Enough

I've never been one to back down on something I believed in. And after my experience giving birth to Baby G in 2011...I vowed I would never again keep quiet about something for the sake of keeping the peace. I wanted to make sure what happened to me wouldn't ever happen to another woman; that if an abuse survivor requested a caesarean birth, she'd get one, without having to plead or beg or tell her story to an endless series of hospital staff for evaluation. I initially complained through the official hospital process, and that ended up with an apology from the Head of Obstetrics...but they said I "slipped though the cracks". There was no indication anyone would be held accountable, no sign anything would change. So after some time and consideration, I decided to lodge a complaint through the Health Care Complaints Commission.

What a mistake.

Dealing with the HCCC has been an experience almost as painful and degrading as the initial treatment in hospital. I'd been warned they were fairly useless, but good Christ in heavens above. Their initial "investigation" consisted of asking the hospital had they done anything wrong. The hospital claimed no, they had not (contrary to what they told me in my initial complaint). That was good enough for the HCCC. Case closed.

Worst of all, though, was hearing that the nurse at the heart of my complaint - who refused me a c-section, when she had no right to do so, instead of referring me on - was now denying I'd ever asked her that. That was a punch in the guts; I exclaimed "she's lying!" and had to end the call, sobbing. I couldn't get over that. Initially, I would have been satisfied with an apology from her (a real apology; not "I'm sorry you're upset" but "I am sorry I did the wrong thing"). Now I wanted justice; she should be suspended for this. I read case after case of previous decisions by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Nurses have been reprimanded for far less than leaving a patient verging on suicide and then lying about it. I appealed the HCCC decision, and I had one thing on my side. A letter from the hospital, dating back to my initial complaint, where plainly stated I had asked for a c-section when I first saw her. Written proof. I've got her now.

The HCCC didn't care. They didn't ask to see my written evidence that the nurse was lying. It is not their role to investigate, and whilst it is very regrettable that I am still distressed, the level of care was not below that which is expected.

Once I'd gotten over my shock, grief turned to fury. I could see I would have a bigger fight on my hands here. Not only the hospital, but the HCCC itself now, for what is the point of a regulatory body if it does nothing about these kinds of things. I must do this for all the others. I started a petition, made an appointment to see my MP, wrote again to the HCCC...

But as the petition failed to take off like I'd hoped and I actually came under attack from pro-natural birthers (can you believe it?! Against elective caesareans, don't have one), I wasn't strong and fighting. I was crying constantly and feeling helpless and frustrated. A short trip away helped me reach a decision. Enough. I give up. I can't do this any more. I wanted to help other women. I wanted to make sure it couldn't happen to anyone else. But, as they say, fit your own air mask first. Putting myself on the line like this, baring my past and soul to strangers to get passed off with bureaucratese, was driving me to the very brink of despair. Each letter from the HCCC sent me into hours of misery. Every signature my petition didn't get was like a message that what happened to me was okay, it didn't matter. I was carrying this with me all the time, and I have to let it go. Maybe when I'm feeling stronger down the track, I'll pursue this more (I think I'll bypass the bureaucracy this time and just straight-up sue). But by letting go, I'm refusing these people permission to upset me any more. Yes, it niggles that I'm letting that nurse get away with it, but I reason that a nurse who has this effect on a patient and lies to cover it up has to realise they're a bit shit as a health practitioner and a person, and that gives me peace for the time being.

Anyway, to mark this decision, I chopped off a foot of hair and dyed the rest bright pinky red.

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