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True stories about pain inequity​​

In July 2023, 5 members of the Black community shared their experiences with pain inequity. Their stories are different, but they all have one thing in common: no one believed their pain was real.

Photo of roundtable discussion with patients Derek, Deidra, and Inaayah
Photo of patient Etisyai with handwriting excerpts over image background

ETISYAI (eh-TIH-see-uh)

Since the age of 14, Etisyai’s concerns about painful periods were ignored. Often, she was told her pain wasn’t that bad, or she could “handle it.” It took an emergency surgery at the age of 24 to remove a pelvic mass that had been growing for years for doctors to finally listen...


Photo of patient Mark with handwriting excerpts over image background


Mark suffered from exhaustion but was dismissed by multiple healthcare providers who stereotyped him as a strong Black man. He begged for blood work anyway believing something was wrong. The result? A diagnosis of pericarditis, a life-threatening heart condition...


Photo of patient Inaayah with handwriting excerpts over image background

INAAYAH (ee-NY-uh)

Inaayah has spent her life managing her sickle cell anemia. Yet, when she sought help to deal with pain that was a “10 out of 10”, her doctor denied her the amount of medication she knew she needed, claiming her pain wasn’t that severe. She felt confused, sad, defeated, and discriminated against…


Photo of patient Deidra with handwriting excerpts over image background


Deidra is a mother of five and knew what “normal” felt like after pregnancy. When Deidra had severe postpartum chest pains, her many calls for help were dismissed. She felt like her nurse was ignoring her because it was assumed she was seeking drugs. The reality of the situation; Deidra was having a heart attack…

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Photo of patient Derek with handwriting excerpts over image background


Derek went to the ER for a migraine, a condition he had been dealing with his entire life, but his pain was dismissed. It took vomiting on his doctor for her to believe him. When she finally gave him medication, she assumed he could handle a high dosage because of his large stature. He proceeded to drive home, which resulted in a near-death experience…

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