I started having terrible pelvic pain in my twenties.
I was a student at the time with very limited insurance. My only option was the health center on campus. I had OK care — but every time I went in I would see a new practitioner with very little experience in women’s health.
I finally saved up money to go to a gynecologist. The man I saw was cold — he didn’t listen to me, he dismissed my concerns and fear and told me that the pain was in my head, or that maybe I just didn’t like my partner (now husband). He also chastised me for seeing several providers and wrote down in my record that I was “searching for a diagnosis that was not there.”
I left that appointment feeling defeated and crazy. I had saved my tips for three months to see an “expert” in women’s health and was told that I was a hypochondriac who may be with the wrong partner. My pain was still there and now I was doubting myself and my health. This was the beginning of a six year journey for answers and an official diagnosis of endometriosis.
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After my appointment I had to go straight to work. My boss instantly recognized that something was wrong with me. I was so worked up over the visit that when she asked what was wrong, I broke down and told her everything, she listened to me — comforted me and then sent me to her provider at Planned Parenthood.
I thought I wouldn’t be able to afford it and feared having to go through another demoralizing experience, but she assured me that everything would be better.
She was right, I qualified for financial assistance and the nurse practitioner I saw talked with me for over an hour. She listened to me, she documented the pain I described, and she came up with a plan to help address my needs and concerns. I wasn’t diagnosed that afternoon, but she began the long process of assessing whether I had endometriosis. The compassion, the quality care, and support from Planned Parenthood empowered me to reclaim my health. I owe Planned Parenthood everything.
I wanted to share my story because none of my care would have been available to me without the help of Medicaid and Planned Parenthood. Endometriosis afflicts one in 10 women and yet so many people suffer in silence without treatment because they, like me, get dismissed by providers, or their practitioners do not know some of the available help that exists.
I was lucky, I had a boss with endometriosis, she did not let me wallow in self-doubt but sent me to her provider at Planned Parenthood.
If it was not for my boss who believed in me, and the provider at Planned Parenthood, it would have taken me longer to regain control over my health, my body and my voice. The repeal of the ACA terrifies me because not only will endometriosis be a pre-existing condition that could qualify me for higher premiums, but Planned Parenthood — the provider who believed in me and started me on the road to recovery — is being threatened with defunding.
This is unacceptable. Planned Parenthood was my champion when no one else was, it’s time for all of us to stand with Planned Parenthood and protect access to health care for all.
Tamarra Wieder is director of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.