The Business of Being Sick

The Business of Being Sick

Recently, Lady Gaga was in the news for the cancellation of her Rio tour. Hospitalized for the uncontrolled pain she suffers from fibromyalgia. I should interject here that I am a huge fan of Lady Gaga, Mother Monster, for both her obvious artistic talents and the awareness she brings to fibromyalgia. She has been incredibly candid about her illness, the pain she suffers daily from it and she has shown what can yet be accomplished while battling chronic illness. This is not about Lady Gaga, but about the hardship most families endure when a member becomes chronically sick. Even seasonal illness can make life difficult for families, who may not want to go to work and possibly infect co-workers, but who don’t have the luxury of sick-pay and have bills to pay so must work. If you think that’s all, it’s not. An already stressful situation is compounded with anxiety and worry when we’re confronted with a medical community that doesn’t know or understand how to treat us.

Treatment of Invisible Illness

Invisible illness can cover a host of diseases of a chronic nature, not only fibromyalgia. But because Lady Gaga is often in the headlines it felt like a good place to start and bring some understanding. Fibromyalgia happens to be the most common of invisible illnesses to be dismissed by doctors. There is an especially deep rift between male and female doctors, with women generally feeling like their symptoms are ignored, because of an archaic attitude of doctors toward female pain. Example, In 2007, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania carried out a study that examined patients in their Emergency Department. They found that when patients were complaining of the same level of severe abdominal pain, men waited an average of 49 minutes before being treated, while women were forced to wait for an average of 65 minutes. That’s a difference of 16 minutes — and when you’re in pain, that’s a lot. That same study reported that women are less likely than men to receive analgesics, and when they did, less likely to be given opioids.” If that were not enough, men were more likely “than women to be referred to specialty pain clinics after discussing pain with their doctor.” [1]I believe this “gender-gap” is partly male ego and partly intellectual ego, that gives a physician this idea that he knows best. But, knowing best and thinking you know my body better than I do, are two very different things and one that can make a huge difference in my treatment. I know I focus mostly on male doctors, but in my personal experience, I’ve actually encountered more female doctors who were as dismissive of my pain as the men.

It feels like when a doctor is confronted with a complaint from a woman that he doesn’t understand or feels like it is something grabbed from the internet and WebMD, that it gets chalked up to: 1.) something which requires antidepressants. You can’t possibly hurt as much as you say you do; therefore, I am prescribing these antidepressants because it’s all in your head. 2.) You’re about 20lbs overweight, so I think you should lose that weight and you will feel like your old self again. Oh, if you are having trouble losing weight, eat from smaller plates. (I had a P.A. tell me this once. 3.) It’s anxiety. Take up meditation and yoga. Meanwhile, women struggle day-to-day to keep their illness hidden so co-workers won’t find out and possibly shame them; they struggle to be at work every day so their boss won’t fire them and they struggle on the home-front even with those closest to them who don’t understand the illness and may not even believe them. Fibromyalgia may be the most infamous of chronic illnesses that are not perceived as a “real” disease, but there are others which are not understood and frankly, most do not understand being chronically ill. They expect that with doctors and medication that you will return to how you were prior to diagnosis- eventually. When eventually never happens, they don’t understand and I don’t blame them. I certainly didn’t until it was me.

Not to be left out of this are men, whose struggle with fibromyalgia often remains silent (as with other chronic illness/pain), choosing to suffer alone because they won’t tolerate the shame of a “woman’s illness”, or an illness associated with being lazy, as is the case with fibromyalgia. They fear being ostracized from friends and family and also worry about being terminated from their job. If that weren’t enough, they must also bear the burden of the idea of what it is to be a strong man in American society, and such a man doesn’t complain about his pain or illness.

