symptoms

Pre-diagnosis limbo: “I knew something was wrong”

Before you were diagnosed with your condition, how long did you live in “limbo” with your symptoms and what was that like? Living with the unknown is a common part of the patient experience — PatientsLikeMe data shows that people with a wide range of health conditions live with their symptoms for several months or years before getting diagnosed. Let’s take a look at the diagnosis “lag time” and some common first symptoms for various conditions, plus anecdotes and quotes about members’ earliest experiences with their condition (like this one from a member living with multiple sclerosis). Diagnosis delay The graph below shows how long it can take for people with various health conditions to receive their diagnosis. While it doesn’t represent every patient’s experience, it gives a sense of the hundreds — or in some cases, thousands — of days many people live with their symptom(s) before they get their diagnosis. (Click here for a larger view.) * Median time between “first symptom” date and diagnosis date for members who’ve reported both on PatientsLikeMe, including (N=) 5,671 members with ALS; 12,870 with bipolar disorder; 40,846 with fibromyalgia; 430 with lung cancer; 7,918 with lupus (SLE); 14,929 with major depressive disorder; 30,262 …

Pre-diagnosis limbo: “I knew something was wrong” Read More »

April is Sjogren’s Awareness Month

It’s April, which means it’s also Sjogren’s Awareness Month. Why do we need awareness? Around four million Americans have Sjogren’s, but less than half of those patients are diagnosed. Sjogren’s is often referred to as an invisible disease and despite patients’ severe discomfort, many don’t often see it as debilitating. This can be isolating for patients and one of the many reasons more awareness of this condition is needed. So, let’s talk facts. Sjogren’s is an autoimmune disease which affects the entire body, the vast majority of cases are seen in women (around 96%). The symptoms of the condition are scattered and, in many cases, not connected which means misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is very common. Take a look at some of the Symptoms of Sjogren’s. What can you do to help spread awareness? Share your experience with Sjogren’s on social media with the tag #ThisIsSjögrens, and join the conversation on PatientsLikeMe to learn how others are managing their symptoms. Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.

Spoons and forks – not just for summer picnics

There are a ton of activities to do during the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.” And whether you’re living with a chronic condition or not, it’s good to learn how to manage your energy. Christine Miserandino, who lives with lupus, created her “Spoon Theory” as a way to think about how much energy we have available. Here’s how it works: Pretend that you have a handful of spoons that represent all the energy you have for the day. Depending on your health, you’ll need to use some of those spoons to get dressed, make a pot of coffee or take care of your pet. Once you’ve done the daily ‘essential’ activities, you’ll know how much energy you’ve got left for other things, like going for walk on a summer evening. The great thing about the Spoon Theory is that it works for everyone – you choose how many spoons to start with each day and know how many you have left. It’s also an easy way to communicate with others how you’re feeling at any given time. Maybe you’re not feeling like that hike with trekking poles in the woods. It may be hard to say ‘no,’ but easier …

Spoons and forks – not just for summer picnics Read More »

Visualizing insomnia

Jenna Martin is a photographer living with insomnia, and her sleeplessness is the inspiration behind much of her work. Much like the Seeing [MS] campaign, she tries to visualize her experiences through unique photographs that capture what it feels like to manage bouts of insomnia. Her photographs were recently featured in the Huffington Post, and as she told the organization, “on average, I only get a few hours of sleep every three days or so. During a bad bout, I’ll go close to five days with no sleep. When that happens, reality and the dream world become switched in a way: reality is very hazy and hard to remember, and any sleep I do get has dreams that are incredibly vivid. Everything starts to blend together; I’ll begin seeing things from a third person perspective and it’s hard to tell if I’m awake or if I’m dreaming.” Check out some of her pictures below, and see more of her work on her Facebook page. If you are living with insomnia, you’re not alone – over 2,200 people on PatientsLikeMe know what you’re going through. You can also visit the Sleep Issues forum to ask questions and learn more about sleep …

Visualizing insomnia Read More »

Getting to know our 2014 Team of Advisors – Lisa

A few weeks ago, we kicked off the “Getting to know our 2014 Team of Advisors” blog series with Dana, a PatientsLikeMe member from New Jersey that is living with bipolar II. And now, we’d like to introduce you to another member of the team – Lisa.  About Lisa (aka lcs) Lisa’s recent work experience was to help healthcare providers improve care delivery working for Cerner Homecare, a home health/hospice software solution, and Press Ganey, a patient satisfaction measurement/improvement organization. She is very knowledgeable about providers/systems and the flaws in the system. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 2008, and just recently stopped working as a full time executive due to non-motor PD symptoms like loss of function, mental fatigue and daytime somnolence, and she is now a volunteer at National Patient Advocate Foundation, and a Mom whose daughter just got married in June.   Lisa on being part of the Team of Advisors “When we had our first in-person meeting in Cambridge, we were a group of strangers who had no idea what to expect. We quickly learned we were connected by our common experiences and our passion to improve the patient’s experience. I think we were …

