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WhiskeyGrinder

(22,820 posts)
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 11:11 AM Feb 2019

I Was Pregnant and in Crisis. All the Doctors and Nurses Saw Was an Incompetent Black Woman

When black people see the med-school photo of Northam, this is what they know.

http://time.com/5494404/tressie-mcmillan-cottom-thick-pregnancy-competent/

Until I started bleeding. That day I sat in the waiting room for thirty minutes, after calling ahead and reporting my condition when I arrived. After I had bled through the nice chair in the waiting room, I told my husband to ask them again if perhaps I could be moved to a more private area. The nurse looked alarmed, about the chair, and eventually ushered me back. When the doctor arrived, he explained that I was probably just too fat and that spotting was normal and he sent me home. Later that night my ass started hurting. Just behind the butt muscle and off a bit to the side. I walked. I stretched. I took a hot bath. I called my mother, The Vivian. Finally, I called the nurse. She asked me if my back hurt. I said no. It was my butt that hurt. The nurse said it was probably constipation. I should try to go to the bathroom. I tried that for all the next day and part of another. By the end of three days, my butt still hurt and I had not slept more than fifteen minutes straight in almost seventy hours.

I went to the hospital. They asked again about my back, implied I had eaten something “bad” for me and begrudgingly, finally decided to do an ultrasound. The image showed three babies, only I was pregnant with one. The other two were tumors, larger than the baby. The doctor turned to me and said, “If you make it through the night without going into preterm labor, I’d be surprised.” With that, he walked out and I was checked into the maternity ward. Eventually a night nurse mentioned that I had been in labor for three days. “You should have said something,” she scolded me.

After several days of labor pains that no one ever diagnosed, because the pain was in my butt and not my back, I could not hold off labor anymore. I was wheeled into a delivery operating room, where I slipped in and out of consciousness. At one point I awoke and screamed, “Motherfucker.” The nurse told me to watch my language. I begged for an epidural. After three eternities an anesthesiologist arrived. He glared at me and said that if I wasn’t quiet he would leave and I would not get any pain relief. Just as a contraction crested, the needle pierced my spine and I tried desperately to be still and quiet so he would not leave me there that way. Thirty seconds after the injection, I passed out before my head hit the pillow.

When I awoke I was pushing and then my daughter was here. She died shortly after her first breath. The nurse wheeled me out of the operating room to take me back to recovery. I held my baby the whole way, because apparently that is what is done. After making plans for how we would handle her remains, the nurse turned to me and said, “Just so you know, there was nothing we could have done, because you did not tell us you were in labor.”


The healthcare system fails black people, and black women in particular and black mothers the most. Controlling for all factors still finds that the reason is racism. The yearbook photo is a part of that. Northam was a part of ensuring it stayed institutionalized within the system.
19 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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I Was Pregnant and in Crisis. All the Doctors and Nurses Saw Was an Incompetent Black Woman (Original Post) WhiskeyGrinder Feb 2019 OP
Horrifying story Bayard Feb 2019 #1
There was a study at some med school--the white students thought blacks don't feel pain like whites bobbieinok Feb 2019 #2
Medical Apartheid was published not too long ago. Horrific history! bobbieinok Feb 2019 #3
There is no excuse Puppyjive Feb 2019 #4
I didn't write this article; it's by Tressie McMillan Cottom, an assistant professor of sociology at WhiskeyGrinder Feb 2019 #5
Thanks for posting this article. Very sad, very informative, and DU relevent. I too, will ... SWBTATTReg Feb 2019 #14
I heard the Professor speak on last month on WBURs OnPoint irisblue Feb 2019 #17
Sad story, well told. She should have sued them. Shrike47 Feb 2019 #6
The medical establishment is willfully ignorant about a lot of things. WhiskeyGrinder Feb 2019 #8
My reaction, as well. Ms. Toad Feb 2019 #18
Prime example roscoeroscoe Feb 2019 #7
This is what I feared when I saw the picture MaryMagdaline Feb 2019 #9
Yep, women are not believed in general, but black women in particular. SunSeeker Feb 2019 #10
The Healthcare system fails everyone... PeeJ52 Feb 2019 #11
It does indeed. It fails some more often and in ways based only on race. WhiskeyGrinder Feb 2019 #12
Women, in General, Are Not Believed--For Women of Color, It's Even Worse dlk Feb 2019 #13
Terrible story. I am so sorry for the author. hostalover Feb 2019 #15
No wonder so many black women die murielm99 Feb 2019 #16
Holy shit and Motherfucker!! BadGimp Feb 2019 #19

Bayard

(22,848 posts)
1. Horrifying story
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 12:12 PM
Feb 2019

The health care system also fails a lot of poor people. You are treated quite differently when you don't have insurance. First hand callous experience when I was destitute in Calif.

bobbieinok

(12,858 posts)
2. There was a study at some med school--the white students thought blacks don't feel pain like whites
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 12:38 PM
Feb 2019

This was a recent study. I don't remember where the school was.

