December 12, 2013 at 2:49
"When I was about 15 my mother brought me, not to our usual GP, but a female GP in the neighbourhood because I was having such problems with my periods – they were always very painful and I would end up always curled up in a ball unable to move and crying for at least a day a month, and most months – vomiting or fainting, which I found embarrassing when it happened at school. Our family GP had just recommended strong painkillers to be taken when I thought my period was about to start. But that was often difficult to anticipate, the drugs rarely worked and my family weren’t fans of strong painkillers being taken on an ongoing basis, especially by a young person. My mother brought me to a female GP to get a second opinion and also to see if there was anything wrong. This GP did not examine or even speak to me but gave my mother a big lecture about it just being something I’d have to grin and bear and get on with and not to indulge me. I had already been feeling pretty bad but came out of that visit feeling really crap about myself, thinking that I was just a moan and not able to cope with something that everyone else had to manage. I also never wanted to go back to a GP for any other health visit as was sure I was a hypochondriac. A few years and one child later, I’m now aware that the pain was chronic (e.g. the same level of pain as labour pain) and that fainting and vomiting during a period is not the norm. I don’t know whether anything more could have been done to treat it but I’m pretty sure I didn’t have to end up feeling worse about myself coming out of a GP visit than I did going in. I don’t think all health practitioners are always very respectful towards patients but at least now I know how to articulate how I expect to be treated. I don’t think that’s easy to do when we’re younger." - Maya.