Sick Days in the Workplace

There are many of us with fibromyalgia, or other chronic illnesses, who do not have the luxury of calling in sick to work and taking off a few weeks or months until we recover. Many employees do not have paid sick leave and those that do may have a limited amount or, may be encouraged through some employer incentive, to not take sick leave and earn a bonus instead. Statistics were difficult to find, but what I was able to discover is this: “The average number of sick days taken in one year in the United States is 5.2. This figure includes 3.9 days taken for the worker’s own illnesses and 1.3 days taken to care for a sick family member.” [2] Now, if you subtract these figures, you get 1.3 sick days that are personal which makes me wonder how many people are dragging themselves to work when they should be home and not contaminating the work place? It also makes me want to applaud those “133 million, approximately 40% of Americans” who have chronic illness, who are able to make it to work and who don’t use many sick days. [3]I know that for me, as this is the only reference I have, was calling out at least 3x a month and that is without those days when I went to work and had a seizure which they would send me home early. As it was, I was written up by management for my seizures (which they had seen) when I had them at home and could not drive into work safely. Without public transportation to shuttle me to work, there was no way for me to get there and it still makes me angry that I was penalized for my illness. However, I understand a lot more clearly why even when people have a cold or something more severe, they choose to come into work. Businesses are not very understanding over employee’s missing work.

So how many people walk around sick among us? Well, I can give you statistics, even though I wager this survey might not be accurate. Why? Because I think we all know that it’s unfair to go work sick and possibly infect an entire office with germs, but at the same time, we all have people to provide for and when our place of employment isn’t understanding in these situations, then you gotta do what you gotta do. I believe that even if these surveys were anonymous, personal guilt might have prompted some people to not answer as truthfully. That being said, here are some numbers about the sick walking among us. 82% of employees are more likely to go to work with a common cold. Only 19% come to work with flu or fever. “In a recent survey of 1000 full-time employees, 62% said they did not go to work contagious. But that still leaves a worrying number of employees walking around sick. 38% to be exact.” [4]

The average employee needs to work. So much so that they come in to work sick even though they know that they could be infecting any number of co-workers. Among these co-workers are people like me, who have compromised immune systems, and for which a cold is devastating with more aches and pains on top of what we already suffer and could lay us up in bed for a few weeks, as opposed to a few days, and be potentially life-threatening depending on the chronic illness. We also have the same kind of employers as you, who are trying to run a business and for whom absent employees may mean loss of money. But while you may be able to cruise into work sick, we can’t and but end up being the ones fired because we are missing more work. Or, we drag ourselves into work because we have our responsibilities too and quite possibly weaken ourselves to the point of total collapse. Now, here is where I tie all this stream of consciousness thinking together.

Conclusion

In my first paragraph where I talk about Lady Gaga, it is to bring up the point that most of us can neither take a few weeks off to recuperate, nor can we waltz into a hospital and receive pain medicine to control our pain. There is a clear difference in what the average population are able to access and what they can’t. I understand that the entertainment business is considerably different and so it may be perfectly within reason to take a few weeks off, and that the financial differences also make that possible, but my point here is should employees be penalized for being sick? I know the argument here is that it’s a business and that a business is not hiring you to miss work and that there are 1,500 people out there who could replace someone who is missing work continuously, but, then, how are the sick expected to earn a living? Are we a segment of the population that should just die out? Let survival of the fittest play out? I vehemently disagree with that. We are a percentage of the population who are limited in what our bodies can do but our brains remain vibrant and vigorous. It seems unfair that so many of us are forced into disability because so many of the -abled jobs out there are inaccessible to us and the jobs we could do remotely, are few and far between. I am of the opinion that as a society, we cannot claim accessibility for all, until all jobs are accessible to all.

