How Choosing A Clinician of Color Changed My Life
By: Danielle Hobbs
I winced. I writhed. I expressed that she was hurting me and was met with a nonchalant, “Yes, I know it’s uncomfortable. Hold tight, it’ll be over soon.” I felt somewhere between violated and experimented on when I heard the snap of the white gloves over her pale knuckles. “You can put your clothes on now. It’s totally typical for a black woman your age. As far as fertility is concerned, I’m not worried about the fibroids as much as I am about your age,” I shrugged off the sting of her last statement and asked how we should manage my pain and she said, “Right now, there’s nothing to be done. Just take Ibuprofen for the discomfort.” I scooted off the cold metal table, eyes watering from humiliation. Somehow this didn’t feel like a checkup. Somehow, I felt like she just mentally checked off the ‘typical black girl’ box in her arrogant head. Somehow, I validated some tally of statistics she was desperately trying to verify from her medical school research. I clutched the clothes in my hand to my chest and scampered out of the doctor’s office feeling bewildered.
On the ride home, the tears started to burn with anger. It took her all of 15 minutes to decide that ‘there was nothing to be done.” I concluded my solo rant with the belief that the physician was callous, unresponsive, and ill-equipped to be my physician. Blinded by her mental Rolodex of case studies and conscious bias, she was not invested in my welfare.
This new revelation strengthened my resolve. I promptly contacted the physician’s office to tell them I would not be returning. My declaration was followed with phone calls by other practitioners to salvage the relationship mainly due to the fact that I carried premium insurance.
In every other aspect of my life, my self-care circle has been well constructed. The women of color who surround me have the science of finding the most dynamic team of hair stylists, makeup artists, and nail technicians down to an art. However, finding a physician who is as holistically intuitive as they are clinically qualified seemed sacrilegious. After all, the word of a physician is historically perceived as the gospel. Yet, your symptoms and feelings reveal the nature and source of the illness you are battling. So choosing someone who values the importance of including you in your wellness plan is vital.
However, in case they do not, here are a few reasons to move on from your physician:
1. Your physician doesn’t listen to you.
2. Your physician spouts statistics and case studies instead of taking a customized approach to your care.
3. Your physician neglects to follow up with results or prescriptions.
4. Your physician doesn’t respect your time.
5. The office staff is rude and unorganized.
After research and a consultation, I found an amazing OB/GYN. She instantly identified with the pain I was experiencing because, besides her extensive expertise, she also was diagnosed with fibroids at an early age. We discussed my symptoms at length or rather she told me exactly what I was feeling without me hardly uttering a syllable. She is available by online consult two days a week in case I had any questions. She immediately scheduled and performed my surgery removing 13 massive fibroids from my 5-foot frame. Now six months post surgery, I speak to her frequently about my progress and fertility options. The pain, subsequently, is non-existent and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Choosing a physician you trust is not simply an option, it’s a fundamental right to preserving your well-being.
A Jersey native, health administrator, wellness advocate and educator, Danielle Kimberly is committed to addressing barriers to access, literacy and self-advocacy. Follow her as she rallies women on a new instagram page @whatwellnesslookslike in speaking up for their health and self development.