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Ask Me About My Uterus

A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain

By Abby Norman
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Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman

Ask Me About My Uterus (2018) explores one woman’s struggle with endometriosis. Shining a light on the devastating impact of this little-understood disease, these blinks also explore the sexism of the healthcare industry, which often compounds patients’ suffering. Drawing on personal experience and delving into scientific research, Ask Me About My Uterus explores the painful intersection of sickness and inequality.

Key idea 1 of 8

Awful, unexplained pain changed Abby Norman’s life overnight.

Abby Norman was just 19 years old when the onset of excruciating pain changed her life forever. A student at New York’s Sarah Lawrence College with a prestigious scholarship, her days were packed with literature, dance classes and friends. But one morning in 2010, dreadful pain – unexplained and unbearable – would rip her new life away from her. 

That fateful morning began like any other. Abby got out of bed as usual and headed to the shower. 

Still only half awake, she climbed into the shower and turned on the faucet. But the moment the water hit her body, she knew something was terribly wrong. Suddenly, it felt like someone was stabbing a knife through her midsection. She desperately patted down her body with her hand, trying to determine the source of the pain. She quickly realized it was everywhere, though not anywhere her hands could touch. The agony radiated out from deep within her body. 

As she stood there, trying not to move, the stabbing sensations changed into a terrible ache that rolled over her abdomen and pelvis before snaking around to the base of her spine. Overcome with dizziness and nausea, she managed to stagger back to her room. 

During that short but agonizing trip from the bathroom to her dorm room, Abby had little idea that she was also heading toward a new future as a chronically ill person. And almost immediately, this mysterious affliction began to destroy her life. 

The rest of the day passed in a blur of pain and fitful sleep. So did the day after that. Lying down comfortably was out of the question, as was sitting up. Eating was impossible too. When the weekend came, Abby went to her part-time job and collapsed as she made the coffee. 

Finally, after a week of agony, she sought medical help. Why did it take her so long? Well, like many Americans, Abby did not have adequate health insurance. While her college friends could stay on their parents’ insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act, Abby was totally estranged from her mother and father. Financially independent and without family help, Abby was terrified of racking up medical debts. Nonetheless, after seven days, her pain eclipsed her fears about money, and she dragged herself to the hospital. 

But the doctors wouldn’t provide the answers for which she was looking, as we’ll see in the next blink.

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