Lastly, when talking about the gender-bias in health care, towards women, the implications were not solely between doctor and patient. The gender-bias in health care is much more far reaching than that. An example of this: U.S. regulations requiring that both sexes be included in human clinical trials were introduced 20 years ago. Yet in 2006, only 41 percent of people in U.S. trials were women, up from 9 percent in 1970, the researchers said. Yet sex influences many common conditions, including heart diseases, autoimmune diseases and asthma. For animal studies, an international review in 2011 and 2012 found that 22 percent did not state the sex of the animals. Of those that did, 80 percent used only males and 3 percent both sexes.” [5] If we have research doctors conducting studies that are not inclusive of female subjects, and which the analyses of these one-sided studies are simply blanketed to cover both, just changing male pronouns to female, you are not getting a complete picture. And when you are trying to apply data from one sex to both, and using this information to treat female patients, you are not going to treat them effectively. There is evidence to show that, “A person’s sex has a significant impact on the course and severity of many common diseases, and the consequential side-effects of treatments—which are being missed,” Natasha Karp, who co-led the study, wrote in the journal Nature Communications. [http://fortune.com/2017/06/26/sexual-bias-medical-research/] Doctors are only as good as the education they receive, and if they are receiving education based on studies that only have half the data, well, no wonder there may be symptoms relayed by women that they don’t recognize, because they were never educated in it. I do know that more is being done to correct this problem, but it won’t come fast enough for some. Until then, I think we need to advocate for ourselves and educate the doctors that will listen or find those that will.


[1] Greene, L. (2018). The Gender Pain Gap: Why Doctors Routinely Ignore Women’s Pain – Role Reboot. [online] Role Reboot. Available at: http://www.rolereboot.org/culture-and-politics/details/2018-09-the-gender-pain-gap-why-doctors-routinely-ignore-womens-pain/ [Accessed 23 May 2019].

[2] Reference. (2019). What Is the National Average for Sick Days Taken? [online] Available at: https://www.reference.com/business-finance/national-average-sick-days-taken-83a9752bfe23c6d1 [Accessed 23 May 2019].

[3] Reference. (2019). What Is the National Average for Sick Days Taken? [online] Available at: https://www.reference.com/business-finance/national-average-sick-days-taken-83a9752bfe23c6d1 [Accessed 23 May 2019].

[4] Torres, M. (2018). Too many of us go to work while sick. [online] Available at: https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/too-many-of-us-go-to-work-while-sick [Accessed 23 May 2019].

[5] Fortune. (2017). http://fortune.com. [online] Available at: http://fortune.com/2017/06/26/sexual-bias-medical-research [Accessed 23 May 2019].

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Authored by: Liza Zoellick

Liza is a chronic pain warrior from Houston who has been chronicling her journey through chronic pain and illness on her blog: http://lovekarmafood.com. She is a frequent and valued contributor to the National Pain Report.

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Teresa Kenny

Great article, and Lady Gaga, get well soon, if there is such a thing. Thanks for your voice in helping US who are not well known that suffer with you.
Glad you were able to receive hospital care, but what about the rest of us?
Not your fault, LG, but the medical profession refuses to see us as people who need IN patient treatment from time to time, just to manage the pain. Horrific pain, I might add, that despite pain meds available,cant begin to manage this kind of nightmare pain that has overtaken my life. I have had fibro for 20 years, however as I am now 68, it seems to be getting worse, no relief insight.. Its depressing, demoralizing, agonizing frightening, and overwhelming.
My family has just about given up on me.

Memorial Day has just passed. I spent the 3 day weekend in bed, in tears and pain, unable to interact with my loving husband or even make a phone call, let alone attend a family function.
It often feels as if my life is over, I can do very little each day.

As we go forward in 2019, let us pray for the medical community to stop turning a blind eye to their CPP and act as if WE are making it up.
Please get on board to help people get whatever treatment they may need to stabilize/recover at whatever point they are at.
If its IN PATIENT treatment, Like LG was able to get, DO it.

Dont leave us out here to suffer/die alone.
You took an oath to DO NO HARM.
That does not mean do nothing.

Please help us.

