BIPOC pain management
Updated: Sep 15, 2022
Written by: Rocha Dollar
“I’m falling apart! I’m falling apart!” I screamed, but really more of a harsh whisper.
Those were my first words when I work up from my hysterectomy. I was 23 years old. The nurses told me to calm down. That I *had* to calm down ‘or else’. My response was to repeatedly whisper-yell more of my new hit single, “I’m falling apart!” They put a sedative in my line and I was out.
For two and a half days I kept hollerin’ my hot new EP. Every day they told me to calm down, that there was a pain button. I kept telling them I was hitting the damn button like I was on Jeopardy and knew EVERY ANSWER. Nothing was happening! After HOURS of pain, they’d push a little sedative into my line. It was our ‘fun’ little ‘game’.
On day three a new nurse came to change my dressing. When she removed the old dressing the nurse discovered the pain pump from surgery was never inserted. The drip of pain meds that should have spanned the nearly 12” incision through my abdominal wall and provided me pain relief was never inserted. The pump was just… kind of just sitting there? A clear roll of tubing bandaged in a clump near my left hip. The hospital increased my pain medication after that day. (Thank dog.) All this to say that for three days, despite pleading, I was allowed to feel fileted alive.
Being BIPOC means advocating for my pain management isn’t easy. Advocating for pain management can mean interacting with providers who label me as “drug seeking” (without cause). I’m not seeking drugs; I’m seeking pain management. Not being believed means painful procedures where some physicians don’t stop when I ask and even have mocked my pain. That’s why seeking medical care scares the shit out of me.
Seeking medical care can be scary for a lot of folx who are BIPOC, LGBTQAI2S+, non-binary, and/or disabled just to name a few of the many communities’ healthcare has harmed. Sometimes we don’t bother seeking care. That hurts us. Not seeking care hurts not only us, but our families and our communities.
For that reason, I’m pleading with my healthcare siblings, what are we doing to combat the fact that #RacismIsAPublicHealthCrisis?
About the Author
Sr. project specialist, Public Health educator, longtime community volunteer, friend of dogs and raccoon aficionado. They’re on a mission to advocate for the patient experience and ensure continuous learning. Their motto is “Be good. We never know what others are going through.”