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My pain is real and the medical system is broken, misogynoir is more pervasive than what is generally perceived, and Black women deserve to been seen.

By Jazmine Joyner I was an antisocial 7th grader who wanted nothing more than to read books and watch movies. Being the new kid at my middle school, I had no friends and spent most of my days in the library reading “Fear Street” books. My closest friend was the librarian Mrs. Stanley, a tiny white woman with coke bottle glasses and a blonde pageboy haircut. I would eat lunch with her in that library, talk about books, and what I was learning in class. I felt truly invisible in my school and in an effort to appease my father (who loved sports and thought I should try out for some) and to make some friends, I tried out for the track and field team. Practices would start off with running and conditioning, something I particularly hated. Cardio has never been my strong suit, and back then I struggled to even finish a mile. It was during one of my first practices that I felt a sharp throbbing pain in my lower left abdomen. It felt like I was being burned and stabbed at the same time—it took the breath from my lungs.The pain would often show up as soon as I started running and I would fall to my knees on that dead grass, gasping for air and holding my side. I told my coach about the pain I was experiencing, and she said to me it was just cramps. I had recently started having periods so I had no idea what was right and what was wrong when it came to menstrual pain. So when she said it was cramps I just took her word for it, she had to have been right. Right? Turns out she was so very wrong. The pain just got worse and it wasn’t just when I ran or was physically active, it happened all day, every day. I would stand up to go to my next class and the razor blade like “cramp” would spring to life and send me abruptly back down into my seat. I would walk in between passing periods bent over like a praying mantis, clenching my teeth, sweating like crazy, trying my hardest to get through the day. I went to see my doctor and when I voiced my concerns that the cramps where constant even when I wasn’t on my period, she told me that I was overreacting and that it was normal. So I took Motrin and continued to push through the daily pain. One night I woke up vomiting, the cramps had reached a level I can only describe as full blown labor contractions (which I later learned was very similar, if not worse to the end stages of contractions). I was crying, rocking, and folded like a lawn chair. I couldn’t keep anything down. I was bleeding through every pad and tampon I put on, and I can remember thinking I was dying, that this was it I was going to bleed to death and die. I built up the strength to hobble to my mother's room. It was around 3:00 am, and I was the only one who was awake in the house. I knocked on her door, walked in, and she took one look at me and leapt out of bed.   
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