If anyone ever wondered why some women don’t go to the doctor or really try to only go see a health professional if something is a complete emergency will wonder no more after this shocking story of medical gaslighting from mom and TikTok user Amanda Buschelman.
Buschelman — aka @amandabman on TikTok — shared her experience dealing with several different doctors who straight up didn’t believe her when she described her sever pain or when she told them about her own medical history.
In a now-viral TikTok, Buschelman shared how she encountered medical gaslighting after she sought relief from “extreme pain” at the local hospital’s emergency room.
“In today’s episode of, ‘Doctors Should Believe Women,’” she began, “I went to the doctor three weeks ago with extreme right side abdominal pain, and my doctor sent me to the emergency room with suspected appendicitis.”
Once she arrived at the ER and received some tests, the first doctor she spoke to told her that she was not suffering from appendicitis. He diagnosed her with an ovarian cyst instead.
“I don’t have any ovaries and I haven’t had any for 10 years,” she explained to the doctor. In an infuriating turn of events, he did not believe her and instead had the audacity to question her about her own life experiences sand medical history.
“Maybe you just had your uterus removed,” she said he replied.
“No, no. I was there the day they did it,” she told him. “They definitely took both my ovaries that day 10 years ago, so what you’re saying: it’s not that.”
After essentially giving up on her, he sends her on her way, though Buschelman was still in pain.
She noted that when she arrived back home and read the online charting from her ER visit, the doctor listed her as “anxious presenting.” The nerve! Who isn’t anxious when they’re at the ER in immense pain?
Don’t worry though! The story just gets more infuriating and sexist and typical from here.
After being send home from her first ER visit with no answers, Buschelman followed up with her primary care doctor again who insisted she go back to the ER.
During her second visit, seeing yet another male doctor, she was diagnosed with an ovarian cyst. This doctor, again, missed one major detail when pinpointing Buschelman’s pain: she has no ovaries to have a cyst on.
It took Buschelman insisting that the doctor look up her medical history to prove that her was telling the truth about having a full hysterectomy.
Finally, a doctor believed her. However, he still couldn’t figure out what is wrong with her and advised she go see her OB/GYN. Her OB/GYN immediately scheduled her for surgery because her pain was actually a combination of two extremely serious medical conditions: a large mass and (surprise!) appendicitis. Just like she had thought initially.
“Guess what,” she says. “I had appendicitis the whole time and I had my appendix taken out along with that little tumor that isn’t an ovary.”
Her incredibly exasperating experience caught the attention of tens of thousands of other people who sadly related to her plight.
One user wrote, “Yep. Had an ER doc and a former GP tell me straight to my face I didn’t have a hysterectomy back in April…”
Another said, “I went in one day to for a sore throat and the NP told me my tonsils looked good. I haven’t had tonsils in 20 years 🙃😅”
Others took a lighter approach to Buschelman’s story. “They really accused you of “ovary acting”! 😂,” one user wrote. Buschelman replied with crying-laughing emojis.
Another user said, “You think I’m ‘anxious presenting’ just wait for my ‘furious presenting.’”
Her video got so much traction that she updated her followers on what is she is now calling “Ovarygate 2023.”
She explained that the growth she had wasn’t actually a tumor. Turns out, she also had endometriosis that “made its way in there” and caused “all kinds of problems.”
Amanda then spoke about a conversation she had with her OB/GYN, who said that sometimes “things can be missed” by doctors.
However, it seems her OB/GYN couldn’t fully defend her colleagues. “The thing that confounds me is that where the tumor was is not where ovaries are,” her OB/GYN told her.
This story just gets worse and worse the more you learn about it.
Two doctors dismissed her pain and questioned her on her own medical history all the while not even knowing that this “cyst” they insisted was inside her wasn’t even where where ovaries would typically be in the human body.
Unfortunately, Buschelman’s story of being mistreated, questioned, and gaslit by doctors is not the only one out there. The Journal of the American Heart Association reported that women who visited emergency departments with chest pain waited 29 percent longer than men to be evaluated for possible heart attacks.
And a 2009 study showed that middle-aged women with chest pain and other symptoms relating to heart disease were twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness compared with men who had the same symptoms, in case you needed a reason to scream into the void today.
Over the past five years, The Katz Institute for Women’s Health has seen a steady increase in search demand for “Gaslighting” in relation to health and well-being.
“We should also keep in mind that while some gaslighting is done consciously, a lot of it happens unconsciously, too. A triage nurse may not deliberately tell a woman who comes to the ER complaining of chest pain that it’s all in her head, but she may notice that she’s very anxious and subconsciously make that assumption. That’s what makes this so hard to address,” Jennifer Hermina Mieres, MD, at the Katz Institute for Women’s Health explained.
Due to archaic and socialized gender biases, women are seen as overreacting or, like Buschelman, “anxious presenting” when trying to receive medical care.
“It’s no accident that the word ‘hysteria’ originates from the Greek word for ‘uterus.’ There’s still this pervasive belief in the medical community that anytime a woman complains about her health, it’s either related to her hormones or all in her head,” Stephanie Trentacoste McNally, MD of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Katz Institute for Women’s Health said.
Haven’t these doctors heard of the Man Flu?
So, what can women do to stand up for themselves when it comes to receiving fair treatment at the doctor’s office?
“If you disagree with your doctor, say so. Write down all your symptoms in a log or journal and show it to your physician to see if the two of you can figure out the bigger picture,” Clinical Psychologist Bella R. Grossman, MD, PhD at Katz Institute for Women’s Health advised.
“If you’re ignored—for example, your doctor refuses to brainstorm with you or won’t run more tests—get a second opinion. Remember, you know your body best. If something bothers you, you need to speak up for yourself.”