Arthur Rachel Carson started environmental movement. DDT which is a insecticide was sprayed on crops but the Overflow of it went to people’s homes, Creeks , livestock. With her research show that it was a link to cancer. She herself had found lumps in her breast & went to her physician they did a biopsy & he told her it was not cancer. when in fact it had metastasize but back in that day 1950s The Physician would give the news to a husband BC they felt a woman couldn’t handle it. Even though she wasn’t married. She sought a second opinion & found out the truth. There was a cranberry contamination of insecticides & it actually showed presidents eating cranberries bc it had a huge effect on the cranberry business. President’s trying to convince the people to eat poisonous cranberries BC lobbyist for the farmers failed multimillion-dollar business. The pesticide industry was holding back information to benefit themselves. The benevolence of Corporations & the authority of science Rachel Carson challenged all those things. Her book is called Silent Spring. My point is there are corporations saying opiates are the worst drug ever BC they want to lie to the people that are not in chronic pain to be on their side. What has come up just as fast as the opiates has been taken away marijuana.seems convenient that a lot of states are legalizing it. I’m not against marijuana but it just seems too convenient. Another thing that seems on a rapid rise is psychiatry, that seems very convenient as well.

FST

A thoughtful and well-written article reminding us yet again of the complexities of Fibromyalgia. I was both glad and sad that Gaga was hospitalized: glad because finally someone apparently listened and believed her pain. Sad because the invisible illness has felled a famous person at the outset of a major tour.

Believe us now?

Stacie Wagner

Thank you for a well researched and articulate article. I cannot tell you how often I am dismissed because I’m a woman.

Alan Edwards

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia recently and have undiagnosed sources of neuropathic pain. Along with back damage, stroke damage, and brain damage, my fate is certain to be one of suffering.
Doctors and pharmacists are my main nemesis. I am verbally attacked nearly every other day just for having intractable illnesses and needing a few of the-should-not -exist-controlled substances gossiped about at cvs. If you are healthy and want to be rich, pharmacy is your sure bet. Read the nauseating Pharmacy Times for the most skewed reporting on algia and the rudeness of customers (not chronically ill patients). A pharmacist can treat the non-lady gagas like manure. Lady Gaga has no guarantee of being treated well at the pharmacy or doctor. 300 million net worth and infinite talent may be as unimpressive as extremely painful fibromyalgia.
If hearts and minds of these “professionals” including the government acronyms are not changed by God, I pray for my suffering to end soon. My intractable pain began post-op twice because a surgeon and pharmacist did not treat the severe wounds and pain of surgery immediately with morphine and a nerve block while in the hospital at age 7 and 10. Cerebral Palsy surgery was wrongly seen as harmless. Nor is fibromyalgia. It can be a life stopper

Good luck Lady Liza and Gaga!

Having suffered from a female dominated ‘invisible illness’ (intractable migraine) for 40+ years, then (probable) fibro for over 20, I’m wayyyy too familiar with the gender biases in medicine. I’ve had (male) neurologists tell me that migraines do not exist –but that cluster headaches are real (those are about 80+% male). I’ve had them tell me that it’s all in my head, that I lie about headaches to avoid sex, etc etc all the classic ignorant idiocies. And I’ve been hit by some of those idiocies by female docs, too; at times it’s as if they have to prove they’re even more macho dismissive than the male docs.

I worked with hideous migraines for decades, until I got too many other pain conditions added on to be able to work. It was awful –trying to work with agony, & now trying to survive in penury. Now it very strongly appears that society wants me to do the decent thing & kill myself off, stop being a parasite, & it’s refusing me to have the (legal) effective medication that would enable me to be at least somewhat functional. What a country.

Very well said Liza! I enjoyed reading every word. However there are many still unanswered perspectives such as why are the numbers of diseases and chronic illnesses increasing among the world’s populous? Why are clinicians, researchers and the pharmaceuticals more interested in drug treatments rather than cures or discovering the root causes of these conditions thus enabling superior preventive measures?

