Denying Someone Else’s Reality

Last month my husband and daughter were playing a casual game of soccer, which basically meant Daddy was standing there kicking the ball at the Kid, who was chasing it all over the place. Eventually, the Kid got mad because she was doing badly and all Daddy was doing was standing there. She thought he should run around more.

“I’m tired,” said Daddy.

“How can you be tired? You were just lying around all day,” said the Kid.

“I’m sick,” replied Daddy.

“How can you still be sick? You got sick last week,” griped the Kid.

The conversation continued with the Kid still in a state of denial.

When a child does this, we understand that they don’t understand, and think it’s cute, even though it’s also annoying. However, when a healthcare professional does it, it is mindblowingly unfathomable.

If you are a person who is sensitive to internal pain, you have probably experienced a fair amount of gaslighting from healthcare professionals. Although this post contains some personal information, I wanted to show what it’s like when another adult just can’t seem to fathom that we are capable of feeling what we feel.

  • I went to a gastroenterologist complaining of pain under my right rib cage and burping (classic signs of gallbladder trouble if you care to google it) and was told my burping was just a “habit” and the pain I was experiencing was just “nerves.” Turns out I had chronic cholecystitis and needed to have my gallbladder removed.
  • When I was in moaning in pain during labor my midwife actually told me at one point, “you don’t have to make all that noise.” As if, I would be like “Oh! Ok,” and then just have a baby, all quiet-like.
  • After the pain drugs wore off post colonoscopy/polypectomy, I had terrible pain in the region where two polyps had been burned off. When I spoke to the nurse on the phone, she told me that the colon does not ever feel pain, unless it is extended with gas (wow, I guess she’d never had a case of food poisoning). Turned out I had post-polypectomy electrocoagulation syndrome, which basically means stuff inside my colon got burned that wasn’t supposed to be, and yes, I could feel that and it hurt.

If you’ve got your own story to add I’d love to hear it.