Written by Ronetta Stokes for Chronic Migraine Awareness, Inc.

As I look back on last month and reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I think back to the,” I Have a Dream Speech”, the marches for equality, and all of the famous quotes. One of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote that stayed with me is “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane”. This is not the world he anticipated us to be living in. This world has too much pain, darkness, and sickness. We must come together and overcome any obstacles thrown our way. We must no longer sit in silence. Use your voice for good! Let them hear you in a positive and peaceful way!

Health care has not changed that much over the years. Minorities do not get the same treatment as their counterparts. Minorities pain is not valued nor respected. Minorities account for increase in hypertension, diabetes, and adding migraines to the never ending list. Health disparities is a real sadness we are still faced with in 2021. It’s the fact that minorities have been taught nobody will believe your pain. Tough it out, and you will be ok, or stop being lazy. This stigma plays out on a day-to-day basis as difficulties at work and home. If we say we are not feeling well or cannot complete a task we are looked at with a side glance or whispers from coworkers. Family may think we are trying to get out of things.

This brings me to my own health disparity I encountered at a headache specialist office. I went to this headache center because the reputation was well known. Upon entering the office, the lights were very bright, music blasting, and the smell of perfume was unbearable. I waited at the counter to be checked in while the receptionist was having a conversation. I continued to wait. Finally, she acknowledged me and took my information. I sat back down and waited to be called to the back. I met the doctor who went over my history and stated she will do Botox as I have not tried it yet. I asked for more information before trying this. She stated that she has done it several times with much success, Again I stated I need to review the information before decided. I felt as if she was not listening and rushing my time. I had many questions to ask but at that time I did not know how to advocate for myself. I left the office feeling defeated and upset. I had made another appointment the following month. When it came for my scheduled appointment I was ready with questions written down and was not going to leave without them being answered. I had the same interaction with the receptionist as the first visit. The receptionist informed me the doctor was running behind would I be willing to see the APRN. I stated I would not mind if it was not a long wait. The APRN called me back went over my history and asked what my thoughts were about Botox and we had a real conversation. She eased my fears and I gave Botox a try. When it was time for my next injection I had scheduled with the APRN as her demeanor was pleasant, caring, and empathic.  If we do not advocate for ourselves then we will. As minorities we must value our own healthcare as we do our lives. We must teach future generations that we are just as important as the person to our left or right.

Awareness, advocacy, and empowerment are all key to living a healthy lifestyle and gaining knowledge and understanding of ourselves and bring that understanding to the medical forefront.  

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