Iatrogenic harm is real and probably the leading cause of many who chronically suffer today. When you’re sick to begin with, its harder to tell if a treatment or intervention made you even sicker. Thus any worsening or new symptoms are usually blamed on the patient’s intrinsic condition and not on the treatments. Everything from botched or unapproved surgeries & procedures, overmedicating patients, off-label drug use, prescription error, serious interactions, to just plain old incompetence, the medical industry has sadly become primarily profit driven with little to no emphasis on preventative harm. The “Standard of Care” is consistently being modified and thus compromised in order to maximize profits with little to no concern for compounding the patient’s original condition.

Time is money, and patients like us are the means to that end, thus creating a customer base for life in some cases, which in turn demands even newer treatments for the harm previously done. I’m not implying that doctors intended for it to be this way, it evolved by design because there’s really little to no accountability.

So maybe the title of your piece should read: The Business That’s Possibly Making You Sicker & Keeping It That Way

LRH

At 5:30am this past Christmas Eve, my husband’s appendix ruptured. He knew something was wrong with his appendix when he looked up his symptoms on the internet. Unfortunately, because he was in the ER too long his appendix ruptured in the ER but the surgeon didn’t discover it until they were in surgery. By that time, he had already become septic. If they waited 10 minutes longer he would’ve died. He was in the hospital for almost 5 days and he was in pain. My husband doesn’t know pain, had never gone to the ER for himself, never gets sick, so all this was new to him. When he got home I asked him if they gave him a prescription for pain and they did. He had received a written prescription for five days worth of Oxycodone 5/325. I couldn’t believe it. Over the past two years, every woman I know who had surgery or a procedure that causes horrific pain were told to take Tylenol. I’ve been living in Chronic Pain for 23 years. I continued to work the first 10 years until my third of five spine surgeries. That’s when I became disabled from the Chronic Pain in my spine as well as diagnosed with Fibromyalgia a few months later as a result of that spine surgery. I have Late Stage Lyme Disease that continues to destroy my muscles, soft tissue and skeletal structure from head to toe and have just been diagnosed with CRPS. He watches me suffer on many days that turn into weeks that turn into months in bed and has no idea how bad the pain can be until the morning of Christmas Eve. I told him to never, ever forget that pain the next time he doesn’t understand why walking is so excruciating, or why I don’t want to get out of bed because it’s where I’m most comfortable as I watch my right leg, left arm and hands start turning green, purple, blue and red. He forgot the pain.

Meg Taylor

Morgan Freeman has also been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

Just like many people report they’ve gone undiagnosed for many years & then finally by some miracle they’re diagnosed. Not only r women report as its anxiety or depression but just stuck w/labels of any kind to get you out of the office or if you are diagnosed w/ a label usually has to do with whatever that Physicians license is so you can be a repeat customer bc it is a business not necessarily in your best interest but theirs. Also, there are medications besides opiates that are push heavily by the manufacturer through the doctor’s office. And if you do your homework & you find it’s not a very good medication or the manufacturers rebranded it to treat something off label bc wasn’t a good medication for what it was supposed to be used for to make more money. Physicians get upset that you’re not willing to try it for the issues that you’re having bc u bring data shows that it doesn’t live up to the advertisement. & bc u have drug sensitivity to a lot of medications. You find yourself dismissed from the practice BC you’re not willing just to swallow Hook Line & Sinker BC you know your body. It is your risk not theirs to whether you live with the issue or try the medication and live with the side effects it causes or the slim chance that it will work. Your body no longer belongs to you anymore it seems you become property of that physician. I kn a woman who gets mentally tested every yr bc of her age & Medicare pays for this Thru Obama Care Act even though she is mentally fine but she afraid the doctor will drop her if she doesn’t go along. This is why no one ever gets well & the cost for healthcare in America is so high. I have been a test rabbit for too long. Ended up with other health conditions BC of it that are life-threatening. Also u might take medications from two or three different Physicians that interact with each other but no physician is going to tell you that BC doesn’t want to interfere with the other Physicians business.

