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Health Journalist of the Year: Runner-up

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“Doctor Seeking Cure” A short Article about a Doctor’s Experience with the Disease

Liora, Berlin Brandenburg International School, Germany

D. C.K, the woman sitting in front of me, with her deep gaze, has a very moving story. In the background, I observe the gentle streams in the lake from the window front of the living room. The apartment she lives in is very pretty and spacious. But Dr. C.K is bound to it, to the point where it is a form of imprisonment.

Growing up in a poor village as part of a minority in Varto, Turkey, her intelligence allowed her to get a scholarship, attend a private school and get a good education. At the age of 17 she moved to Berlin, Germany where she studied Medicine and successfully became the first of her siblings to finish university.

However, in the background, a growing issue has been lurking. Since she was a child, she was experiencing episodes of discomfort and fatigue after a common cold or a viral infection. For months at a time, she would feel very fatigued, had a lack of appetite, muscle pains, sensitivity to light, and could not go to school, even if it was her only wish in the world. These symptoms would still recede soon enough as she was young, but as time went on these episodes only worsened. Over time, with possible parasitic infections and many vaccines which she reacted badly to, gave her severe digestive issues, preventing her from eating most foods.

In the year 2012, after an influenza vaccine, Dr. C.K experienced another major episode of fatigue as her condition dramatically worsened. She became bedridden, experiencing a sort of semi-coma. Here, her pilgrimage for a diagnosis began. She was falsely diagnosed by her own colleagues with depression and burnout, stigmatized and left alone. She attempted countless therapies, traveling the globe, making attempts at alternative medicine, and even trying out Tarot readings to help her make decisions. As a physician and a scientist, she had to overcome herself to seek help from shamans, buther hopelessness left her no other choice.

After years, she came across and diagnosed herself with an illness called ME/CFS, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. But even the experts had no therapy, due to the lack of research and cause of the disease.

ME/CFS is often classified by severe fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, post-exertional-malaise/ PEM, (worsening of symptoms after physical or cognitive activity) orthostatic intolerance, unrefreshing sleep, and much more. These symptoms often show up after a viral, bacterial or possibly parasitic infection. After the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of people worldwide have developed ME/CFS. Some research has begun, which gives a bit of hope for a possible cure.

“It ruined, cut out my life. It took all my dreams and my career from me. I turned into a shadow of myself. Despite being severely sick, it was a burden not knowing what was wrong with me, or how to help it.”

She is her only patient. Seeking, longing, waiting for a cure.

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