Have you ever felt diminished in a common situation? In the mood to disappear?
August 6, 2020. I had a virtual appointment for a checkup and 10 minutes before the scheduled time I was ready in front of my laptop, checking all the items on my list, so I could talk to the doctor.
I have always liked making lists, as they help me make sure I´m not forgetting anything important. And now they have an additional function: they serve as a guide to me, especially when I need to use technical terms during a conversation, in a language I am not fluent in.
As the consultation started, I felt we got off on the wrong foot. But oh well, what could go wrong in a simple doctor's appointment? Everything! The doctor’s lack of empathy combined with my lack of fluency in the language created the perfect storm.....believe me!
You see, I had prepared a list of the exams I would like to do, based on my last check up 2 years ago and the symptoms I had been having lately, to discuss with the doctor. But to my surprise, she showed no interest in listening to me. The only thing that seemed to concern her was the fact that I, a mere patient, who barely speaks her language (English or medicine?), had the audacity to come up to her office with a list of exams to discuss with her - the expert.
What would you do in a situation like this? I can tell you without a doubt that, if we spoke the same language on equal footing, I would have easily handled this situation by trying to have a respectful and polite dialogue, explaining my motivations (always my first choice) or simply requesting that the exams be prescribed. After all, I'm the patient, the insurance health plan - and pocket - are mine! But guess what happened?
She was offended that I wanted to discuss the exams and I felt humiliated and ignored by her! This situation would certainly have unfolded differently if we were in a country where I feel comfortable with the language. Like Brazil (my country of origin) or France (my country of heart, where I lived for 4 years). If there is one thing I know how to do very well is to communicate clearly and assertively, without any discomfort. Conflict was never a problem for me. I’m a strong and determined woman, but that day I felt like a vulnerable and insignificant girl.
I understand that health systems differ from country to country. I understand that the doctor-patient relationship is also different. I understand that it can be difficult for those who work with a focus on the disease to focus on prevention. But what I will never understand is how a doctor, or anyone in the caring professions, whose jobs revolve around dealing with people, can show no interest in listening to them. To understand them!
Despite leaving the office with the prescribed tests in the end, I was unable to establish a connection with the doctor. I have a lot of respect for people and I know how much effort she made to get to where she is, but that does not give her the right to act superior to anyone. Who should the patient turn to when he or she is concerned about their health? For me it was a lose x lose situation!
When I got in the car, I broke down. Tears were streaming down my face. And I'm not a crier. Quite the opposite - although I am often moved by simple gestures, I rarely cry. And I don't like for people to see me crying. I never did. Crying, to me, is something very intimate. It's almost like I'm naked.
When I got home, I tried to get myself together and wipe away the tears, but when my husband asked me what happened, I broke down again. As we talked I calmed down and realized that my reason for crying was not just the “conflict” with the doctor. I know that the fact that I’m not yet fluent in the language makes me feel vulnerable and uncomfortable, but it`s not only that!
It is hard to start over again. Having to reinvent myself at 48, when in spite of feeling like I’m at the best stage of my life, physically, emotionally and professionally; people and the job market do not see me that way. It is not easy to know that because I do not have a past here, people don’t seem to be interested in my experiences. It is very difficult to think about studying grammar rules while my head is overflowing with ideas and what I would really like to be doing is putting them into practice. It is painful to feel isolated, despite being part of a wonderful Brazilian community!
All of these feelings triggered by the situation with the doctor made me feel almost invisible. Microscopic. And I decided that I never want to feel that way again. Even having a million excuses that allow me to stay in place, I decided to create a space so that you and I can feel supported, respected and valued.
A space where we can talk about the changes that age brings us. A safe space with relevant content that can help us live a purposeful life. A space where we are encouraged to fulfill our wishes and dreams. Where we can give voice to our thoughts, and also learn from the experiences of others. A space to talk about health, well-being, menopause, relationships,marriage, divorce, sex, career, motherhood and finance. Where we can also talk about leisure and small pleasures. A space where we find encouragement, support, strength and unity. No judgement! Finally, a female community where we can support each other, share experiences and propel ourselves to the next level!
This space has a name: #naw - no apologies women. A digital community, for mature women, with content of great relevance. Welcome!
Cover - Photo Mix by Pixabay
Post - Jul Chi by Pixabay