A survivor’s journey to advocate for quality of care in women

Randi White
Randi White

Randi White wrote a letter in the notes section of her phone, for fear she might die while giving birth. She pleaded, “If I hemorrhage at all after birth, make sure they get blood work and a CT SCAN IMMEDIATELY. Don’t let them take more than a couple hours to do so…PLEASE FIGHT FOR ME.”

It all began in 2011, when Randi bled for four months straight. She was working at a radio station when she collapsed from the pain in her lower abdomen. Upon visiting the first of many doctors, Randi found that they were quick to dismiss her symptoms, performing procedures, attributing her feelings to being overweight, possibly diabetic, but leaving her with thoughts that she should continue to search for a medical professional who might want to dig deeper to confirm her suspicions.

About a year later, Randi received a new job opportunity, which meant finding a new doctor in a new state. She was hopeful, and ready to become healthy again, but after her appointment, felt defeated and disappointed in the bedside manner experience. Medicines would remedy her symptoms for a short time, but they always returned.

After years of research, referrals, and repetitive storytelling, she was eventually diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome also known as PCOS. Previous doctors shared that she would never be able to conceive, but her current doctor said otherwise. He took the time to listen, perform blood work, provide options and support, something she’d never experienced previously.

It was only a year after her relieving experience that she found out she was pregnant.

“My baby was 5 days late, so I had to be induced,” Randi shared, “I was terrified when doctors said things weren’t going well and I would need to have a C-section. I was in extreme amounts of pain, and nurses told me ’You’ll be OK.’ I heard the anesthesiologist say ‘oops’ and completely broke down. I was afraid.”

Randi’s continued experiences of being dismissed, disregarded, and ignored in medical settings came washing over her at a time in which she should have been feeling overwhelmed with love and joy. She read about the effects of having high blood pressure during pregnancy, possibilities of having heart disease, the maternal death rates in America and felt as though she may be added to that increasingly devastating number.

“There is nothing more terrifying than people having your life in their hands, and you feel they do not care,” Randi said.

Through a second pregnancy, Randi said she continued to experience the neglect and negativity during doctor’s visits and in the delivery room. Asking questions, receiving no answers, or answers to something she never asked about, Randi prayed for a doctor like the one who’d successfully diagnosed her, but the nurses assigned to her weren’t the gentlest or caring, she said.

Now living in Hampton Roads, Virginia, Randi attended the Hampton Roads Go Red for Women Luncheon held on National Wear Red Day and garnered her company’s support of the campaign early on. After learning of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement and the maternal health initiative, Randi knew she wanted to be involved.

“I know I’m not alone in what I’ve had to go through as a woman and more specifically a black woman. Through my trials, I have learned the importance of advocating for yourself but also finding someone to advocate for you,” Randi said.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of new moms. The Go Red for Women movement prioritizes ensuring all women are aware, helping women take charge of their health, engaging more women in STEM and research careers, and removing barriers women face to good health. Today, Randi supports the movement and finds passion in sharing her story to help others in their own health journeys.