‘Does he smoke or do drugs?’ My 19-year-old son was having heart attacks. He said no, but all she kept asking was, ‘Does he do drugs?’: Mom loses son after hospital malpractice, ‘This is systemic racism’

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“I don’t like to talk about this, but I feel it’s a perfect example of systematic racism.

My healthy, 19-year-old son told me he thought he was having a heart attack. He looked fine; I thought he was joking, but he said he was serious and he’d collapsed outside. Without another word, I grabbed my keys. I said, ‘Come on,’ and we went to the ER.

Courtesy of Lekesha Benson

They took him straight back and a doctor never came in to see him. As a woman who has sickle cell anemia, I have more experience than most with going to the hospital. I have NEVER only seen a nurse practitioner, but I was told that was normal, so it may be. She came in and asked a normal battery of questions, including if he smoked or did drugs. He answered, but then she asked him again if he smoked or did drugs.

I went off. I explained the situation to her. ‘I’m not sure if my 19-year-old ever smoked weed, but I can assure you that’s not what he was doing at home with his momma. So, can we move forward and find out why his chest hurts?’ I was FURIOUS. They took blood, did an EKG, and sent us home in a quick amount of time. But, when she came back in with his results, the first thing out of her mouth was, ‘Well, your toxicology screens were clear.’ Who was ever concerned about that!??

If you know my children, you know I have some of the most well-mannered, well-spoken, respectful young men on the planet. And if you know me as a parent, you know I am the opposite of all that when it comes to my children. I cut her off and asked about his other results. I was there the entire time, so I know they knew his entire medical history and mine and his father’s, and everything. Anyway, she shrugged, said his heart was healthier than hers and said she diagnosed him with anxiety without asking the first question about his feelings or anything to determine that he had anxiety. No one would help him.

I followed up with his Doctor because I felt that woman saw a young black man and assumed he did drugs. Now with two medical professionals stating he had anxiety and no cardiologist referral, we resumed life as normal, and then one day, while playing basketball with friends, his heart stopped.

After waiting 5 months for an autopsy, I am told his death was preventable had medical professionals ordered the correct tests the 1st time he showed a symptom. 19-year-olds rarely have heart attacks but can have heart defects. THE telltale sign was when he collapsed. A simple order for a test or referral to a cardiologist could’ve saved his life. Now, let’s rewind to the experience I had with a younger white child I know was smoking weed and went to the ER for chest pains. What did they do? They kept him overnight for observation.

Courtesy of Lekesha Benson

This is how systemic racism works. You’re ignored, dismissed, and overlooked. This is why more black women die giving birth. I suspect it’s one of the reasons black people are dying at higher rates from COVID.

Now let me move on to the rioting and looting that no one understands. The day my physician told me my son’s death was preventable and I should sue, I came home and sat in my car and thought about going up the road and blowing the hospital up. I cannot express to you how serious I am when I tell you I meant it. I wanted to burn it down.

Courtesy of Lekesha Benson

It was 5 p.m. and I walked into my house and went to bed to stop myself from going to jail. I spoke to a lawyer but the rage I felt at discussing this was so unhealthy, I chose to ignore it until I could do so without committing homicide. I still would gladly go to jail the day I see that woman again. Racism is more than people calling you the N-word.

It’s being pulled over in a nice car and getting asked whose car you’re driving. It’s being asked repeatedly about drugs you don’t use. It’s going to the doctor and making repeated complaints and never having life-saving tests done when your counterparts don’t complain and get them. It’s being ignored, dismissed, overlooked, and corrected when you’re correct! It’s being told things aren’t racist from people who’ve never experienced racism. It’s being told all lives matter when the country has shown you that your black one doesn’t matter to them. It’s having your entire history told on the news when you’re the victim, but not that of your killer. It’s when white kids shoot up schools, the news reporting them as being bullied, but black kids are thugs and go to jail until 21 for getting in a fight.

It’s all the things you don’t know happen because it will never happen to you, which is why we call it white privilege. Use it to help your friends who live without it, every day.”

Courtesy of Lekesha Benson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lekesha Benson. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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