Gender bias with physicians

I became ill in 1999. The fatigue was overwhelming. I saw a physician who after hearing my symptoms told me it was either depression or Lupus. The blood test came back with an ANA he said was borderline and that borderline is considered negative. His diagnosis was depression. My response was that I am a practicing licensed Mental Health Counselor; I know depression and this ain’t it. I’m just **** tired.

2 months later I see another physician in same practice; handed him a list of tests I insisted he do. He complied. Next thing I know the nurse calls telling me good news; “you’re getting better.” Great. What do I have? She tells me I have mono. I’m 40 and have no idea how I got it.

Late the next day the nurse calls telling me I have to come to the office now. Upon arrival they start taking blood for lab tests then tell me my ANA had increased a lot in 2 months. 3 days later the physician calls telling me I have Lupus. I did my research so I asked which panel was positive. Thyroid Peroxidase. I asked what that was and he said he didn’t know. Great. I look it up and make an appointment with the head of a University Medical Center. He confirmed my suspicion of Hasimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroiditis and actually had read the journals informing physicians them of important changes in diagnosing.

Over the next 10 years strange symptoms appear. My husband, an Occupational Therapist noticed them. He notes verbal problems; slowing cognitive processing; difficulty judging spacial distance; short term memory loss; tremor in right hand (non-parkinsons); and a host of other symptoms. He insists I see a doctor and get an MRI of brain. The MRI report noted 2 small anomalies the radiologist didn’t really know what they were but thought might be due to aging.

More symptoms appear and my spouse suspects MS. I return to physician. Pain; tingling; numbness; urinary & at times encopresis; vision problems; muscle spasms; tremors; cognitive decline are attributed to stress.

2 days later my husband was killed in an accident. After this, every physician attributes any and all symptoms to grief for 3 years. No MRI is done since 2011 yet every symptom strongly suggests MS. The symptoms get worse and I have to have assistance.

I was aware gender bias in mental health and medicine. I actually did my thesis on gender bias in mental health. I realize I have to find a Neurologist familiar with MS.

I wonder how many people with MS were misdiagnosed with some other maladies prior to their MS diagnosis; how many men compared to women; if so, what was the misdiagnosis; and is there an age & gender difference in the correct and incorrect diagnosis?

I’d like to know if a study has been done and hear the stories of people with MS who may have encountered gender bias or age bias.

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