Misogyny Meant Years of Misdiagnosis for This Poor Girl

I love the Golden Girls, and oddly enough, I was watching one of my favorite episodes the day before I started writing this post. The episode is the second of a two-parter wherein Dorothy—a middle-aged school teacher played by Bea Arthur—is searching desperately for a diagnosis to mysterious symptoms.

Sound familiar yet?

After being dismissed cruelly by the “amazing” Dr. Bud who told her that she was simply getting old and should “dye her hair,” Dorothy finally finds a doctor who takes the time to listen to her.

That doctor ultimately diagnoses her with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Ecstatic to have answers, Dorothy goes out to dinner to celebrate where she runs across Dr. Bud and proceeds to rip his prickish-self a new one in one of the greatest TV takedowns of all time.

Trust me, it’s beautiful from start to finish, but here’s the line I want to highlight today:

“You made me feel like a child, a fool. A neurotic who was wasting your precious time… I suspect had I’d been a man, I would have been taken a bit more seriously and not been told to go to a hairdresser.”

I thought about this line a lot when I was reading about 22-year-old Katie Davis. Katie was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a common form of dysautonomia. While a rare disease, it’s not actually all that rare, affecting 1 out of 100 teens—most of whom are female.

And there’s the rub.

Katie details her struggle for an accurate POTS diagnosis and during those 10 years, she heard more times than she could count that her symptoms were:

  • Hormones
  • Puberty
  • All in her head
  • Period
  • School fears

You get the picture.

And while many people with rare diseases are victims of misdiagnosis, women have to battle an additional layer of bias and condescension.

It infuriates me every time.

golden girls
Which is what we’d like to say to all those doctors… Source: giphy.com

At least in Katie’s case, she did get her diagnosis. Though she struggles with her POTS symptoms today, her husband has been a constant support system.

However, it shouldn’t just be friends and family supporting people with POTS—it should be the entire medical community too.

So if you’re a woman who feels dismissed, don’t give up. Don’t doubt yourself. Like Dorothy and Katie, one day you’ll get what your answers.

Kiki Jones

Kiki Jones

Kiki’s family loves to say, “People are like a baking project. At some point, they’re just done and they’re who they’re going to be.” Well, Kiki still has some baking to do, and she learns a lot from her loved ones living with chronic conditions, including mental illness and Behcet’s disease. With a BA in English, she’s using her skills to tell the stories of people like them.

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