“latch on to”

Every now and then I do a search for “post lyme (disease) syndrome” to see if any new research results or information has been found.  Sometimes I find something interesting and useful, like this, Anti-neural antibody reactivity in patients with a history of Lyme borreliosis and persistent symptoms.  Often, it’s just rehashings of the “chronic lyme” controversy, like this Lyme Disease Complicates Doctor-Patient Relationship.  Despite its promising title, the story is actually less about the complications of the doctor/patient relationship for people who experience symptoms after standard treatment and more about a particular infectious disease doctor’s take on non-standard treatment protocols (the continuing use of antibiotics), and a caution that patients “latch on to” information on the internet to their detriment.

I found the doctor’s portrayal of how patients end up thinking that they have lyme or continuing lyme rather insulting.  It’s a significantly oversimplified one size fits all approach that paints everyone who wonders if they have reasons to consider lyme, treatment refractory lyme, undiagnosed lyme, post lyme, or “chronic lyme” as a boob who believes the first thing they read on a forum thread.  He also completely skips over the part that many of us, with or without a history of a lyme diagnosis, experience:  the doctors who are dismissive, invalidating of our symptoms and the impact they have on our lives, and who sometimes are just horribly uninformed.  That does happen, and when it does, it makes it a lot harder for a patient to be guided by that doctor.  I believe it has a cumulative effect as well, depending on how bad or how many bad interactions like this a patient has with health care providers, it can create a sense of deep distrust.  All of this is skipped over in the article, not even acknowledged as an afterthought or footnote.

I blame the interviewer to some degree – if this was meant to be about how symptoms of unclear etiology get in the way of doctor/patient relationships, then he did a poor job in guiding the doctor to discuss that.  I can’t help thinking maybe it wasn’t meant to be this but this was the label the editors slapped on the interview after listening to the doctor go on about how stupid and/or gullible patients are.

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