and that you should always get a second opinion. No matter how sick you are, you need to advocate for yourself or have somebody else step in to advocate for you.
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