I feel like I’m constantly put in a position to go against the grain. To speak up too loudly and ask too many questions. To have an irregular experience. I became more aware of it in high school, and initially felt like all the wack shit happens to me. I’ve evolved from the victim mentality and now understand that there’s greater responsibility placed on certain folks. I typically accept that responsibility humbly, as it is an honor to face great obstacles because they yield great results that reach beyond me. But honestly, now more than ever, I just want a regular degular experience.
I’ve passively noticed and faced the lack of compassion, professionalism and concern black women deal with as patients in the medical industry. As a teen, I struggled horribly with my period. I would bleed for months, heavily. Imagine the horror of already not having much and ruining all of your jeans. I was hemorrhaging, and simply prescribed birth control with no explanation, which brought about its own set of side affects that I just had to deal with. Shortly after Cairo, I had a miscarriage. Mortified by the pain I woke up in, labor pains I’d experienced only two short months before, I called my midwife. She told me to stay calm, go to the bathroom and push. To feel my cervix opening up so soon was indescribable. I was not encouraged to go to the doctor, but to follow up at my regular check-up, where it was dismissed as a heavy cycle and not mentioned again. It’s not even in my medical records. I was still so mentally fragile I was afraid for a minute that I was being dramatic. But til’ this day when I reflect on the pain I was in and the trauma of pushing and feeling life slip from my body yet again, I know exactly what was happening. Because it was not affirmed for me by a medical professional, I’m not sure whether to bring it up when recounting my medical history with new providers. It seems best almost to keep it to myself.
I’ve been in the process of transitioning to Florida with my fiancé. The plan has been for me not to work and sling bags for Delta due to the risks associated with lifting, so I’ve been on medical leave since October. Given my history with Cairo, my family have been insistent on my relaxing and enjoying this pregnancy. I could not have predicted that medical care for myself and my baby would be my biggest stressor during this time. Coming from Minnesota, I initially thought things were just done less efficiently here. No shade, but it’s the south, so maybe shit was just a lil slower than I’m used to. I canceled my Minnesota medical insurance with a month in between my appointments to get myself situated. I applied for Florida’s state coverage at the top of January, but before it could even become active, I had to go to the Emergency room. On a random Tuesday during my 23rd week, same timeframe I lost Cairo, I had intense pains in my stomach that persisted over an hour. Ya’ll wanna talk about FEAR? Jesus, I could damn near feel my heart sinking. Twenty minutes of paperwork later and nobody asking me if I was okay, if I even needed water, I was put in a room for 4 hours and basically told I was only being tested for STD’s because they, with no testing or ultrasound, could not understand where the pain had come from. The nurse didn’t even take my urine sample until I was about to leave. I received a $1500 bill and still have been unable to establish care ANYWHERE. My insurance became active less than a week after that but will not cover that visit or any other at the clinics with the higher ratings. The emergency room gave me a number to follow up with a high risk clinic, but didn’t put one note in my record regarding my visit and that clinic doesn’t accept state insurance unless you are officially stated to be high risk, so I am ineligible to be seen where I probably should. I went through a primary care who had two options of clinics I could go to; One has the worst ratings on google, with horror stories no pregnant woman could stomach. The other clinic has me and bae ready to fight their whole staff.
They won’t see you without the medical records. Cool. Makes sense. My previous clinic in Minneapolis faxed them right away. I call to confirm they have them a couple days later and was dismissed with ‘once they’re reviewed someone will get back to you.’ Kay. One solid week later, I call back. Same response. Two weeks later, they try to hit me with the same script. Hol’ up! I ask if it typically takes this long, and if I can at least confirm that they have my records. Instead of an answer, I’m transferred to the records department. I leave shorty a message and she calls back early the next day with an at-ti-tude. Long story short they didn’t have them, something that could have been confirmed for me immediately to be rectified. Because I didn’t like the way I was handled, I call the referral specialist at the primary care office to see if I could puhlease be referred elsewhere. There has to be more than two options! The lady was super kind and apologetic, unlike most I’d spoken to. She told me this particular clinic has a problem with holding up appointments and keeping up with records and she’s had to complain to management on more than one occasion. WHAAAA?! You mean to tell me that because of the insurance I’m eligible for due to the demographics I fall into, I can either go to a place called Exodus, meaning mass departure, (which doesn’t sound promising in itself) with the worst reviews or a place with no customer service and a history of playing with folks records and thus delaying their appointments?! Bitch. These conversations raise my blood pressure. Thank God my fiancé, AJ, steps in and handles majority of the business because I just get frustrated to tears. Moral of the story, I’m two months behind on appointments. I’ve missed key testing marks. And a day after my first son’s third birth and death date, I still have no prenatal care established in my new home. I can’t help but to feel it is because I am black. And at present I do not work. And because I am just the type to challenge why the fuck these people are playing with me.
This post is for those who’ve been mistreated when they need the most help and compassion. I feel you. I literally shed tears as I write this thinking of the statistics. Black babies in the US die at over two times the rate of white babies. Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. This isn’t a third world country! These numbers are hitting me tough. Maybe I’ll start a movement. Maybe I’m just venting. Maybe this is for somebody else. Maybe this is a cry for help because ya’ll, I’m not sure what to do. Right now, all I can think is: #SFPWM!