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If a female doctor gets treated like this, is there hope for any women?

The agonising pains came midway through Dr Rageshri Dhairyawan’s third cycle of IVF, ten years ago. “I felt as if a heavy metal shovel was scraping away at the lining of my abdomen,” she recalls. 
“It was like nothing I’d ever felt before,” she says. Her fear was ovarian torsion — “when the ovaries become so big from all the follicle stimulation that they twist on their stalk, which is excruciating and needs to be repaired surgically because the ovary becomes starved of oxygen.”

Her husband rushed her to A&E where she was given morphine, then admitted to a gynaecology ward. As a scan revealed no ovarian torsion, “It was thought the hormones had flared up my endometriosis.” 

Dhairyawan was in so much pain she couldn’t move, and yet she recalls being treated as though she was an attention-seeker “trying to get strong opioids through dishonest means” and “as a nuisance for pressing my buzzer”. It was as if, she says, “I didn’t have something they thought was very serious so why was I still there? I just remember not wanting to feel like more of a nuisance because I knew what being a nuisance on a ward can look like — I’d been a doctor for ten years.”

Dhairyawan’s husband demanded pain relief for her. She left hospital shaken. “It massively changed me,” she says. “The experience of not being listened to as a patient, not being taken seriously — it really shocked me. Because I thought, I’m a senior doctor, I know exactly how the NHS works, I know my medical condition, I now what to ask for. And I still can’t speak up and advocate for myself.”

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Source: The Times, 2 July 2024


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