See, Hear, and Believe Women's Pain by Katey Zeh


I’ve just left my heart in San Francisco. The producer of a new documentary being filmed by award-winning director, Marco Bazzo, invited me to California to be interviewed for the film. We decided to meet in the city by the bay, and I brought my family with me. We held the interview on the afternoon of our arrival and it went very well. I’ll let you know when the film comes out.

The next three days were filled with wonderful experiences, including a night time tour of Alcatraz on Friday the 13th, a tour of the city, and a long walk through the magnificent Muir Woods. These were followed by two more days of dining at excellent restaurants and sampling delicious wines in Napa Valley. Of course, the grandchildren missed out on the wine, but enjoyed an olive oil tasting at Round Pond vineyard and olive orchard, a bike ride around Yountsville, and many other fun experiences.

We awoke yesterday morning in time to view the live coverage of the Trump/Putin meeting in Helsinki. Words fail me. May love and truth prevail.

Meanwhile, I just read this article from the blog Feminism and Religion and believe it’s a message that needs to be spread. So here’s my first ever reblog. I hope you find it meaningful.

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10 Responses

  1. Yes, male doctors can really screw up, but they can equally screw up with men as one male doctor badly misdiagnosed my husband, nearly killing him. Also, a female doctor really misdiagnosed me, and I have changed doctors several times, looking for a doctor I can trust. Research medical facilities and staff in your area… you might be sadly surprised. I’m glad this woman lucked out and found a responsible doctor.

    1. Yes, you’ve made an excellent point, Gwynn. I’ve had similar, although not life-threatening, experiences with both. There’s excellence and mediocrity on both sides, and medicine does seem to be less and less about gender these days. But there are still vestiges of gender bias in this profession as well as others, and they all need to be addressed. I hope you and your husband have found good doctors you can trust, regardless of gender!

  2. There has certainly been a qualitative difference between the advice and treatment given by the medical profession to the males and females in my family, with the women generally being on the dodgy end of that advice. From a GP refusing to prescribe a morning-after pill, “why don’t you wait a week or so? You’re probably not pregnant.” A hospital consultant dismissing as a phantom pregnancy, which turned out to be polycystic ovaries, and my daughter, then in her teens , being turned away from A&E numerous times after collapsing because , as she was lying on a gurney “you’re all right now”. It took her father to insist that she was going nowhere until they got to the bottom of it, and she was only “all right” because she was lying down.
    My favourite was a GP, asking my wife Susie, who seemed to be presenting with symptoms of a mini-stroke “What do you WANT it to be”! Yet that same GP when attended by myself could be compassionate and clued up on any issue I presented with.

    1. Wow! That’s about as condescending as one can get! It’s amazing how much abusive behavior women get from men, sometimes on a daily basis, and yet try their best to forgive. Thank you for these great examples. Your perspective on this issue is greatly appreciated, especially considering your long experience in the profession. And you’ve given me a great insight into an experience I had as a girl entering high school. A boy I knew from elementary school made the most humiliating remark to me anyone ever has, and ended up becoming a doctor! I feel very sorry for his female patients if he never got over his arrogance!

  3. ‘The trauma of not being seen …’ that psychic wound is real. Her treatment was appalling. I wonder what has happened to many who’ve been called to the healing profession … have they become so blunted to another’s pain from fear? Their own fear of their own wounds maybe? I don’t know.. My personal experience with medical people has been good – I know I am fortunate in this. I’m glad that Rachel has been restored to good physical health. And thank you to her husband for telling her story …
    Yes, we’re watching the fall out from those words he did/didn’t say .. may love and truth prevail. Glad that San Francisco was so wonderful. It’s a beautiful city 🙂

    1. You make an excellent point. Yes, psychic wounds are real. They can crush a soul just as easily as a falling boulder can crush a body, yet somehow we tend to dismiss them as being less important than physical trauma. I wonder some of the same things you do about the medical professionals who have forgotten how to respect pain of all kinds. That lack of empathy is indeed appalling.
      I’m glad to hear you’ve not experienced that. I haven’t experienced it for the most part either, with one notable exception. The afternoon after my son was born I developed an allergic reaction to the pain reliever they were giving me. My throat started swelling up and I was afraid and crying when the doctor who delivered my baby walked in. He took one look at my tears and walked back out of the room. I should have felt outraged but I only felt ashamed. However, I’m feeling a little hot under the collar as I think about it now!

      1. This struck a memory Jeanie and while meditating this morning I felt tearful. After my son was born and on my return home I started to feel unwell. Oh don’t worry they all said.. a little postpartum blues. A gynecologist (not my usual one who was away) came to see me at home and promptly had me admitted to hospital where I recovered for about 10 days. My baby with me of course. Anyway – thanks for sharing your experience which jogged mine ?

  4. I think I may have posted a reply from my phone which appears not to have come through so at the risk of repetition I’ll repeat it – this morning while meditating my first new born son came to mind. He was a bonny big and strong infant and I was also well. But on returning home I got ill a few days later. Everyone thought I was suffering from post partum blues – and my family is a medical one. A friend of my husband’s came by – a gynaecologist, not the same specialty as my husband’s and took one look at me and had me admitted pretty pronto to hospital. I took my baby Mike along with me of course and he was with me for the week or so that I was there in my room under my eagle eye. But this thought this morning of ‘not being heard’ when I was ill came to mind this morning … it was an emotional meditation in its way … and it may well have come up because of your earlier response to me Jeanie re that man walking away …

    1. Hi Susan, your comment did come through as you’ll see when you read this on my blog. But I couldn’t respond right away. I only just now commented! I’ve been in transition between two different places and haven’t had a moment to address several emails. So it actually wasn’t post partum blues, but something else? Well, good that your husband’s friend came by and realized it was something more. But even it had been, it should have been taken seriously. I’ve heard some horror stories about women who’ve had it….

  5. “…a little postpartum blues…” Sort of like “Oh, it’s just a little post-traumatic stress..” that soldiers used to hear all the time after coming home from wars. It’s not just the medical profession, but collective thinking in general. I remember hearing disparaging remarks about these conditions from men and women of my mother’s generation, as if people who suffered with any kind of “invisible” mental/emotional issues after difficult experiences had character flaws, were somehow weak or cowardly whiners, etc. They said, “Oh, it’s all in his/her head! Why doesn’t he/she just toughen up and get over it!” as if it was just that easy. Fortunately, we’re beginning to realize how big and debilitating these inner wounds can be. You were lucky your doctor took your illness seriously. Thanks for your comment. It added depth to this discussion.

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