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When Health Disparities Persist: A Personal Experience

In November 2014, I purchased a sandwich at a worksite cafeteria, and my life changed. I became sick instantly with severe stomach pains that lasted for 7 months. Within that first month, I lost 20 pounds. My hair started falling out. My skin became dry and ashy. It was painful to walk, and I could no longer use the restroom.

I had to wait 6 weeks for an appointment with the GI doctor. I was not a new patient.

I had money to afford everything. I had health insurance. I was not taken seriously and was mistreated because of the color of my skin. This is a problem.

From January 2015 – May 2015, my life was hell, and I got sicker. I eventually had to stop working, but it was my PCP who did the paperwork for me to receive FML. The GI doctor who was treating me refused to.

Within the 5 months of the GI trying to figure out why I was so sick, I was sent to have multiple tests, ultrasounds, CT scans and MRIs done. I paid a copay every single time. I had an appointment with a copay to get results every single time. I was told by the GI doctor that African Americans were lactose intolerant and that was most likely my problem. I explained on more than one occasion that I did not like milk, ice cream or consume much dairy. The GI doctor still treated me for lactose intolerance, which was not the problem.

After spending a night in the ER due to green vomit, the ER doctor stated that my liver enzymes were elevated to 1,700. Because I had a GI doctor listed in the database, I was told that the GI doctor would take care of it. I received no help at the hospital. I was sent home sick and still in pain. I followed up with GI doctor, and he told me that my topical use of essential oils was the cause of my elevated liver enzymes. I was causing my problems. By this time I had already spent $1,200 in copays, and I spent most of my time in bed.

Feeling defeated, depressed and not able to tolerate food or water, I made an appointment with my PCP who saw me immediately. I told him everything that had been going on. He asked if my gallbladder had been checked… It had never been checked. I asked the GI doctor about it and was told that could not be the problem.

My PCP wrote a note with a test for me to have done and told me to give it to the GI doctor. And we wanted to know the results.

In June 2015 – July 2015, I had my gallbladder removed because it was functioning at 0%. I also had a hernia repair. The NEW GI doctor ran one test and saw that I had a large cyst. I had my left ovary removed and endometriosis removed from my low back. I was also sent to an Allergist. It was revealed that I was allergic to several fruits, vegetables and tree nuts. I was prescribed Epi-pens. I also had asthma and was prescribed inhalers.

I had money to afford everything. I had health insurance. I was not taken seriously and was mistreated because of the color of my skin. This is a problem.

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