Frankel & Newfield, P.C.

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in O, The Oprah Magazine

It’s not The New England Journal of Medicine, but when an article on a health issue is covered in O, The Oprah Magazine, millions of people around the world read the article in a print issue, and many millions more see it online.

The November 2015 issue included an article, “Is This Why You’re Still So Tired,” which tells the story of a highly successful executive working at Visa who went from being director of commercial sales at the company to being completely debilitated, with dizzy spells and intense fatigue. Her initial symptoms presented in 2007, and it was not until 2008 that she took a leave of absence and was finally properly diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS. The prescribed medications didn’t help much. Four years later she met with Jose Montoya, MD, professor of infectious diseases and geographic medicine at Stanford Medical Center. He is one of a few doctors doing research into causes and treatments for CFS. Under his care, she began to get better, although she has not returned to her previously highly demanding career.

Thinking about CFS has changed, based on research by doctors like Montoya and reports issued by the Institute of Medicine calling CFS a “serious, chronic, complex and systemic disease.” Research is underway, including studies that are looking into the inflammation created by CFS and the impact it has on the human microbiome – the environment made up of vast numbers of bacteria, viruses and even fungi that live in and on the human body.

But despite the research, results and articles in national publications geared to scientists and consumers alike, the long term disability insurance companies persist in treating CFS and fibromyalgia claims as if nothing has changed. We continue to receive telephone calls from formerly highly compensated professionals and executives whose lives have been upended as the result of these diseases. They are questioned and treated as if they are lazy and simply don’t want to go back to work. We know better.

We would like to think that at some point long term disability insurance companies and their third –party claims managers will realize that these claims are as valid as any other serious chronic illness, but we’re not holding our breath.

If you have been diagnosed with CFS or fibromyalgia and your disability insurance company is treating you like a malingerer, give our office a call at 877-LTD-CLAIM (877-583-2524) to learn how we can help.

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