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Woman says doctors dismissed appendicitis as ovarian cyst despite undergoing complete hysterectomy

Amanda Buschelman’s ovaries were removed 10 years earlier as part of her endometriosis treatment

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Monday 20 February 2023 18:35 GMT
Related: The facts about Ovarian Cancer

A woman recounted her frustrating experience being dismissed by doctors after she went to the emergency room with what appeared to be appendicitis.

Amanda Buschelman, 42, from Cincinnati, Ohio, shared the story on TikTok, where she goes by the username @amandabman.

In the video, Buschelman opens with: “In today’s episode of doctors should believe women...” She then goes on to explain how she went to her primary doctor in January after experiencing “extreme right-side abdominal pain”.

During the visit, Buschelman says her doctor instructed her to go to the emergency room because they suspected she had appendicitis.

When Buschelman sought help at the emergency room, she was told that it wasn’t appendicitis and actually a “cyst on her ovary”. She told both TikTok viewers and the emergency room doctor that it wasn’t possible for her to have a cyst on her ovary because she no longer has ovaries.

Buschelman says she had a complete hysterectomy 10 years ago to treat endometriosis.

After informing the doctor that she did not have ovaries, he allegedly argued with her and suggested that “maybe [she’d] just had [her] uterus removed”.

“I was like: ‘No, no, no. I was there the day they did it. They definitely took both of my ovaries,’” Buschelman told the doctor, who concluded that he didn’t know the cause of her pain and sent her home.

Buschelman told her TikTok viewers that she later looked at her medical chart online and saw that the doctor had described her as “anxious presenting”.

The mother-of-three said that after continuing to experience pain, she again called her primary doctor, who encouraged her to return to the emergency room because she “probably” had appendicitis, an inflammation of the appendix which can cause pain in the lower right abdomen and lead to a ruptured appendix, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Johns Hopkins Medicine also notes that “appendicitis is a medical emergency” because the appendix can burst as soon as 48 to 72 hours after you have symptoms.

“If you have symptoms, see a doctor right away to avoid more infection, which can be life-threatening,” Johns Hopkins Medicine writes.

As for how appendicitis is diagnosed, Johns Hopkins Medicine says doctors may take a blood test or urine test, an abdominal ultrasound, CT scan or MRI.

When she returned to the ER, Buschelman said she saw a different doctor who again claimed that she had a cyst on her ovary.

“They had to look it up. They looked up my history. Because he didn’t believe me that I didn’t have any ovaries,” the TikToker continued, before revealing that the doctor then ordered more scans. “And so, then he sees that what he thinks is a cyst on my ovaries is actually a tumour.”

Buschelman said the doctor encouraged her to meet with her ob-gyn to have the tumour removed.

“I’m thinking: ‘Oh my gosh, do I have cancer?’ Meanwhile, I’m in terrible pain,” she told Today.

Two weeks later, Buschelman underwent surgery with her ob-gyn to remove the tumour, at which point it was confirmed that she was suffering from appendicitis.

“She schedules me for surgery to get that little sucker out. So she took it out. And guess what? I had appendicitis the whole time,” Buschelman concluded her video. “And I had my appendix taken out along with that little tumour that isn’t an ovary… because I don’t have any of those.”

Buschelman’s video has since been viewed more than four million times, with the story prompting many viewers to share their own experiences being ignored or dismissed by medical professionals.

“I went to my ob-gyn because my IUD fell out. He told me that doesn’t happen. You should have seen his face when I pulled it out of my purse,” one person commented.

Another said: “I had an ER doctor tell me I’ve had a baby before. I have not. I have never even been pregnant. He argued with me about it. And told me I was lying.”

“The gaslighting of patients infuriates me. I’m so glad you shared,” someone else wrote.

In response to another viewer, who tried to defend the emergency room doctors on the basis that it was “good they got the tumour out,” Buschelman agreed that it was, but that the discovery shouldn’t have taken priority of her appendicitis.

“Isn’t it good that they got the tumour out though? Doctors are human, not perfect,” they wrote, to which she replied: “It is - but the immediate life-threatening issue was ignored and I was gaslit.”

In a follow-up video, the TikToker revealed that she’d had met with her ob-gyn post-op to discuss the surgery, at which point she’d learned that the tumour that had been removed was “absolutely nothing,” and that it was actually an “endometriosis implant” left over from her hysterectomy.

Buschelman’s ob-gyn also informed her during the follow-up that the spot had not been located where her ovaries would have been if they hadn’t been removed.

“So, it’s actually worse,” the TikToker added.

While reflecting on her own experience, and the similar experiences shared by countless women in her comments, Buschelman told Today that she wants these stories to “matter”.

“It’s really important that we not just focus on my story and that we talk about all of these other women in my comments that are just being ignored,” she said. “I want these other women’s stories to matter. I want them told.”

She also hopes that, by sharing her story, she may help other women: “What if the next woman leaves the doctor and doesn’t trust their own body? Or doesn’t follow up because they don’t know to?”

In the comments under her initial video, one woman said Buschelman’s story convinced her to seek out a second opinion from another doctor.

“You may never read this but I wanted to tell you this pushed me to find another gyno and I’m incredibly appreciative!!” they wrote.

In response to the comment, Buschelman shared her support for the woman’s decision, and encouraged her to continue trusting her gut and her body.

“I can’t tell you what this means to me. Trust your gut and trust your knowledge of YOUR body. I’m right behind you all the way,” she wrote.

Studies have found that women’s pain is more commonly dismissed by doctors, with the Journal of the American Heart Association reporting that women who visited emergency departments with chest pain waited 29 per cent longer than men to be evaluated for possible heart attacks, according to The Washington Post.

The Independent has contacted Buschelman for comment.

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