If you remember on Thursday, the reason why I decided to treat myself to some new make up was because I had such an awful day. It began with the trolls on Twitter, followed by a New Patient Healthcheck with the Practice Nurse at my new GP Surgery.
I hate these appointments; I hate throwing shade at Practice Nurses because I’ve worked at GP Surgeries and I’ve worked, with some highly qualified and educated Nurses. However, the ones who work in the surgeries I’m always registered, at always seem to be dumb and prejudiced towards Epilepsy and people of colour.
My appointment was at 11am – I stupidly rolled out of bed and straight into the Surgery, without having anything to eat even though the week before, my partner had told me that he had had to wait over half an hour for his own appointment because the same nurse was running late. I ended up waiting over half an hour. The receptionist apologetically informed me that the nurse had struggled with some baby immunisations earlier in the morning.
The nurse finally called me almost forty minutes after my appointment time, offering no apology for running late. Then she saw a patient she knew and left me in her room to take this other patient to another room. I could hear them chatting, she was offering him a newspaper to make him more comfortable while he waited. I even heard her offering to make him a cup of tea! All while I was standing in her doorway, waiting for her. By this point I was furious and close to passing out.
The Nurse finally returned, still didn’t apologise but came in and sat straight down. I informed her that I she was running late, she had offered no apology, that I had Epilepsy, had not eaten and was extremely upset. Instead of apologising, she replied: “oh were you told to fast? You didn’t need to”. I then informed her that my medication makes it did difficult to wake in the mornings and that it also makes me sick, however that doesn’t excuse her lateness. She then told me that I could cancel (!) At this point, I’m ready to smack her, just apologise! And get on with the appointment. I had to explain to her that this was my second attempt to see her, as the last time I booked an appointment, I had a seizure and was rudely told by the receptionist that if I miss another New Patient Healthcheck I won’t be registered with the Surgery.
She then apologised.
Now, the reason why I keep making a big deal about her failure to apologise straightaway, is because when I told my partner (who is white, and so is the Nurse) what happened , he told me that the Nurse apologised straightaway and couldn’t apologise enough.
Yet I had to beg for mine. Because I’m Black, right?
She then took my height, weight and blood pressure.
She didn’t say anything about my weight, but I knew a lecture was coming…..
She told me that my blood pressure was high – no shit. We’ve just been arguing! However, she tried to convince me that I had high blood pressure because “people like you do”. And there we go, health professionals making assumptions. Instead of taking into account the fact that she had kept me waiting for over 30 minutes for an appointment, without any food and then provoked me into an argument, she instead diagnosed me as having a high blood pressure problem. She ordered me to come back and see her in two weeks time. I immediately refused and ordered her to read through my medical file, to which she will find that I have never had a high blood pressure issue.
Which of course was confirmed in my records.
As for my Epilepsy, she told me that she has a patient who also has Epilepsy and can talk themselves out of their seizures. I told her that was a lie, and I am under the care of a great team. She disregarded that, and recommended that I try Tai Chi for my seizures, “just like her patient who can talk herself out of her seizures”.
As people of colour, we need to educate ourselves. This same dumb woman who is telling me this shit about my epilepsy, was also trying to diagnose me with a blood pressure condition I know for a fact that I don’t have and also told me that I have a weight problem.
I’m not skinny, but I’m not fucking obese either. Since I had to stop working and my seizures became worse, I’m not as active as I was and I’ve noticed a little weight gain around my middle, however I’m nowhere near as heavy as I was 2 years ago.
Last year I went to see a Psychiatrist, and when I told him I was a UK size 12-14, he looked at my like I was lying, and in the clinical letter, he actually wrote that I was “clearly lying.” This was actually one of the reasons why he also believed that I was lying about having Epilepsy and therefore diagnosed me as having Borderline Personality Disorder.
Anyway, the point I’m making is *breath* as women of colour, especially in the U.K. we need to challenge Primary Care clinicians more, because they have no idea what the fuck they are talking about, especially when it comes to our health. The BMI calculator in particularly, was not created for us! I’ve weighed my boobs and each one weighs 1.5kg! Our body fat is distributed differently in comparison to White women, which the BMI calculator doesn’t take into account. We have booty and also a higher bone density: physiologically we are completely different to the White European “ideals” that the BMI calculator was created from. When you go on the NHS Choice website to check your BMI, all you see are White women telling you how to be like them. Eurocentric standards healthcare are one of the reasons why so many women of colour have eating disorders. It was one of the reasons why I spent most of adolescent years with an undiagnosed eating disorder.
I found this great article by Linda Lowen about Black BMI, which is a great starting point. I’m definitely going to stay healthy, but I’m also going to be doing my own research.