Puppyjive

(529 posts)
4. There is no excuse
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 12:40 PM
Feb 2019

I am so sorry about your experience. There is no excuse for this behavior. I don't blame you at all for the way you feel. I continue to hope for change in the red states. Developing one's morals begins at birth. It's not just one individual, it is generations of immoral belief systems. My son understands diversity, and how embracing it makes you a better person. Bridging the cultural divide one birth at a time!

WhiskeyGrinder

(22,820 posts)
5. I didn't write this article; it's by Tressie McMillan Cottom, an assistant professor of sociology at
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 01:07 PM
Feb 2019

Virginia Commonwealth University. She has a new book out, "Thick: And Other Essays," which I can't wait to get my hands on.

SWBTATTReg

(22,700 posts)
14. Thanks for posting this article. Very sad, very informative, and DU relevent. I too, will ...
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 01:57 PM
Feb 2019

monitor when the new book comes out too, and see if my public library will eventually get, so I can check out and read. Take care! nt

irisblue

(33,149 posts)
17. I heard the Professor speak on last month on WBURs OnPoint
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 02:05 PM
Feb 2019

It's worth the listen to the podcast I think.


In 'Thick,' Tressie McMillan Cottom Looks At Beauty, Power And Black Womanhood In America
Jan 21, 2019 podcast

Shrike47

(6,913 posts)
6. Sad story, well told. She should have sued them.
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 01:14 PM
Feb 2019

In my experience, being a white woman isn’t that great, either. Medical staff tend to assume you’re an idiot. I remember my gynecologist telling me I wasn’t pregnant and suggesting counseling (this was before home pregnancy tests). Seven and a half months later I had a baby. He didn’t respect my report of how I felt.



WhiskeyGrinder

(22,820 posts)
8. The medical establishment is willfully ignorant about a lot of things.
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 01:15 PM
Feb 2019

Women have it bad. Black women have it statistically worse.

Ms. Toad

(34,658 posts)
18. My reaction, as well.
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 02:21 PM
Feb 2019

I was not pregnant, but otherwise had very similar derrogatory and medically incompetent experiences with fibroids at the hands of not one - but 3 - male physicians as I bled nearly to death over a period of around 4 months while they insisted (1) I had bone cancer and (2) I was imagining that I was bleeding more than a couple of tablespoons of blood a month (it was approximately 1 quart - finding a way to measure it was the first step to getting appropriate medical care).

And just 2 weeks ago, I was scolded for screaming (because there were children present) after I gave the medical staff very explicit instructions as to the need to move my knee and toes simultaneously, which was ignored, followed by my demand that the nurse stop, also ignored, causing me to scream in agony as the jagged edges of the spiral fracture dug into my flesh.

I'm not denying that black women have it worse (any additional layer of "otherness" diminishes the quality of treatment (minority, LGBT, fat). But the treatment above is at least as much gender-based as it is race-based.

MaryMagdaline

(6,905 posts)
9. This is what I feared when I saw the picture
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 01:17 PM
Feb 2019

The face an arrogant, condescending, racist doctor, whose patients would have to look up at that face. The realization of AA that they had voted for that man.

I’ve read story after story of AA women bring denied pain medicine and treated with distain in hospitals. It’s part of the culture of white supremacy.

If the only way black people are going to get respect from whites is the power of the ballot box, then so be it. You live by the AA vote, you die by it. Time for the reckoning for Dr Northam.

 

PeeJ52

(1,588 posts)
11. The Healthcare system fails everyone...
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 01:24 PM
Feb 2019

I went to my primary care doctor with pain in my hip, shooting down through my knee, all the way to my ankle. He prescribes gabapentin and an antidepressant (duloxetine) combination for the pain. I take this for 5 years with very little relief, mostly only when I am sedintary. I finally ask to be referred to an orthopedic surgeon and he says I have the worst case of degenerative hip with arthritis he has ever seen. Get a hip replacement and all is well. Now I come to find out, it's hell to get of these damn drugs. It's more profitable to treat the symptom than the cause.

dlk

(11,846 posts)
13. Women, in General, Are Not Believed--For Women of Color, It's Even Worse
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 01:54 PM
Feb 2019

There is bad and then there is worse. The upshot is that America as very far to go.

murielm99

(30,967 posts)
16. No wonder so many black women die
Sat Feb 2, 2019, 02:03 PM
Feb 2019

in childbirth. They are treated callously or not treated at all.

What a terrible story.

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