How Medical Gaslighting Harms Women With Rare Diseases

By Nafisa A. Iqbal: For Complete Post, Click Here…

I tried to raise my hand to my mouth, but it wouldn’t cooperate either. This is when I realized that both my arms had stopped working. They lay on the table in front of me like bags of wet sand. My legs became pillars attached firmly to the linoleum floor. My whole body was paralyzed. I would scream if I could.

It is a year of a hundred needles drawing blood from my veins, leaving nasty bruises, and being inside large buzzing machines before a kindly neurologist confirms the diagnosis: hypokalemic periodic paralysis, a rare ion channelopathy characterized by muscle weakness or paralysis when there is a fall in blood potassium levels.

At sixteen, I had yet to understand the concept of medical gaslighting, but I was not unfamiliar with it. In fact, the year of searching for answers for what was happening with my body was frequently responded to by doctors with incredulous looks, asserting I was searching for attention, and questions about my history of mental illness. One doctor asked me to step out of his office while he directed my mother to search my room for drugs.

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