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House

When I saw this on the internet, I was alone in my living room but I still found myself laughing out loud. If you’ve never seen the TV show House M.D., it is about a brilliant and ornery doctor, addicted to prescription medications, with absolutely no bedside manner. He takes the hardest cases no other doctor can manage and after having a far fetched “light bulb” moment, usually manages to solve them in the last few minutes of each episode right before the patient dies. Whew! The show is a bit formulaic in that regard but well written with interesting characters.

It is the first and often the only place most people ever hear the word sarcoidosis. Dr. House frequently misdiagnoses people with this disease before he finally figures out what’s wrong and the writers of the show often downplay its complex nature by leading the viewer to believe that some high powered steroids will cure it. There is no cure.

What’s really funny about this picture is that sarcoidosis is very hard to diagnosis and while there are some generalities for what patients experience, it actually impacts each patient very differently. Patients aren’t even diagnosed the same way. Some are diagnosed through lab work, others through imaging and still others through biopsies. A biopsy is the only way to know with any certainty you have the disease and even it can come back inconclusive. It’s a very slippery disease and can be mistaken for cancer, MS or even lupus to name a few. It’s a mimicker.

Patients who have it, experience a wide range of symptoms from horrible coughing spells to shortness of breath to bells palsy to fevers to joint and bone pain to brain fog to nerve pain to muscle wasting to unintended weight loss and on and on. The symptoms and severity of the disease are also wide ranging. Some folks go into remission easily with no or minimal treatment and others experience life long issues as a result of the disease. It’s unpredictable.

And when you actually have this disease, it can be difficult to determine when to be worried about your symptoms and when not to be. It can also be difficult to know when to blame your health concerns on it or something else.

So, the fact that Dr. House loves to blame bizarre symptoms on sarcoidosis isn’t that far fetched but sometimes a broke toe is just a broken toe!

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