This wasn't necessarily going to be a something I was going to share online, but after my experience yesterday, I feel I should. This may be a contentious issue, the topic/the discussion, but I still feel the need to share so that others going through it know they are not alone and perhaps opening a dialogue can help change people's mind.
Don't get me wrong, I feel very privileged for the most part to have the NHS in the UK. So much so that I even work for it. Covid has been shite, but we're getting there.
However, as soon as I, a female in her thirties, approached them about being sterilised I was met with resistance. I knew it would be difficult, any elective surgery on the NHS is difficult to get, but I was never given that as a reason. Instead I got all the usual bingo's, (you're too young, you'll change your mind, it's permanent - did you know that? etc.). Some of the reasons given actually made me feel physically nauseated, like "but you've got so many fertile years ahead of you". So what? Being fertile means I can't make life changing decisions? Yet I can decide to have a child at any time without anyone batting an eyelid.
When I eventually found an understanding GP who would refer me, the first two hospitals the requests went to were rejected as the waiting lists were too long, (Covid, understandable). I eventually got accepted at a hospital about 30 miles away and waited patiently for nearly 13 months to get an appointment.
Although I knew the likely outcome was no, I was still excited for the appointment. People that I'd spoken to that has been through the process told me it coukd take a number of tries, but gave me lots of information to take with me. I did my own research too and went armed with sheets of facts, reasons for me wanting it and questions that I still had despite the research that I knew a consultant could help with.
Instead when I arrived the system was down, so the doctor had no idea why I was there. As soon as I said the word sterilisation, I could see her whole body language change. There was no way this woman was prepared to help me. I got about 2 of my reasons out before she stopped me, focused on the last one and told me that the only way to "treat" pmdd was with hormone contraceptives so as I'd be taking these for the rest of my reproductive life, there's no requirement for sterilisation.
When I pointed out to her that changing contraceptives is one of the most likely times for accidental pregnancies, she just dismissed it and told me to stock up on pregnancy tests. Come again? The whole reason I want this is so I never have to have that sickening worry ever again!
I'm annoyed to admit it, but because I could see she wasn't budging, I told her that she's either have to give me a written letter for why she was rejecting me or she could pass my request on to a more understanding consultant. I said it pretty aggressively, and despite our masks, I think she realised we were at a bit of an impasse.
She reluctantly agreed to pass me on to another consultant for a "second opinion" and then gave me an unrequired lecture about being overweight and how that's bad for you. (So is having mental health issues, a global pandemic and the government equivalent of underbaked soufflé. But suprisingly she didn't consider that).
The whole ordeal was less than 25 minutes. So it means my parking was free.
My next move is to wait for the second referral where I'll ask to speak to someone who actually approves these kinds of cases and not someone who is going to ignore everything I have to say.
I was pretty upset and angry yesterday, but today I feel more confident in my resolve than ever before. Of course this decision is for me above anything, but it's going to be a nice fuck you to all those who told me no.
I realise there are no pretty pictures that go well with this rant, so instead please enjoy this image I took on a recent walk with my friend, which I look at often to bring me a sense of calm, and the thought that you cannot control what happens to you, you can only control your reactions to it.
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