The frightening symptoms began in early March when a Portland Ails court in Oregon suspects it had caught a coronavirus from someone at work. More than four months later, she still lacks shortness of breath, pain in her lungs, and strange tingling in the calves.
However, doctors downplayed the Court’s concerns as her health problems persisted. At one point, her primary care doctor hinted that maybe she was just “stressed by the economy,” she said.
During a visit to the emergency center in May when she feared she might have a stroke or other neurological problem because, in addition to blur in her chest and numbness in her legs, she loses memory and bothers migraines, the doctor turned to look at her, the 35-year-old court said. Her problems were nothing more than acid reflux, he told her in a dismissive tone, plus a vitamin deficiency.
The doctor’s diagnosis hurt the court, a commercial make-up artist who felt that a male patient who sought emergency care with the same health concerns would have been taken more seriously.
“”; Gas lighting “is a word I use many times,” she said, using psychological tactics to make a person guess whether what they know is true. “I’m so sick and some people tell me it’s the fruit of my imagination. It really feels like a nightmare. “
The court is not alone. Across the country, many survivors of the symptoms of the coronavirus virus, especially women, face a double disappointment: debilitating health conditions that will not go away, and doctors who talk about the problem can be everyone.
Despite their vow not to harm, the decision of medical professionals may be inadvertently altered by deep-seated unconscious bias, experts say, and “hysterical female” patients have long been dangerous medical stereotypes.
Although there are no studies on how women are treated with coronavirus compared to men, previous studies have revealed a worrying pattern. Women who suffer from pain are more likely than men to receive sedatives instead of painkillers; women suffering from the same type of pain as men have to wait longer to see an ambulance; and women are even three times more likely than men to die of a heart attack due to unequal care.
In addition to gender, race and ethnicity are a major part of the health care provided by people: Data show that black patients with acute pain are 40 percent less likely to receive medication than white patients, and Latin American patients are 25 percent less likely than white patients. patients.
Although income, education, and other socio-economic factors explain some of the differences in the health status of minorities, experts believe that these reasons alone do not reflect all the differences — including significantly higher maternal mortality among black women in the United States. As one of the explanations, they cite the indirect bias of healthcare providers.
Dismissed as a “mental issue” or anxiety
Alice Valdés, 51, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a novelist who, along with her 19-year-old son Alexander, has been ill since receiving coronavirus in mid-March, doctors said her problems were a “mental problem” despite her very real physical complications of the disease, including emergency surgery to remove the gallbladder. According to her, the doctors “reduced me as a woman, reduced me as a Latvian”.
“No one is going to say they discriminate against you for those reasons,” she said. So what do I have to go for? Intuition, instinct, previous experience. Attitudes of certain service providers. That’s how they look at you. The way they don’t look at you. How they shrug you. “
Symptoms of control were severe burning of her gastrointestinal tract, unbearable pain in the sternum and upper back, and loss of appetite. She said doctors’ bias also affected her son’s treatment: When she was taken to the ambulance two months ago for her heartbeat, she said she was stunned when doctors automatically thought her heart rate should be increased because he was on drugs. which they never took.
Other surviving coronavirus viruses say it is difficult to determine whether their gender or race took into account the doctors ’response. They all know that the symptoms have been written off.
“No one is going to say they discriminate against you for those reasons.”
Adrienne Crenshaw, 38, of Houston, who is black, says she has not experienced explicit racism or sexism during the many trips to the emergency department she made after receiving the coronavirus in mid-June. She had aching around her heart, shocked high blood pressure, tingling in her arms and legs, and went to the hospital several times, worried that she had had a heart attack.
Despite her claim that her symptoms were not a consequence of anxiety, doctors prescribed anti-anxiety medication to Crenshaw, a bartender and former fitness contestant. Her father died of coronavirus on July 10, but she learned not to mention it to her medical providers because they usually make her think that her problems are a manifestation of grief and stress.
One trip earlier this month, she heard a doctor talk about her to her team with contempt, but she didn’t know why.
“He said, ‘The girl is perfectly normal, there’s nothing wrong with her,'” she said. “And in my mind I’m who I am,” I’m not perfect. I’m not just going to the ER to pick a room. “
Efforts are being made to help coronavirus “long-haired”
The entire medical community did not ignore these long-haired coronaviruses. Healthcare providers across the United States have been trying to figure out why they are not improving, and several post-COVID clinics have been set up across Europe for patients who have experienced neurological and physical difficulties after their first illness.
