Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Having 17cm Scissors Left in You After an Opeartion

Last night on tv I saw a shocking report about a woman, Pat Skinner, who had 17cm surgical scissors left inside her after colon surgery, and had to put up with it for 18 months until the problem was diagnosed. She's now trying to take legal action, and is -- surprisingly, you'd think -- having troubles doing so. The story has been covered by various news sources, including TheAustralian, Canada.com and TheTimesOfIndia.
The transcript of the show I watched is available at the 7:30 Report Website.

The thing that really struck a nerve with me was how much trouble she had getting people to belive she was in real pain and that there was something wrong. But it's not just her - so many people over the years have had real, serious problems, and yet people thought they were just making it up. Worse than just having to put up with the problem, they were treated like fools for having it. Fibromyalgia is one example
(unfortunately, I couldn't find the excellent site on it I'd read a few years ago).

Here's an except from the report I saw on tv:

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Pat Skinner complained to her specialist and her GP.

She couldn't stand, sit or lie down without being in extreme pain.

PAT SKINNER: I did complain and I was told, you know, it takes time.

This was the thing I kept hearing.

It takes time to recover.

I think they thought that maybe I was making a fuss.

I think, yeah.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: You felt guilty about that?

PAT SKINNER: Yeah, I think they felt, well, you know, you're going through depression.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Pat Skinner was put on anti-depressants and given counselling which was particularly galling given that she had worked as a professional grief counsellor herself.


DON SKINNER: My wife instigated the X-ray.

That's the amazing thing that in all this time, not one person would suggest the fundamental thing like an X-ray.
As you can see, this sort of thing really gets to me! I strikes a particularly strong personal nerve because I've had really chronic health problems (related to my jaw alignment) that went undiagnosed for many years, and the problems that have come from it -- the extent of which no one really belives. In my view, most people try to pigeonhole you into whatever categories they're used to seeing, and if they can't, then either you're making it up or its your fault. People have a really strong tendancy to blame things on your personality, rather than even accept that it could be something you don't have any control over.

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