We invite you to join the international WomanSafeHealth community by sharing a personal story of medical disrespect, health care empowerment, woman advocacy, or anything else you think people could benefit from. Sharing our HerStories connects, empowers, and inspires us all.

If you choose to share your HerStory or new lexicon* words, please follow these safety guidelines:

  1. Share your story or new lexicon words anonymously by choosing a first name other than your own.
  2. Include where you live in the world (country or region) only if you feel safe doing so.
  3. Do not use any identifying information about specific health care providers, institutions, family members, friends, yourself or colleagues, whether or not the comments are positive or negative.
  4. Please limit your contribution to 500 words or less.

Thank you for contributing to the creation of this safe online WomanSafeHealth HerStory community.

* lexicon the dictionary of words commonly used at WomanSafeHealth and in this book, including new and repurposed language and feminist concepts.

1 + 12 =

Misha: It’s Not Hilarious

At the age of 58 I needed to find an orthodontist to help me realign my teeth following dental surgery. I went to the most well-known orthodontist office in Ann Arbor, to interview them. While reviewing my medical history the woman in charge of new patients asked me why I wrote something I did on their form regarding problems with my teeth. I said a problem I had, as a child, was that the dentist I went to, who was a friend of my father, was an alcoholic and would work on me drunk. The woman burst out laughing and responded with “That’s hilarious!” I responded that it was not hilarious. She then said, again, laughing, “That’s hilarious!” I did not pick that orthodontist.

Elena: “Hysterical” Girl

“We only run that test if there’s a family history.” That’s the excuse I got for why my Immunodeficiency went undiagnosed for 28 years. I’m adopted. I have no family medical history – period. Constant illnesses ranging from sinus infections to serious infections  landed me in the hospital. I was told that it was “just bad luck” or that I “need to handle stress better.” At the age of 28, I left a prestigious University system and went to a private practice. After explaining my medical history, the doctor’s first words were “I believe you, there’s something else going on here.” He eventually diagnosed my immunodeficiency. He took me seriously, gave me proper treatment, and greatly improved my quality of life. If only someone at that prestigious University system would have looked at me as a person, rather than just a young “hysterical” girl…

Janice: Lies

I went for a fertility out patient procedure, and was catastrophically injured. I spent 3 months in ICU on life support, and endured 28 surgeries, including massive bowel resection. That had left me with many permanent disabilities, including Short Bowel Syndrome. A resident was the one who performed the procedure, even though  I instructed my physician  that I did not want a resident involved. He told me the resident would only be observing, not touching me. He lied.

Thuy: Medical Rape

My Mother was a petite, 82 year old woman who was pharmaceutically raped when unscrupulous healthcare workers penetrated her with a hypodermic needle full of the powerful and dangerous anti psychotic drug haldol, against her will, without her consent and against my orders as her medical durable power of attorney.  She died just days later in an irreversible vegetative state.  She was only supposed to do a week of physical therapy rehab for a back sprain!  The inappropriate drugging of the elderly is Felony Elder Abuse in the United States and we must stop the pharmaceutical rape violence against elderly women by predatory healthcare workers by demanding the criminal prosecution of these medical miscreants!

Jae: “You’ll be fine…”

I was shocked.

“You’ll be fine,” and insisted I go in, in two days.

To make a long story short. He mutilated six organs from my body, and God knows how many lymph nodes, as that was covered-up. He botched it beyond repair leaving me wailing in agony every day and bleeding out since he butchered me in June 2005.

The morning after he slaughtered my organs, he smugly told me that I was as clean as a whistle; that all my removed organs had been healthy.

He removed healthy organs.

I was coerced into having an unneeded hysterectomy; a hysterectomy that has left me in agonizing pain ever since. For what? Profit? Medical training? I don’t know, but I am devastated.

When I tried to bring a complaint against him and the hospital, the whole system took his side and did everything to discredit me and spread the word I was paranoid. They denied that I was in any pain, and kept sending me to psychiatrists who just kept pushing drugs on me and telling me they found nothing wrong in the tests when I kept telling them how much pain I’m in.

