Wednesday, June 12, 2013
In the Kingdom of the Sick: An Interview with Laurie Edwards
"When patients are sick with symptoms that aren't easily managed or don't fit neatly into diagnostic boxes, this often opens up room for skepticism and doubt. I know this firsthand since it happened to me: when my lungs and immune system didn't respond the way doctors presumed they would, the doctors began to question me. Was I taking my medication properly? Was I just a stressed out, anxious college student and was that why I couldn't breathe? I was in the ICU with very low oxygen levels and these were the queries I received."
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The first doctor I saw in 1987 refused to believe I was physically ill (despite me reporting fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and other objective symptoms). He went through a long list of questions, eventually asking if I had any legal matters pending. I did have one minor issue where my lawyer was trying to find and serve the respondent, but the law was 100% in my favor, it was in the hands of a top lawyer, and I was so unconcerned about it that I'd completely forgotten about it until he asked the question.
Nonetheless, his reaction was "Aha! That's it! You have anxiety!" about something I wasn't worried about at all. But it gave him a way to blame me, so that he wouldn't have to spend any more time thinking about what might be the problem.