This teenager says her life-saving diagnosis was delayed because some doctors dismissed her (in partnership with The Bold Type).
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Yardena Gerwin says her life-saving diagnosis was delayed because some doctors dismissed her. Now the 18-year-old is fighting sexism in medical care after surviving a disease that could have killed her.
“I was 15 in 10th grade of high school. All of a sudden, I started having some cognitive issues and some memory and confusion,” she explained. “I ended up being hospitalized, symptoms that looked like hallucinations. I didn’t know who the president was. I really didn’t know where I was.”
Gerwin said that several male doctors were pushing more for a mental diagnosis, but that there were two women psychiatrists who evaluated her and said she had to find something natural.
“They ended up doing every single test possible. And on the tenth day they found on a blood test, this really rare autoimmune blood test, that I had an encephalopathy, Hashimoto encephalopathy, which means my immune system had been attacking my brain,” she explained. “And that’s what had been causing all of those symptoms.”
75% of Americans with autoimmune diseases are women, but on average it takes over four and a half years for women to get accurately diagnosed.
Gerwin is now the president of the UN’s Girl Up chapter in New York where she helps advocate for women, and others around the world, by fighting prejudice against.
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