Why Anna Kendrick Was ‘Vulnerable and Terrified’ While Getting Treated for Kidney Stones

Anna Kendrick recently revealed that she was hospitalized for kidney stones. And, in a series of tweets, the actor wrote that she felt “vulnerable and terrified” when she went to the hospital in pain.

“I was worried that my pain would turn out to be ‘nothing serious’ or something that I should have been able to fight through,” she wrote, before thanking the members of her female medical team by name. “I’m so grateful to these women. Even if we only interacted for a moment, know that the attention and kindness you give your patients is so appreciated.”

Kendrick hasn’t provided an update on her condition or tweeted since.

It’s unfortunately common for people—especially women—to hesitate before seeking care.

Several women shared in the comments of Kendrick’s post that they also almost didn’t seek care or delayed getting medical care because they were worried their pain was nothing. “I have chronic pain, and didn’t realize it for 23 years, because it was ingrained in me that I was just weak and lazy,” one wrote. “I had my first bout of kidney stones earlier this month…and thought it to be ‘nothing serious’ until I was in agony for 4 days straight,” another said.

But waiting can have serious health repercussions.

For instance, a study published in the journal Circulation in 2015 conducted in-depth interviews with 30 women who had been hospitalized with a heart attack and found that the women often brushed off their symptoms as being due to something less serious. The study also found that other priorities took precedent over their health, and the women didn’t routinely go to their primary care physician to get screened for health issues.

But the health care system also “was not consistently responsive to them, resulting in delays in workup and diagnosis,” the study authors wrote. All of these factors combined help explain why women are more likely to die of heart attacks than men, the study authors said.

“Women want to believe that that they can power through things,” lead study author Judith Lichtman, Ph.D., M.P.H., department chair and associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, tells SELF. “They also don’t want to impose on other people. While doing this study, I commonly heard an issue of women not wanting to be wrong or waste anyone’s time.” Keep in mind that we’re talking about women who ended up having heart attacks here.

The tendency is likely the result of a few different factors.

Part of the hesitation may be based in practicality. Especially if you’re the primary caregiver in your home, it may be easy to put your priorities at the bottom of the list, Kathryn A. Boling, M.D., a primary care physician at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center, tells SELF.

But other times its based in the sexist history of medicine—and women’s own personal experiences with having their pain minimized or denied by health care providers. “Over the ages, doctors were often dismissive of women’s pain,” Dr. Boling says. However, she adds, that’s changed in recent years as more women have entered the medical field.

Women may also worry that they’re going to be judged or seen as stupid or weak for complaining, Marlisa Mann, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF. She says she sees this most often when women have pelvic pain. “They’re concerned about having to disclose their sexual history and have a fear of judgement from that,” Dr. Mann says.

There are some standard guidelines for when you should seek medical care—and you’re not overreacting for following them.

If you’re in pain and it’s not going away with over-the-counter pain relievers (like ibuprofen or acetaminophen), you should at least call your primary care physician, Dr. Boling says. The same is true if your pain is debilitating to the point where you have difficulty eating, drinking, getting up, and taking care of yourself like you normally would, Brett Etchebarne, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Michigan State University, tells SELF. “That is not normal and is a sign that you need medical attention,” he says. If you’re having excessive sweating, pain that’s persistent and comes with sweating, or a racing heartbeat, you also need to seek care, he adds.

Even if you don’t meet the above qualifications, trust that you know when something isn’t right with your own body. “You should trust your body and if something is very bothersome and out of the ordinary, it should be assessed as soon as possible,” Yury Khelemsky, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology, perioperative, and pain medicine and neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, tells SELF.

“Nobody likes to play the patient role and it’s hard for people when they’re in pain to understand exactly what the best thing to do is,” Mark Morocco, M.D., an emergency room physician at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, tells SELF. That’s why he recommends calling your primary care physician if you’re in pain, but you’re not sure whether it warrants a trip to the E.R., for example.

It may also help to remember that dismissive health care is not the norm: If you do end up seeing a doctor, the expectation is that you’ll be taken seriously, Medhat Mikhael, M.D., pain management specialist at the Spine Health Center at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SELF. “You should not be nervous about that at all,” he says. “About 99 percent of physicians will take that seriously and prescribe the appropriate treatment.”

If you feel like you’re getting brushed off, it’s crucial to advocate for yourself.

“It’s important to emphasize that you’ve tried to deal with this on your own and it’s far out of the realm of what you’ve experienced previously,” Dr. Etchebarne says. “You need to make it clear to your doctor that you’ve tried everything for pain management that you think is appropriate, and this is off the spectrum of what you’re used to.”

If you feel comfortable doing so, it may also help to be honest about how you’re feeling and simply call the doctor out if they’re not listening to you, David Maine, M.D., director of The Center for Interventional Pain Medicine at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, tells SELF. “Tell them if you’re not feeling satisfied with the care you’re given or that you’re worried that your provider hasn’t heard your entire history,” he says. “They should listen.”

On a broader level, Lichtman says it’s crucial to know your “health baseline” and to be aware of your family history. So, if you have a family history of heart disease and you suddenly start experiencing signs of a heart attack, you shouldn’t write them off due to the fact that you’re otherwise healthy. Along the same lines, if you go into the emergency room with weird pain and your blood pressure is higher or lower than normal—it’s useful to know that.

As a whole, doctors stress that most providers will take your pain seriously and should take the appropriate steps to help make it go away. And, if they don’t, it’s more than OK to get a second opinion. If your issue does turn out to be nothing serious, that’s OK, too—it’s better to get checked out when you’re concerned than to risk getting seriously ill because you let something slide.

“It’s not your job to decide that your pain is not life threatening,” Dr. Mann says. “That’s literally what we’re here for.”

This article was originally published on Self on 4th February 2019.