Letter 40: Letter from Tayyiaba
Your untimely passing has left a lasting impact on me, and I find myself deeply moved by the advocacy work your family has undertaken in your memory. Their commitment to raising awareness and instigating change is truly inspiring. I'm so sorry that it had to take your story, for people to speak up on this issue. I have personally felt unheard and even afraid in the medical setting, and it is a story I know many other women experience as well.
I was diagnosed with PCOS in college but was told nothing more than to "not worry about it" and was put on birth control to regulate my periods. I had so many questions, and at that point, I felt like no one was willing to hear me out; how was my PCOS related to other things happening in my life? My physical and mental health was declining, but no one wanted to make that connection for me or explain that they were all related. It wasn't until I stood up for myself and advocated for my health that I was able to get my health back under control and get off of birth control.
Every patient has the right to be heard and understand what's going on with their health. Looking back, I wish my doctor had explained more about PCOS and told me there were other options besides birth control. No one should have to go through their health journey alone, and we really need to build trust between patients and doctors. It's not automatic; we have to work for it.
I am a personal advocate for the accessibility of birth control, but the risks of any medications should be understood by the patients before agreeing to start any medication. This disconnect in medicine is what prevents women from being fully comfortable with their healthcare provider, and brings fear to the entire experience. The rise of prescription apps is a dangerous one, and the role the profit incentive has in giving out medications in this way can't be underscored. The physician-patient relationship cannot be replaced by one that is solely virtual and solely through text. It does not provide the nuance and health context one needs when discussing sensitive issues such as starting birth control.
I hope that we are able to learn from your story to make sure something like this does not happen again.