When a person suffers from a chronic condition, we sometimes equate our value to how we feel. Chiari, Ehlers-Danlos, CSF Leaks, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, etc. all cause pain. Sometimes we tend to carry that pain along with us as baggage. If we carry our self-value as related to pain, we are more likely to let healthcare professionals bully us and eventually, all this baggage compromises the relationships that matter most to us. Well, it’s time to look deep inside ourselves and find our inner strength.

Take a step back and pretend for a moment that a loved one had the conditions you have. Imagine knowing all the struggles they have fought. Imagine them hoping for a diagnosis so that they could have a name to fight. Imagine them enduring countless appointments and procedures. Imagine them in pain and struggling to go to important events, so they are not letting people down. Imagine them doing hours and hours of research to find help. Now, stop for a moment and ask yourself a question. Would you call that person strong or weak? Really stop and think about it. They aren’t famous and probably not wealthy. I know what I would call them. I would call them the epitome of strength! I hope you would consider a loved one like that to be a super strong person too. Wouldn’t you have respect for them? Wouldn’t you wonder how they kept functioning and be in amazement of their abilities? Now stop again. This person we imagined as a loved one is now back to being YOU!!!

That’s right! YOU, with these chronic conditions, feeling as battered and bruised as you do, are like Superman or Superwoman. You have done more while enduring pain, than most people do that are completely healthy!

Now, how do you value your life? You should value your life as a beautiful person that finds strength deep down inside. You should find joy in small things and accept love that is given to us as someone that is deserving of such love. Let them love you and cherish the special moments you have in life. Value your health and fight for what you feel is the right treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your medical professionals and fight to get back and keep whatever quality of life that you can, because you matter! But we must learn to fight right! Not with fists or harsh words, but by articulating the extent of our pain at every level allotted to us!

When your doctor provides substandard care, he subjects himself/herself to a formal complaint. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis that leads to incorrect treatment, delayed treatment, or no treatment at all, can cause you harm and is complaint worthy. Overprescribing, underprescribing, and failure to prescribe adequate treatment for your condition(s) are also grounds for a formal complaint.


Preparing to make your complaint(s):

• Calmly articulate your condition(s) and how difficult treatment has been on you and your family thus far.

• Explain the treatment options you have been presented with, the options you have tried and why they should not be considered efficient treatment for you, and why you feel that the option being declined to you is the best course of treatment for you personally.

• Directly ask the recipient at each level for help and express your desire to resolve the issue at their level.


Preparing to send your complaint:

• Write the department and/or division head and request a meeting with him/her about it.

• Write the members services of the hospital or medical group that you are a part of and request an internal review.

• If the internal review failed to bring about the action that you need, request an external review.

• File a complaint with the state medical board that the doctor is in. Be sure to provide all supporting evidence that you have. They will enter your complaint into database and review your case to determine if disciplinary action should be taken against your doctor. Even if the state medical board doesn’t agree with you, it will go on record and might be reviewed again when/if additional patients make similar complaints about that doctor.

• Contact your state legislators asking for their help. While they usually wont respond to you directly, they have state aides that are armed with lists of resources to help. If state laws are a reason behind the lack of treatment you are getting, let them know how these laws are having a negative impact on the quality of care that you are receiving in their state.

• Contact your federal legislators asking for help at a national level. You might feel intimidated, like they are not going to care about what is happening with a sick constituent, but the truth is that you are not the only patient experiencing these problems, and their ability to hear from multiple patients with similar problems can raise red flags. Federal legislators are officials paid to represent your state at a federal level. If federal laws are a reason behind the lack of treatment you are getting, let them know how these laws are having a negative impact on the quality of care that you are receiving.

• Write letters to all government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Federal Drug Administration (FDA), etc. They might not do anything specifically about your doctor, but they are responsible (at least in part) for many of the rules and regulations governing aspects of our care. Let them know how you’re doing under the policies their responsible for. 

• Write the United States Attorney General and the President of the United States and let them hear directly from you on how these laws, rules and regulations are affecting your health care.

The bottom line is, everything has been accomplished for Chiarians, has been done by us working together. They might not care about one letter, but how about tens of thousands? Let’s unite and fight for our rights to proper medical care, including proper pain relief, while we can!

You can do this! Together we C.A.N. do this!


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  1. This is such a key article. It gives us clear direction on how we can stand up for ourselves, raise awareness and take out power back

  2. We have accomplished so much together. I don’t know why more aren’t concerned about this. But if we only fight it individually, we won’t get anywhere. We need to do this collectively. That’s where the power is! Together, we CAN!