Rachel Pearson, a resident physician who holds a doctorate from the Institute for the Medical Humanities, is the author of No Apparent Distress: A Doctor’s Coming of Age on the Front Lines of American Medicine (2018). Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Guardian, The Texas Observer, and The New York Times Book Review. (July 2018)
That chronic Lyme exists in the realm of experience doesn’t mean it isn’t real. When medicine does not acknowledge the reality of the subjective—the thick reality of lived experience—we fall laughably short in our efforts to serve patients. When it comes to tick-borne Lyme disease itself, we all need to expand our horizons. That suffering is real. It must be attended to. But to insist beyond all plausibility that one’s suffering is related to a tick bite is not feminist; it’s absurd. And to prey on suffering people who crave that certainty, offering them expensive, intensive, and dangerous treatments is worse than absurd; it’s cruel.