Before I launch into this post, I’d like to thank all the gracious, intelligent, and hard-working practitioners who have helped me over the years. You have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated!
Have you ever cringed at one of those “Lyrica” commercials that make fibromyalgia look like a total joke? You can just see it now…the sad music plays in the background as some pitiful-looking middle aged lady rubs her arm in mild pain and gently sighs.
That poor commercial-lady has come down with a bad case of “bored housewife syndrome.” Or at least that’s what they make it look like.
Terms like “chronic fatigue syndrome” translates to a lot of people (including doctors) as “lazy person syndrome.” When in reality, misunderstood and poorly-named conditions like chronic fatigue can be life changing and downright disabling in many cases.
When was the last time you heard of a man being diagnosed with one of these dinky conditions like “chronic fatigue syndrome” or “fibromyalgia”? Women have got to be making this stuff up, right? Or at least exaggerating their symptoms…right?!
This is absolutely not to shame or overlook men with these types of chronic diseases (in truth, I feel great empathy for chronically ill guys who feel weak and emasculated because of it).
But the point is: women are disproportionately struck by the more under-researched chronic illnesses and our medical system is not equipped to deal with them. The result? Women getting shamed, blamed, and shrugged off at the doctor’s office.
As a young woman who grew up with several chronic, mystery illnesses, I’ve had my fair share of doctors look down their noses at me in disbelief as I rattled of a 3-page list of symptoms. Over the years I’ve noticed that young females, in particular, tend to have their health problems chalked up to one of several specific issues: eating disorders, stress, anxiety, and “women’s issues” (aka. periods and pregnancy). And if their health struggles don’t fall into one of those categories then they are often told that their symptoms are psychiatric or somatic in nature.
Continue reading “Are doctors sexist? (Exploring the phenomenon of the young, sick female)”