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Breaking The Mold: A Doctor's Illness Journey Changes Her Practice

Tuesday 29 August 2017

 

From Stanford University's Peninsula Press:

 

Cynthia Li
Cynthia Li
(Photo courtesy of Cynthia Li)
 

Breaking the mold: A doctor’s illness journey changes her practice

By Christina Ren
August 26, 2017
© 2017, Stanford University. Peninsula Press is a project of the Stanford Journalism Program.

Ten years ago, a young woman came to Dr. Cynthia Li, seeking treatment for fungal overgrowth causing chronic fatigue and digestive disorders. Drawing on years of internal medicine training, Li dismissed the patient’s self-diagnosis. “I thought it was probably some quackery she found on the internet,” she recalled. Little did Li realize that she, too, would soon turn to alternative solutions for her own mysterious medical condition, in a development that would change her approach to life and to medicine.

A twist of fate

Up until her thirties, Li was living every well-intentioned doctor’s dream. She worked at the San Francisco General Hospital and taught UCSF medical residents, volunteered with Doctors Without Borders at an HIV/AIDS clinic in rural China, lived in a classic Victorian-style house in San Francisco, exercised regularly and ate a mostly vegetarian, organic low-fat diet.

Not until the spring of 2007 as she was being rushed to the hospital, heart rate over 200, delirious and slipping out of consciousness, did she realize she was spiraling into an inexplicable chronic health crisis.

Li had experienced severe fatigue and dizziness after her first pregnancy, but brushed it off because she felt “well enough.” This time in 2007, while visiting her family in Beijing, she experienced the perfect storm – pollution exposure, stomach flu, unusual foods and a second pregnancy left her bedbound for six months after the emergency room visit and another two years housebound. Having endured 36-hour shifts, Li was no stranger to fatigue, but what she felt now was a completely different animal. “I couldn’t move my muscles and didn’t feel like I had the energy to draw my next breath,” she said.

 

Full article…

 


 

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