As many of you know, I have been struggling with some health issues for about four years now. The main struggle has been accurately diagnosing what is wrong with me. If I were my husband, Robert, who is a healthy, middle-class, white man, there would have already been a diagnosis or, at the very least, a more stringent effort by his doctors to figure out what was wrong with him. He and I both know this because he has seen firsthand how quickly the medical profession has been willing to dismiss me and my symptoms. I am a Black woman of a particular age who is at least 30 pounds over the recommended weight for someone my age and height according to the infamous BMI. I am not the "dream patient" for most doctors. They see me and basically want to do everything possible to get me off their examining table and in front of their cashier paying money for their kid's college fund. So, actually, I guess I am their "Dream Patient." Get her in, get her out, make her pay.
First, I was told I had Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. Months later, Lupus was added to the list. But then, after a summer of testing at a clinic in Cleveland, I was told there was nothing wrong with me, other than maybe Fibromyalgia, and a need to lose weight and go to the gym. I avoided doctors at all cost after that, only going when the pain became too much, and only to get a steroid shot that would bring me a few days of relief. Other than that, I just made the best out of a bad situation. I knew something was wrong with me, but I didn’t have the power to fight the doctors or their test anymore.
About six months ago, the oncologist I was seeing to treat one of the symptoms related to autoimmune diseases, said to me, “Angela, I don’t know what autoimmune disease you have, but I know you have one of them or perhaps even one that we don’t have any history for right now.” She suggested I go see my family doctor again. which I did. Reluctantly. And the nurse practitioner happened to be on call that day. She looked at the rashes underneath my arms and my legs, and said, “Baby, that’s Lupus.” I cried. Not because I was afraid of the disease because I’ve seen some pretty difficult days related to it. No, I cried because she believed me. She didn’t say, “Lose 30 pounds and you’ll be fine or go to Planet fitness and you’ll be fine.” No, she validated what I’ve been knowing for a while. My body is sick. Period. It has good days, and bad days, but my body is not healthy, and it hasn't been for a while. I have learned to "fake the funk" but that's all I do. Which isn't nothing to sneeze at. I still work. I still write. I still do things in the community. But when I lay my head down at night, my body cries out at me for all that I do during the day to stress it.
So, I saw my new Rheumatologist a few weeks ago, and this is how 45 factors into my story. My doctor told me he wanted to put me on Hydroxychloroquine, but he needed to talk to me first. I will paraphrase, but it pretty much went like this. “I am hesitant to prescribe this medicine.” I said, “Because of the side effects?” He shook his head. “No, because I have patients who are abusing this medicine. Some are stockpiling it and not using it for their illness and others are giving it to family and friends who test positive for Covid-19 or who they fear will test positive.” I quickly chimed in: “You don’t have to worry about me. If 45 told me water was a necessity, I would start replacing it with dark liquor.” We both laughed, but then he got serious again. “I understand what you are saying, but the problem is, he has put this thought into people’s heads, and if someone sees their loved one dying of Covid-19, they will try anything, including giving them this drug. So, I need you to hear me. The only thing you need to use this drug for is your autoimmune disease. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. Understood?"
I said yes, of course, but I was completely pissed off that I had to sit through a lecture that was born out of the misinformation 45 has put out into the world. And then, it took days for my insurance company to approve the medication and a couple more days for the pharmacy to get it in stock. Tell me one time in history a sitting president has caused such chaos. Tell me one time in history where a sitting president acted like he was smarter than the health advisors. Oh, we have had some doozies in office. Don't get me wrong. But 45 takes it to a new and scary level. The FDA reports that over 100 people have died taking Hydroxychloriquine in an effort to treat Covid-19. We don't have to wonder where they got that idea from. "Dr. Michael Carome, director of the health research group at the patient advocacy group Public Citizen and a former FDA advisory committee member, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel President Donald Trump's "reckless promotion" of the drugs was partly to blame for the rise in adverse events."
Because of people misusing pain medicine, I am not able to get pain medicine without being treated like a drug addict, therefore, I just suffer in silence, and take Ibuprofen and hope it will at least knock the edge off the pain. Now, I have to do acrobatics to get a medicine that was not designed to do the things the president promised. His cavalier attitude has put thousands of people at risk. This medicine is deadly in the wrong hands. Hell, it’s deadly in the right hands. I am taking it because the pluses outweigh the minuses for me right now. But I am going to be closely monitored. My liver will be tested regularly. My eyes will be tested regularly. My kidneys and my heart will be tested regularly. My glucose levels will be tested regularly. BUT 45 didn’t tell the people all of that. He just gave people false hope and left it for them to figure out on their own.