Thursday, September 15, 2011

Will Dr. Watson get it right? Taking the prejudice out of diagnosing invisible chronic illness

                                                                         photo: News: Auto Express News

I was so excited when i got an alert on my blog about Dr. Watson. He'll get it right! He won't be prejudiced against the hundreds of patients suffering out there and who have been run over by the medical profession and told, "It is in your head."

I jumped up and did my pre ra happy dance which is kinda like the moon walk but with arms flapping to and fro (not really but doing it in my head is my modified way to celebrate now). Is this it? Is this the answer to getting treatment for those patients with autoimmune disorders that put them in terrible pain and with severe fatigue? Can they finally get a diagnoses rather then condemnation to suffer on.

Will we for once have a non prejudiced observing mind that will take in the facts, digest them through millions of nano bytes and graciously and without prejudice give out a diagnoses? I surely hope so! 

This week is National Chronic Illness Awareness Week. I want to shout it from the rooftops that we are here, we are chronically ill, we need for the medical community to rally for us, we need researches to help us find cures. We need for those that are still suffering and yet diagnosed to be put on the road to treatment, to join us as part of our unity. For these patients I worry the most. They are still left out in the dark. They are still alone, frightened and often made to feel inadequate and at fault for their illnesses. This is wrong. This is how I hope Dr. Watson can help.

Dr. Watson was featured on Jeopardy. He won!  Medical News Today wrote an article entitled: "Doctor" Watson to Inform Medical Decisions: Not Sherlock's Assistant, But A Computer. It is ironic that I who always believed that finding a doctor with compassion and empathy is the key to coping with chronic illness would support a computerized doctor. 

Having a doctor that will listen and work with you during your long journey is critical in being an empowered patient.   But unfortunately I also realize that so many of us can't find those compassionate doctors that will listen patiently, take notes, and search the archives of medical knowledge to help diagnose those perplexing symptoms. Dr. Watson will! He may not have the compassionate component of human interaction but for those patients that have been left in the dark for weeks, months and years….they won't care. They will be happy to just have a name, a diagnoses to help validate their suffering, their right of passage into the world of invisible chronic illness.  And more importantly, a passage into the world of treatment. Perhaps in this case, human prejudice is best left out of it.

And I do believe that is why so many are left undiagnosed and still suffer. We are humans after all. And that includes doctors, nurses and the mass of the medical community at large. We are what we learn. We are what we experience. And that is the very essence of the breeding grounds for prejudice.  The very causes for why so many doctors default to the it is in your head, you are to young to have these problems, you are working to hard,  you are depressed, you need to take off some weight, you need to learn to deal with it…the prejudices go on and on.

I never in a million years would have believed that I could have so much hope and faith in a non human being.  In a computer program that will diagnose patients objectively and without prejudice. Welcome home Dr. Watson! I am so looking forward to you heading up my team!

What about you? Would you be willing to be diagnosed by a computer?