Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Doctors

It's Lyme Disease awareness month, and since so many of my readers deal with Lyme and dozens of other similar, horrific illnesses, I want to bring awareness to chronic invisible illness in general. I will be writing posts weekly for the rest of the month to help combat common misconceptions about people living with chronic invisible illness.

I hope many of you can share these posts on your social media to raise awareness about the hidden, grueling, and isolating battles caused by Lyme, CFS, CIRS, Fibromyalgia, POTS and so many more insidious illnesses.

One of the Health Warrior's most difficult challenges is navigating the common, noisy misconceptions others have about their illnesses. Today, I want to address the pervasive fallacy that a doctor's inability to diagnose or effectively treat an illness is an indication that the illness is not real.

Because we live in a world of advanced medicine, it can be easy to assume doctors have all the answers to our medical quandaries. And yet, just a few decades ago scientists referred to the immune system as "the black box" because there was so little known about it.

Think back to the year the Health Warrior you know got sick, and then google "medical advances in [enter the few years after they got sick]" and you'll find a profusion of breathtaking medical discoveries from that time period. Then search for medical discoveries in the few years after that period, and, if you can, search for medical discoveries in the few years after that. The point? Medical practices are always changing with new discoveries, and there is still an extraordinary amount we need to discover about the human body and our environment before we can assign infallibility to our doctors. 

For example, it's only been in the last several years that scientists have effectively dismantled previous theories of the brain having fixed hardware. They are still exploring the implications of newly-discovered neuroplasticity for healing chronic disease.

Other relevant gaps in medical research include confusion about the nature of the link between the Epstein Barr virus and a constellation of diseases; uncertainty about why 40% of patients infected with bacteria causing Lyme disease do not recover after the standard round of antibiotics; and the need for a cure for something as commonplace as a virus.

The medical community is a tremendous resource, without which I would not have seen incredible improvement in my health. Moreover, some of the best cheerleaders on my long journey of diagnosing and treating my illness were doctors. And yet, it is helpful when a Health Warrior's community acknowledges that the mysterious, idiosyncratic complexities of the body, when paired with the large gaps in medical research, make it entirely possible, perhaps even plausible, that your Health Warriors' undiagnosed challenges stem from real illness, despite a doctor's inability to diagnose or effectively treat.


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