Friday, August 21, 2009

Confronting my prejudices

Holy cow. This article was written by a person suffering from almost every disease I have struggled to believe in... and on some of them I am now convinced, while others still seem fake-a-roo. The co-presence of all of these tough-to-diagnose and faddish illnesses in one person, though, really gave me a knee-jerk of rejection. Anyone with the money and determination to seek a diagnosis will eventually get a foggy one, right? Or a foggy ten? Or is ALL of this real and she has God and the Devil making bets about her, like Job? Gah, poor woman, either way.

If she had mentioned any one of these illnesses, I'd have tsked and said, "poor thing." But when it becomes two, my reaction is "wtf?" And when it becomes four, my emotional reaction is, "she needs another hobby."

Not all diseases are clean-cut things, detectable as if by a litmus test. Some of them are hard to diagnose collections of symptoms. Gratifyingly, human genome studies are now shedding light on some of them (such as Acute Intermittent Porphyria, from which my husband suffers -- or Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which I have.) Others, such as, oh, say, rosacea, are still thought to come from a myriad of causes and are merely a similar set of physiological changes and symptoms. Things get even more complicated with respect to mental illnesses.

Quibbling over where boundaries are drawn in language and thought is the foundation of my training as a literary critic and an anthropologist. It's inevitable that I react with skepticism to neat terminology. Yet I feel rather bad about it.

Nothing profound here, just a ramble.

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