I was a victim of fraud and criminal medical malpractice, and my health and my life has been destroyed by those evil doctors. Why aren’t women warned about these corrupt doctors who trick healthy women into unnecessary hysterectomies. This surgical racket has been going on for decades and will never stop because the system is geared to protect doctors, and not patients, from unnecessary harm.

Julie: Roll their eyes

I recently had an accident that fractured several bones.  After many months of limited activity, I was prescribed physical therapy treatment.  I went for an evaluation at a clinic near my home.  The evaluation was in private and the physical therapist (PT) indicated that he was knowledgeable on how to help my recovery.  The privacy and individual care ended there.  My sessions took place in a large gym with 8-12 people including the receptionist.  My PT scheduled 3-5 patients for his “supervision” at one time.  Several times I told him what I was able to do at home, hoping to customize my exercise to my goals. He nodded and smiled, but not one change was made. After I asked several times, his response was “do you have a co-pay?” Apparently, if there was no cost to me, I was going to get minimum care. At each session I was told 2-3 exercises at a time to complete independently.  Many times I could not recall what they were.  The PT or the assistant would roll their eyes and reluctantly review the motions with me. After 10 sessions his company required I fill out a questionnaire containing approximately 50 questions. The questions included very personal information regarding my physical abilities, pain and emotional state. The PT never made mention of this survey again. I wish I hadn’t given my personal information.  My assigned exercises, repetition, weight/resistance, and exercise times were exactly the same as patients with arm, back, hip and knee injuries. The age of the patient did not matter either.  Ages 35-90 years old did the same routine. Each session ended with an assistant attaching adhesive patches to my injury for electronic stimulation.  Each time the assistant did not ask to move my clothing to place the electrodes.  I was out in the open laying on a table among all the other patients. When I asked to be placed in a private location, the assistant looked confused and stated, “This IS your assigned table.” I did not know what to do.  I felt like I was doing something wrong to get this treatment.  I skipped many sessions because of this.  I ended my treatment early because they made me feel like I was invisible and was too ignorant to understand how therapy works.


Anna: I want the world to see…

“I am a 49 year old survivor of Munchausen by Proxy.  My mother, a nurse, made me into her ultimate patient because my father would not let her practice her profession.  My father and my brothers and sisters enabled this abuse, which nearly killed me on more than occasion, and left me with severe, chronic physical conditions along with severe PTSD. My original poem which follows is my fight song.

I want the world to see…
I want the world to see what mother has done to me;
I want the world to see…
I want the world to see how my father sacrificed me;
I want the world to see…
I want the world to see how my sisters bullied me;
I want the world to see…
I want the world to see how my brothers never defended me;
I want the world to see…

Oakland County, Michigan, USA

Heather: Easier to “be good”

“I was asked to view a video on how to give a shot to myself. I told the nurse
I already knew how to give myself a shot and that I’d seen that video
before. I said ‘no,’ I do not want or need to watch it again. The nurse said,
‘we have to follow the rules.’ I could have said ‘no,’ again, but sometimes it
is easier to ‘be good’ when I’m sick than to put up a fight. It was easier
to sit in pain and watch that video than it was to argue any more. How
I was feeling in the moment was less important than following protocol.”

Bahar: Failure to communicate

“When I went to a new health care professional, he said that he took my
health insurance after I gave him my health insurance card. He proceeded
to take a series of expensive X-rays. When I went back for the follow-up visit
he said he did not take my insurance. He tried to charge me for the tests
he initially said were covered. He then attempted to belittle and shame
me into paying for the X-rays. I challenged him. ‘We have had a failure
to communicate. I will not be treated by anyone the way you just treated
me.’ I challenged him and did not pay for the X-rays. I never went back.”

Tory: I can’t ever come back here

“I had been going to my dentist for several years. I was recently divorced
and it had been an awful, ugly divorce. My ex-husband had been stalking
me for more than a year. While the dental assistant was working in my
mouth, I could look up on a computer screen and see every patient’s full
name on the schedule. As I glanced up, I saw that my stalker was on the
schedule. My ex-husband had never been a client here before . I went into
a full blown panic attack while the hygienist continued to work on me. I
started gagging and sweating. They stopped and I sat up. I knew that
if I could see his name, he’s probably seen mine. I left abruptly without
finishing my cleaning. I thought “ I can’t ever come back here. They won’t
keep me safe.”