Brenda's Story

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Brenda Yeller

You and your doctor should be partners in your journey to the healthiest life for you. The partnership should include trusting that your doctor’s primary concern is maintaining or improving your health while you do everything you can to get the best results. Of course, that is hard to accomplish if your doctor is not listening to your concerns.

Many women across the state, especially women of color, do not feel their doctor has their best interests at heart. They have no comfort in the information they are receiving. Our anonymous interviewee is a survivor of medical neglect. We’ll refer to her as Brenda Yeller.

Shortly after getting over COVID, Brenda, a resident of the Mississippi Delta, was bombarded with constant fatigue. Everyday tasks like walking up the stairs became daunting. She decided to see her primary care doctor thinking there would be a quick and logical explanation and cure. However, she was met with a very unbothered demeanor and no answers. The doctor ordered blood work and quickly left the room, moving on with the rest of his day as if her feelings meant nothing.

She received a call from a nurse at her doctor’s office a few days later. The nurse explained that the doctor wanted Brenda to stop taking Lipitor because her glomerular filtration rate (GFR) went from 60 to 31, which shows a significant decline in kidney activity. Brenda knew African Americans represented one-third of the patients with kidney failure. It became a piercing worry as soon as she heard it, especially since she was not told why there was a sudden decline in her GFR. She had been taking Lipitor for quite some time. Why the sudden change in GFR activity?

It was also shocking to be told to stop taking Lipitor because it was prescribed for high cholesterol. She wondered how she would manage those high levels since she was not offered any substitutions for the prescription. Brenda had not received any real answers to her medical issues, which left her feeling she had no one to ask.

There were no follow-up calls to check on Brenda’s recovery or to make a follow-up appointment. When Brenda tried to call and schedule an appointment herself, her calls were never answered or returned. It was time to find a new primary care doctor. She wanted answers, but being brushed off deterred her from seeking additional medical help.

Although she eventually began to feel better after stopping the Lipitor, she still wasn’t back to her usual self. She had serious concerns about how her cholesterol levels would be affected, the plan to make her feel better, and what had caused her condition in the first place. She tried to make sense of everything on her own.

It took some time, but Brenda realized that managing her situation alone was not the best action. After all, her doctor was the problem, not her, and she should not have to risk her health. As of the date of this interview, Brenda has an appointment scheduled with a new doctor, who happens to be a Black woman. It’s unfortunate, but Brenda felt it was her only way to genuinely have a doctor see and acknowledge her as a patient worthy of explanation and care – a partner in health.