Starlight

I am a type 2 diabetic wth neuropathy, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, gastroparesis, osteoarthritis and 3 years post heart attack. Add to that an all over body itch that I’ve had almost 20 years, and sleep apnea. I am always tired. After I’m up for a few hours I’m ready for a nap. I can do 1-2 loads of laundry, but I’ve stopped even trying to wash my dishes. My itch and arthritis pain are getting worse. I am just now able to financially see my specialists. But, if you think I expect any help from them you would be wrong. Where are the doctors that care about their patients? All my blood tests come back negative so there must not be anything wrong with me. Except, my SED rate and my C reactive protein is high. I’m 67 years old. At some point I will die. I wonder what they could treat me with right now that could make my quality of life a little bit better if they only would.

We need all celeberties +people in powerful positions with horrible painful medicial conditions to stand up +speak out on behalf of this horrible atrousity that’s being done to chrionic pain patients!? Dening adiquit pain care +life giving+life saving pain medicine to americians in horrible pain+pushed to suicide by the thousands !??stand up famous people +help us make a difference+stop the cruelty of the highest order period!?!?

Gary;
Speaking of gender bias…!! “The work ethic among female teams is not as professional or dedicated as male teams.”
Perhaps all those lazy, unprofessional broads should just get back into the kitchen where they belong.

Jeanette French

yes, well written, thanks, shared on line, and hope it helps someone get it.

nana

Chronic Fatigue is thought to be lazy as well. But when they dx my stomach upside down in my chest my surgeon asked: Have you been exhausted?

Too quick to rule-out what is really causing these diseases they jump on one title and then neglect to treat it.

#invisableDisease

Jody Hoffman

PLEASE READ!If you have a disability and it is diagnosed by a medical doctor there’s a lot of things that you can do to protect your job. First, your doctor needs to write work restrictions for you that will allow you to take days off as needed, next you have to request additional time off after the FMLA is exhausted. The ADA act protects you from being fired or written up for anything connected to your disability. Check with the HR department, if you have medical insurance through your employer chances are you also have short term and long term disability insurance, it’s almost a guarantee, it will cover 80% of your normal weekly pay. This is something every person should know about but very few do. I know all of this because I was diagnosed with a terminal lung disease in 2008 & I continued to work until 2010. FMLA covers 6 weeks of leave is all & even though I had a terminal disease I ran out the FMLA time, I knew that on Monday morning I was going to be fired & I found the Americans with disabilities act. By 10pm Sunday night I sent an email to my supervisor and to HR, Monday morning I was sitting behind closed doors and they told me that I saved my butt because I was being fired. I was able to take off as much time as I need to and be paid 80% of my wages and they picked up my premiums for insurance because of my disability. Look into it for God’s sake because you must have it all in writing to be legal & guess what your employer is not obligated to inform you this.

Louis Ogden

Gary, I live in Central, VA and have not noticed this trend. My family doc is female and she’s a good doc. I’ve elected to stay with her for 25 years. What do you mean by nurses are becoming practitioners and, more to the point, what difference does it make?

Rosalind Rivera

I totally agree with Liza’s findings. I want to add and this is from personal experiences that men while considered by most, the stronger gender are in fact completely infantile when experiencing pain on any level. They whine and complain endlessly while women who are suffering from the exact same illness deal with it much more effectively and courageously. The fact is that we are stronger, much stronger and able to deal with those illnesses and their side effects considerably better. It is so true also that when we do complain to our doctors, labels are quickly applied. I have several serious conditions which include heart desease Spinal Stenosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and a few other ailments which I will not include. As you can imagine, I take quite a number of medications, including insufficient dosages of pain medication just to feel as if I’m somewhat alive and not merely just existing. I was in terrible pain one day and while listening to two doctors having a discussion about me, I clearly heard one say how I could get up and walk and that my problem was Pharmacology. So, there was absolutely nothing wrong with me and that I was just looking for drugs in the way of pain medication.
My son took me to another hospital as I was being discharged from this hospital with the Pharmacology diagnosis. Mind you I had lost all sensation as well as the use of my arms and legs.
At the second hospital, I was rushed into surgery with the Spinal Stenosis condemning me to being a quadrapeligic for the rest of my life. Today I can walk and use my hands again though I do have severe Neuropathy in both and yes, I still suffer with chronic pain each and every second of my life and due to the cuts in pain medications, I am now confined to my home and to my bed for 99% of the time.

