Effects of health discrimination

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By: Christine King Contributing Writer

I recently encountered an ugly situation of which I was utterly unprepared and unfamiliar. While seeking a new place to live, I engaged in the regular searches; online, rental apps, etc. I arranged viewings and had lovely, in-person discussions with the owners or landlords.

On two occasions, I had appointments to sign a lease, only to be texted a few hours in advance, “the property was rented to someone else.” I found it peculiar, however, brushed it off as they may have found a better fit.

Nonetheless, my search ensued. To my shock and dismay, the properties mentioned above were relisted. I was disappointed and confused at the same time. Being an amateur detective, I learned why.

Discrimination is defined as: “The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people.” I was judged on my visual appearance; leg braces, on bad days the use of a walker, and sometimes merely looking like death warmed over. The feeling was visceral, haunting, mental, and more than uncomfortable. Worse, I didn’t understand how to process the experience.

Discrimination is a sensitive topic. To better understand, I reached out to the world and asked people to share situations in which they’ve experienced discrimination.

Renee D. Webb, an author from Memphis, TN, told me she was on the brink of losing her life from discrimination as a 25-year-old pregnant woman. She experienced acute tachycardia and GI issues during her pregnancy. Specialists and general doctors dismissed her time and again, blaming depression, youth, and hormones from the pregnancy

After the delivery of her child, her symptoms worsened. Renee quickly dropped to under 95 pounds and once again, began seeking answers.

By then, she’d been labeled as a hypochondriac, bi-polar, and as having borderline multiple personality disorder along with anxiety. Renee was referred to a psychiatrist. On the first visit, the psychiatrist prescribed Seroquel, a potent psychotropic drug. Following, the same psychiatrist prescribed six more psychiatric drugs to add to her “cocktail.”

After three months of waiting to see an endocrinologist, Renee was once again near death. However, this doctor administered proper testing and diagnosed her with Addison’s Disease. But something still wasn’t right. So she fought through the ugly feelings of judgment in her soul and turned to the internet. Renee found her second diagnosis, Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome Type 1 (APECED), an autoimmune system disease defined as multi endocrine system failure. It’s exceptionally rare, and there are only 500 cases in the world.

Through judgment and discrimination, Renee fought the system. She “lost” nine years of her life, almost died, and came close to losing her marriage.

She’s now under the care of the National Institute of Health and is feeling better. She told me, “I felt like a princess, validated, was taken seriously, and now have an open line of communication with my doctors,” she continued “Life is moving along well. I just turned 40; I’m writing novels with strong female leads who have chronic illnesses.” Her next book “Rhapsody in Blue City” is expected to be out in 2020.

Andry Laird, 29, an IT specialist, writer and father from, from Lufkin, TX, experienced discrimination in the workplace. As he approached the two-year mark with his employer, he began to have seizures. He took one week off from work to seek medical treatment. His body wouldn’t even allow him to type on a keyboard.

About one month after the incident, his boss called a meeting. Andry was told the company was downsizing and he was laid off. He supports his wife, two children, and his father, who lives with them. Andry told me, “The only way I could’ve managed to overcome this was the love and support of my wife. She was my rock through all of this.”

Andry wholeheartedly believes he was dismissed due to his medical status. He said, “I felt betrayed, as I’d given so much to the company.” Happily, he’s found another position and is managing his seizures. Andry says, “I learned from this experience that there are people dealing with struggles we know nothing about. It’s taught me that compassion is always important. And I’ve learned to look on the bright side even when everything looks grim.”

After all, isn’t all we can do? We continue to be our best selves, be militant about our health and wellbeing, do our jobs, and be kind to others. And when unfortunate experiences of discrimination occur, we somehow cope.

Christine King is a Medical Exercise Specialist, Fitness Expert, and Founder of YourBestFit. The health and wellness company has helped thousands of clients recover from injuries, look and feel better and improve their overall well-being.  Please visit Christine at www.ByChristineKing.com.