An initiative of the National Women’s Council of Ireland


Ruth’s Story

December 10, 2013 at 10:32

"I have never been a fan of going to the doctor, but honestly who is. Since I’ve started university, I try to make the most of my free access to the medical centre.
The doctors and nurses in the college medical centre have always so understanding because they are constantly dealing with students. I have never been afraid to air my concerns about my physical and sexual health.

It was September, my first week back in college. I had barely stepped back in the door and I fell ill. I was nauseous and dizzy. This wasn't like me at all; the most I get is a cold or flu, maybe a chest infection.

Before my first lecture had ended I grabbed my bag and ran out of the room knowing I wasn't going to last much longer. Something was brewing.
I arrived at the medical centre towards the end of the drop in session. The nurse asked me had I been there before and continued with all the familiar formalities. When we got to my symptoms I told her I was nauseous and she suddenly changed her tune. She left me standing in the corridor and came back with a small plastic container and demanded I was pregnant.
I was in shock. I discreetly told her that I wasn't. I hadn't been with anyone for over six months and that I had a regular period. “No” she said “If you are sexually active there is a possibility”. I was embarrassed and she wouldn't let it go.

She resorted to telling me it was a possibility I had a kidney infection and she would like to rule it out. We both knew that was just an excuse, to take my urine. I wanted to leave but I felt so sick, that just wasn't an option. I did as she asked.
I gave her the urine sample and marched into her office. As a result of the confrontation, the nurse got short with me asking questions like “Are you sure you didn’t have too much to drink last night?” I tried to ignore her tone and politely answer the questions. We waited for the test to convey the results. She turned to me and said “Yeah, you don’t have a kidney infection.”
She proceeded to tell me there was nothing she could do, it was a stomach bug and my bed was the only place for me.

The whole experience left me feeling deflated. I was so ill that I couldn't comprehend what had happened. I had this experience, an experience that many other women have just because of their sex. Three months on and I still don’t know what the best thing to do in that situation." - Ruth