I went to the ER when I started having symptoms of appendicitis. I was 36 at the time, in full possession of all my faculties, well-spoken, educated, and not in enough pain to derail my composure. I explained to the ER staff that I believed my appendix to be the problem, they took my vitals, blood, and urine and put me on a stretcher-bed in a shared triage room with a bunch of other patients and their companions. This room was way off the beaten path and no nurses or other staff were nearby. The other patients were mostly sleeping since it was very late at night.
After two hours passed, I walked/shuffled over to the nurses station and asked if I would be seen soon. They didn't seem pressed to make it happen, but about 45 minutes later a female PA came in and interviewed me...about my menstrual cycle and only about my menstrual cycle. I advised her that I have had my cycle since I was 9, am no stranger to cramps, or cysts, or other strange uterine happenings...and this was not my uterus or any other part of my reproductive system. I asked that I be scanned for appendicitis. She patted my hand and said I would be seen in the order of priority since the ER was so busy and to hang in there.
Four more hours passed. I mostly crawled from the stretcher to the nurses station this time. They miraculously found my MRI orders then. They said it'd be 45 minutes until the MRI, then another hour or so until it'd be read. I had to insist that I get the MRI more quickly and that it felt like my body was in real trouble. They had me in the machine 10 minutes later and then put me in a real ER room. The same PA came into my room a mere 10 minutes after that.
Her exact words were, "Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you sure do know your body and the bad news is we're keeping you. Your appendix needs to come out right now".
I replied that neither one of those things qualified to me as 'news' and that I was very disappointed that it took so much self-advocacy to receive a diagnosis. She apologized and I was put on the surgery list.
I was bumped twice on the surgery list. Both times I was bumped for a man, I hope and assume their conditions truly warranted being moved ahead in line, but who knows.
I finally had my surgery, but I spent 7 hours having to convince medical staff to even examine my appendix...all because I have female reproductive organs that they could blame instead.
I wonder how much faster that rotten appendix would've been taken out if I had a penis and testicles instead.
I always thought it was an ongoing joke...
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