Getting to know our 2014 Team of Advisors – Lisa Read More »

Seeing [MS]: The invisible symptoms – hot and cold

Dimitri is living with multiple sclerosis (MS), and he experiences dramatic changes in his body temperature every day. These swings can aggravate his other symptoms and leave him feeling suffocated. As he puts it, “a single bead of sweat can bring me to my knees.”   You are now seeing hot and cold Photographed by Jamie MacFayden Inspired by Dimitri’s invisible symptoms He worked with photographer Jamie MacFayden to portray his hot and cold sensations as part of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Australia’s (MSA) Seeing [MS] campaign, which we also posted about on the blog in July (blurred vision) and August (pain). It’s all about raising awareness and showing everyone the invisible symptoms some people are living with because of their MS. Stay tuned for more Seeing [MS] posts. Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word for MS.

Seeing [MS]: The invisible symptoms – pain

“I’m burnt alive every day.” That’s how Stephen Papadopoulos, an Australian living with multiple sclerosis (MS), describes the level of pain he experiences on a daily basis. Pain is the second of nine symptoms portrayed in the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Australia’s (MSA) Seeing [MS] awareness campaign, and Stephen details his experience in the video below:   You are now seeing pain Photographed by Garth Oriander Inspired by Stephen Papadopoulos’ invisible symptom   We’re highlighting pain this month in an effort to reveal the invisible side of living with MS. You can also read other posts on pain – of particular note, Tam’s story about her private, intense pain. Share this post on twitter and help spread the word for MS.

Seeing [MS]: The invisible symptoms – blurred vision

Hidden – invisible – unnoticed. That’s what symptoms for many living MS are like. So how do you explain them to people who don’t understand? The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Australia (MSA) decided to stop just talking about them and start showing what it’s like to live with MS. Their project is called Seeing [MS] and includes nine photographers depicting nine invisible symptoms in a series of single images. And all of them are inspired by the experiences of people living with the condition – these photographs are what life with MS is like for them. We’ll be highlighting them all on the blog over the coming months to help expose the invisible side of disease. You are now seeing blurred vision Photographed by Toby Burrows Inspired by Emma Giunti’s invisible symptom   Emma Giunti talking more about MS and blurred vision. Share this post on twitter and help spread the word for MS.

A Traumatic Brain Injury Can Happen to Anyone

Did you know that 1.7 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year?  Or that the term includes any type of blow, bump or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function? March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, a time for reinforcing the seriousness of head injuries, given that traumatic brain injuries are a contributing factor in a third of all injury-related deaths in the US.  In addition, 3.1 million individuals are living with life-long disability as a result of a traumatic brain injury. Some common causes of these injuries are falls, car accidents, workplace accidents and assaults, but the effects can vary greatly from person to person.  No two brain injuries are alike. Are you living with a traumatic brain injury?  Share your symptom and treatment histories with the 500+ members of PatientsLikeMe’s traumatic brain injury community and discuss your experiences in our Injuries and Traumas Forum.  In addition, consider raising awareness in your area by getting involved with the Brain Injury Global Picnic, which takes place September 21, 2013.  The goal is to organize 1,000 picnics around the world – thus setting the Guinness World Record for the most people picnicking in …

A Traumatic Brain Injury Can Happen to Anyone Read More »

Life with Bipolar I Disorder: What We’ve Learned

Yesterday, our interview with bipolar blogger Andrea gave you a glimpse into what it’s like to live with bipolar I disorder.  Today we take a deeper look into this mental health condition using the data and experiences shared by our 1,237 bipolar I members. First off, however, you may have heard of something called bipolar II as well, so let’s talk about how bipolar I and II differ.  Bipolar I is a subdiagnosis of bipolar disorder that conforms to the classic concept of manic-depressive illness.  It is characterized by at least one manic or mixed episode, and there may be episodes of hypomania (marked by elevated mood, hyperactivity and grandiosity) and major depression as well.  In contrast, bipolar II disorder – which is slightly more prevalent at PatientsLikeMe with 1,556 patients reporting it – is marked by depressive episodes that are more frequent and more intense than the manic episodes. Now, let’s take a look at the wealth of data found at PatientsLikeMe.  To give you a sense of the makeup of our bipolar I patients, 74% are female, more than 78% have an official bipolar I diagnosis, and approximately 40% report experiencing their first symptom prior to the age …

Life with Bipolar I Disorder: What We’ve Learned Read More »

Scroll to Top