Cindy

Fibro brain fog is also a huge problem even when the physical pain is manageable.

I wish there was a way to transfer these symptoms to doctors so they could feel them personally.

Excellent article. I, too, balked when I saw that Lady Gaga (who I also respect and admire, not only for her abilities but for her willingness to speak out about her disability, which has likely helped all of us suffering from invisible illness and chronic pain, more than we will ever know) was in the hospital receiving treatment for her pain, not because I thought she shouldn’t have received such treatment, but because we *should* all be taken seriously able to receive apt treatment for the pain we endure. You know as well as I that going to a hospital with 10+ pain isn’t an option for any but the extremely wealthy/famous, even if you have physical proof-in-hand of your debilitating pain (MRI’s, records of years of treatment, etc.), it’s just not going to get you taken seriously–especially if you are a woman. You are going to be turned right back around and sent out the door at best, declared drug seeking if you aren’t careful. I have been in pain so severe I couldn’t stop vomiting and dry heaving from the intensity and I knew better than to seek help at a hospital. It’s doubly true in the current political climate.
Since you mentioned fibromyalgia (something my computer doesn’t even recognize as a word.) I want to point out one more way women’s pain is marginalized in conjunction with this diagnosis: no matter what kind of pain you present with, no matter your symptoms, etc. there seem to be doctors who will tell you it’s fibromyalgia so then they can sort of shrug and tell you to get more exercise/take antidepressants/gabapentins. Several doctors tried this before (and even after) finding my actual diagnosis…and I think there’s still something lurking, though it’s not fibromyalgia…time and time again when I ask them to match my symptoms to fibro, there’s a zero match, yet it keeps getting written in my file, and I’m convinced it’s because I am a female in pain. So it *must* be fibromyalgia. It’s just another way the medical field dismisses legitimate pain.

Martha

So well written Liza! Thank you for succinctly stating the gender / pain bias, not to mention the glaring lack of transparency & gender imbalance in medical research. Kudos.
There is an appalling lack of pain mgt. taught to medical students to date.
I heartily agree with you re: Drs. may ‘know’ bodies better than I do…but I know MY body better than they. They need to listen to their patients, esp. when their patients are consistent with their symptoms.

Marsha

Lisa you said “an illness associated with being lazy, as is the case with fibromyalgia.” Those words are so important for me and fibromyalgia patients to hear. I have beaten myself up mentally about “being too lazy to vacuum that dirty floor ” or begging off from a lunch with friends etc. at the last minute because I just didn’t have the stamina. But there’s no injury or illness that shows why, no xray or lab report that explains why. So even I have doubts if it’s in my head. Thank you for those words, they relieve the guilt and help me not to feel like I’m lazy. I just don’t have the energy.

Jeanette

And many fibromyalgia patients can no longer work. I was a nurse, 2nd career only 4 years in, I had my pre-retire years set. Work Close to home, options…. I think when they figure out the objective evidence of the disease, many healthcare pros will feel guilt fow downplaying our disease.
In fact, recently I seen an article comparing MS with fibro saying MS is an auto immune attacking cells and Fibro is not. Quite a bold statement considering they don’t really know yet.

Phyllis Bobay

What about the people who suffer from BII? We are in pain on a daily bases and most Drs. do not believe in BII. They just put you through testing for the symptoms, then refer you to a psychiatrist. Where is the fairness in this. Drs. need to be educated about BII.
Breast implant Illness.

Gary Raymond

The reverse trend is occurring in Central Virginia. Male physicians are disappearing! Female nurses are becoming practitioners. The work ethic among female teams is not as professional or dedicated as male teams. Home and school are distracting them. “The old man can wait.”