She went from bee doctor to bee doctor, with no answer as to why she is in so much pain each month. After a montage that literally involves a bunch of doctors pushing and pushing her, Tuca finally declares enough is enough. She says “my body is a galaxy, not just a planet”, and asks why specialists can’t just work together to figure out what’s wrong with her since her condition affects her whole body, not just one part or one system.
The response of the singing and dancing bees is both funny and sadly familiar. Basically, because the doctors aren’t able to find the cause of her pain, they just shrug their shoulders and tell her it’s probably anxiety, and maybe she should just lose weight. Tuca then insists on going to a real hospital that isn’t run by bees, but even there the tests they perform come back normal or inconclusive. In the end, Tuca ends the day defeated and still in pain, resigned to keep going through this push until she calms down and finds a few days or weeks of relief.
What Tuca goes through in this episode has become known as “medical gaslighting”. “Medical gaslighting” occurs when a patient – usually a woman, non-binary person, or person of color – is discharged or misdiagnosed by their doctor or other medical professional. It is not that the patient believes they know more than the doctor, but rather that they feel that their concerns are not addressed or taken seriously. When Tuca transitions from doctor to beekeeping doctor, each clears his concerns in a different way.
The first doctor Tuca sees tries to get him to rate his pain level, not with something quantifiable, but rather with a bunch of cartoon faces that have various expressions (and hats for some reason). Tuca quickly becomes confused and accidentally chooses one on the lower end of the pain scale. She is then almost instantly referred to an o-bee-gyn (the bee version of an obstetrical gynecologist, naturally) who refuses to acknowledge Tuca’s symptoms that have nothing to do with her reproductive system. Even when she is finally transferred to a regular hospital, no one tries to help her figure out what her next steps might be since her tests and scans reveal nothing conclusive.
Just as bees are quick to dismiss Tuca’s symptoms as psychosomatic or weight-related, so are real-world doctors. Patients sometimes have to go through months, or even years, which Tuca experiences before they find a doctor who can either help determine the cause of their symptoms or at the very least not be patronizing by admitting they don’t know. what is wrong. Research shows that misdiagnoses occur in one in seven visits to the clinician, mostly due to human error or lack of knowledge about certain conditions.
Although I’ve thankfully never had bees for doctors, they are a nifty representation of how the American healthcare system works. In large healthcare systems, doctors tend to be reserved with back-to-back patients, leaving them always busy and on the move, much like bees. Sometimes they feel like they’re trying to get a date as quickly as possible, not necessarily because they don’t care, but because they’re overwhelmed and don’t have time for it. would take to provide more personal care to their patients. Like the Hive Hospital, America’s healthcare system has its own absurd barriers to receiving care that leave patients suffering far longer than they should.