What superpower would I choose that could not only assist me in my endeavor to enhance the medical treatment of people with out-of-the-ordinary medical issues, but a quality that would help me in circumstances that challenged me my entire life. I simply want my words to be believed.
For some unexplained reason, people have always questioned the truth of my words. To illustrate the extraordinary power of chronic disbelief, i offer some highlights:
At age 3, the 9-year-old girl that lived across the street from us would repetitively hurt me, with sticks, in my private areas. The words I owned at that age were not enough to convince my mom and grandma what was happening. So, I was told not to make things up about others – that it was “not nice to lie.”
As I was explaining to a couple of my mom’s friends how my cat knew how to unlatch our screen door and let himself out, they laughingly told my Mom, as if the little 8-year-old girl wasn’t standing right there in front of them, that I had an “overly active imagination” (adult code word for LIAR).
Shortly after I started attending my third school during my 5th grade year, I was forced to remain in a 3d grade classroom for half of a morning, and called a “liar” in front of the class as I sobbed, scared I was going to get in trouble for not being in my proper class. I tried repeatedly to explain I was really in the 5th grade. An office secretary found me when my 5 the grade teacher wondered where I had disappeared to after recess. Vindication!)
Then there are the numerous times I tried to explain to trusted elementary school teachers and aides that something terrible was happening to me and my Mom at home (just physical and sexual abuse, lots of gin-drinking, and that I was frightened to go home each afternoon…) only to be told that I should stop reading too many books.
When I graduated from high school at 16 and immediately started college, on one occasion I had to bring my mother into one of my college classes because the prof didn’t believe I should be in her class.
The trend of disbelief continued as I got older: I was consistently questioned about things that happened in certain situations at jobs, (which usually ended with me being blamed for something I never said or did); Medical professionals stared at me with raised eyebrows as I detailed the severe pain and prolonged bleeding during periods, or the unilateral swelling in certain joints, the mysterious rashes and fevers I cyclically experienced, the exquisitely painful swelling of one of my breasts that lasted six months…
Being doubted helped me to develop excellent research and investigation skills, taught me the importance of documentary evidence and the proper methods of gathering it, and forced me to hone my observational skills. However, living like this on a day-to-day basis is exhausting: I ALWAYS had to be tuned-in to the subtleties others’ actions, to consistently perform risk/reward assessments over the simplest of interactions, and literally toting around copious amounts of papers containing research – “evidence” of what what and is real and true.
What would I do with this superpower of “being believed?”
I would bring my believability to those that have the power to make and change health care policy, and to those that would be able to deliver my truths to greater numbers of people, worldwide. And because what I had to say was and is true, the quality of people’s lives would change. No longer would someone have to wait until their mysterious disease was end-stage, as the appropriate interventions would be made when their symptoms first revealed themselves.
Most of all, albeit selfish in the eyes of some, I would hope to meet the superhero with the ability to turn back time so that when I first brought evidence of my autoimmune disorder to the attention of my doctors, I was properly treated. Paramount, when I first related my bizarre, burning and deeply painful symptoms in my right buttock and hip to a orthopedic doctor, diagnostics beyond an x-ray would have revealed the genetic anomalies in my anatomy, and I would not have undergone 5 more surgeries than were necessary, and suffered the losses of careers, relationships and 15 years of life and serenity.
First, do no harm. Believe the patients.