I’ve spent a lot of time in doctors’ offices and hospitals, shivering on exam tables in my open-to-the-front gown, recording my medical history on multiple forms, having enough blood drawn in little glass tubes to satisfy a thirsty vampire.In my early 20s, I contracted a disease that doctors were unable to identify for years—in fact, for about a decade they thought nothing was wrong with me—but that nonetheless led to multiple complications, requiring a succession of surgeries, emergency-room visits, and ultimately (when tests finally showed something was wrong) trips to specialists for MRIs and lots more testing.Physicians at times were brusque and even hostile to us (or was I imagining it? The lighting was harsh, the food terrible, the rooms loud. In the hospital, I always felt like Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party: I had woken up in a world that seemed utterly logical to its inhabitants, but quite mad to me.In my own case, it took doctors a long time (roughly 15 years) to recognize exactly what was wrong with me.
Researchers calculate other survival statistics for specific cancer stages. It also describes whether and how far the cancer has spread. Example: The 5-year relative survival rate for early-stage cervical cancer is 92%.But the gap narrowed in recent years as heart attacks decreased in prevalence among men and increased in prevalence among women.A total of 2.5 per cent of men and 0.7 per cent of women reported a history of heart attack in 1988-1994, compared with 2.2 per cent of men and 1 per cent of women in 1999-2004.Along the way, my blood work was at times a little off, or my inflammation markers and white-blood-cell counts were slightly elevated, but nothing seemed definitive, other than some persistent anemia.“Everything’s probably okay,” the doctors would say, or “You have an idiopathic problem,” which is doctor-talk for “We don’t know why you suddenly have hives every day.” They never implied that I was crazy, or seeking attention, or any of the other things you sometimes hear from patients (especially female ones) who have sought a diagnosis for years on end.