It causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, failure to thrive, pain, phenomenal abdominal distension, reflux, choking, throat impaction, diarrhoea, constipation and chronic impaction and autonomic issues to name but a few of the symptoms we have dealt with over the years.
Ignorance is never an excuse for prejudice.
Not really a walk in the park, is it? And that's just a random selection of the first pictures I came across. Believe me, it's not fun, not superficial and not all in anyone's mind.
Programmes like this are about as helpful as people posting "cure-all" panaceas. Recently I came across a gem which I had obviously been missing out on for years. Apparently Cinnamon and Honey is a tried and tested wonder cure for most health issues? I kid you not. Recently I discovered several misguided individuals suggesting via Facebook that this amazing combination would cure virtually all known ailments. Goodness! And we've endured years worth of symptoms we could have kissed goodbye to in an instant. I mean, it makes you wonder why doctors go to medical school for seven years - doesn't it?
As my friend described on her Blog "Seven Years to Diagnosis" this episode of Holby City was insulting not only to those individuals fighting this comparatively rare disease and all its ramifications, but anyone dealing with a disease which has yet to become mainstream and fully accepted.
But what bothers me most is that this is not merely stupidity born of ignorance but an example of an endemic problem in society, possibly a trait in the human psyche we will never eradicate - to be suspicious and critical of the unfamiliar, to condemn that which we don't understand. At a time when we bend over backwards to accommodate known difference and apply criteria of positive discrimination we fall short of tackling the root cause of inequality in society. Fear of the unknown.
It's all very well to retrospectively tackle racial inequality, sexual inequality or educational inequality, but what of criteria we fear, misunderstand and shy away from addressing? Prejudice against the disabled, the chronically sick and the mentally ill is still as mainstream and accepted today as it was a decade or two ago. Ok, maybe we've gone some way to address this within our comfort zone - disabled veterans, cancer sufferers and elderly alzheimer sufferers - and that IS progress, but what about those with Bipolar, Depression, Eating Disorders, ME, and Food Allergies? Or Anxiety, ADHD, Autism, Skin disorders, Epilepsy, and Cerebral Palsy? It might be unacceptable to use terms like "Retard" or "Wally" but that hardly stops prejudice in its tracks.
We are indeed anthropologically programmed to mistrust that which is new and unfamiliar. Without knowledge and understanding how can we ascertain whether we are at risk ourselves? After all, self-preservation and herd instinct are pretty ingrained in human instinct. I remember first hearing of Eosinophilic Disease myself when my second child was young and apparently suffering "merely" with reflux. I vividly remember how profoundly grateful I felt that it was not something we would have to deal with. How wrong can you be. And when doctors and health professionals themselves are struggling to understand and classify a relatively new disease (in terms of acknowledgement, not symptoms) it's not surprising this social ignorance breeds prejudice.
But although sufferers of chronic illness might be on the periphery of mainstream medical understanding - yet to be chronicled in journals and textbooks as well-understood and accepted - they deserve respect and understanding too. It's time we challenged the root causes of prejudice, just as we would a new disease. Crisis-managing symptoms is only ever a short term sticking-plaster, whether you are referring to disease, or trends in society.
Ignorance is never an excuse for prejudice. And neither is Fear.