In recent weeks, to alleviate long haulage cases, top public health officials have acknowledged that the symptoms of COVID-19 can last for a long time. In a report on Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged that as many as a third of people who had never been sick enough in hospital were no better than three weeks after diagnosis. Meanwhile, the country’s largest infectious disease doctor, dr. Anthony Fauci said more research is needed on individuals who appear to be suffering from the virus.
Experts say there are many reasons why doctors don’t have solutions for patients suffering from protracted coronavirus complications, starting with the obvious: the virus hasn’t been spotted before, and they find out about it in real time.
Jessica Dine, director of Penn Medicine’s Advanced Lung Counseling Department and a pulmonologist who treats patients whose symptoms have not started, even if the clinician has not seen coronavirus-related symptoms before, there are ways to show patients that they are still hearing.
“The first step is to acknowledge that these symptoms are real,” said Dine, who, along with her colleagues, saw patients with persistent respiratory problems, as well as many of the problems reported by women interviewed in this story: tingling and numbness. in the arms and legs, fluctuations in heart rate and blood pressure, severe tiredness and dizziness.
“The frustrating thing for the patient and the doctor is that we don’t know if it will improve and when.”
“The frustrating thing for the patient and the doctor is that we don’t know if it will improve and when,” she said.
Carrianne Ekberg, 37, a social media consultant at Gig Harbor, Washington, said she did not receive such sensitivity from her healthcare providers. Her test was positive for coronavirus on April 1. She also still has days when she is so tired she can’t get out of bed. However, doctors said they could do nothing about her and suggested whether she caught another virus on the coronavirus or was suffering from anxiety.
“I know they’re probably experiencing a lot of stress and seeing a lot of patients, but it’s so easy to just write,‘ You’ll probably be fine, it seems normal, don’t worry about it, we’ll talk again in a few months, support me, ’” she said. “This is the type of response that I think COVID survivors want to survive, not ‘you have another virus’ or ‘you need to seek mental health care because you’re probably crazy.’
Avoid implicit bias
Meldana Simona, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director of the Center, usually draws up protocols for doctors to follow in order to make sure they do not miss the diagnosis in order to combat unconscious bias that could affect treatment. for the Transformation of Health Equality at Feinberg Medical School, Northwestern University. For example, when someone goes to the emergency department with chest pain, there is a comprehensive list of laboratory tests that need to be ordered and vital signs that need to be checked to make possible diagnoses.
With coronavirus and its long-term problems, there is not yet a protocol to follow, Simon said.
“We make that list and that difference because we literally fly by plane,” she said.
However, it is the patient’s right to ask the doctor why they came to the conclusion they made, or to ask what other diagnoses were rejected, she added.
Simona said they were not surprised that women with long-term symptoms of coronavirus found it difficult to make doctors trust them.
“There are long-term biases that are everywhere,” she said.
And while it’s hard when a coronavirus virus patient is already experiencing stress due to the disease, “we need to recognize that what the patient is telling us is real, and we need to try to figure out how best to deal with it,” she said.
Oregon makeup artist Court was reluctant to see doctors again when they rejected so many of her symptoms. Her situation was aggravated by the fact that she never received a positive COVID-19 test: When she first fell ill in March, a few days after close contact at work with a woman who sneezed and coughed and had just returned from Italy, then in a coronavirus hot spot, she the doctor repeatedly refused to give her the test, saying the state had no testing facilities. When the court decided to pay for one of the pockets of the private company a month later, the result was negative; she is still certain that she, as well as her husband and two children, still had coronavirus.
After that, the rest of Courto’s family recovered, but she lives in an unfamiliar state. On some days, she loses breath while doing household chores or experiences a fever that exceeds 100 F; the other days she feels good. This makes it difficult for her to commit to work. A runner, she no longer trains for a half marathon like she did before she got sick, and now feels like she’s even walking out of the woods with her family.
“I have to remind myself not to do that.”
But what saddened her most was that doctors doubted her so many times that she began to doubt herself. Her husband, a former Army combat medic, checked the reality, recalling how severe her symptoms were and how many nights she feared she would die sleeping.
“I have to remind myself I didn’t do that,” the court said.
She believes the ongoing political debate in the U.S. over coronavirus is making it even harder for patients to trust.
“Everyone is in such a state of questioning reality,” she said. “COVID has been recorded in this country since the beginning of the trip, and now, on an individual level, patients are being ignited with petrol.”