Mary’s story- the importance of listening in women’s healthcare
“I feel like there is the expectation that doctors make all the decisions"
“A lot of disabled women are left in the background, you know. People don’t understand the problems that come with having disabilities- we still get periods; we still go through menopause. There are simple things that people take for granted every day.
I feel like people are not listening to me, you know. I feel like there is the expectation that doctors make all the decisions; “your body, when you’re in my care, is mine now and I can like touch it and do whatever I want with it.”
I’ve had it before where I gave been left on a hospital bed, when they stripped me for an X-ray. I got a fright when I was lying in the bed naked and the cover had come down, and all I could do was lie there, while everyone could see me. That was what made me cry. It’s just such a lack of consideration, and when you’re in a vulnerable place anyway because you’re relying on people’s help, and something like that happens.
So now I tell them there’s other ways you can do things, like with my smear test. I tell them come to the house where the bed is already there instead of going to doctor’s surgeries and having to use a hoist. It would be great if Nurses could go around and check and see what people, what women, want, if that’s the way they’d like it. There is a lot of things which are offered to people in their homes, but not this.
People just, they don’t do it on purpose. They think they’re doing the best for you. Sometimes I’m scared to speak up in case somebody judges me wholly on my disability. I hate that because I worry that I might start feeling sorry for myself, or they start to feel sorry for me. When somebody tries to speak up for me, I hate that as well. When they say “oh, this is how this disabled person would feel”. And I don’t feel like that. I can speak up for myself.”
Mary’s story is release in partnership with the Supporting the Women’s Health Plan work at the ALLIANCE, in conjunction with Cervical Screening Awareness Week.
You can find out more information about the ALLIANCE’s Supporting the Women’s Health Plan work here.
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