So I am on what I am guessing is the largest email list that caters to people suffering from Mast Cell Disorders.
Depending on who you talk to, depending on what literature your read, there are a myriad of disorders, multiple diagnostic criteria, and multiple treatments.
The list for those who don't know (but then you probably aren't reading this)
* Systemic Mastocytosis (with or without cutaneous manifestations such as Urticaria Pigmentosa)
o Aggressive Mastocytosis
o Indolent Mastocytosis
o Mastocytosis with associated Hematologic Disorder
o Mast Cell Leukemia
* Cutaneous Mastocytosis
o Urticaria Pigmentosa (UP)
o Telengiecstasia Macularis Eruptive Perstans (TMEP)
* Mast Cell Activation Syndrome/ Disorder
* Idiopathic Anaphylaxis
(I'm leaving out the pediatric illnesses since children probably aren't reading my blog, and little of what I post here is relevant to the parents of children suffering from pediatric mast cell diseases)
So, we have all these categories and sub categories and suddenly it's become some sort of (and pardon my vulgarity here) dick waving competition to see who is suffering the most or whose diagnosis is the most valid. It's ridiculous. I personally got attacked by at least one member when I mentioned my status (ISM) and then mentioned I had not had a bone marrow biopsy. My doctor (Dr. Castells) is one of the leading researchers and physicians in the country for this disease, and she felt that a) all my blood, urine, and skin biopsies were proof positive and b) I was not physically stable enough to undergo a test that would not change my treatment protocol. In addition I went and got second and third opinions from 2 other mast cell disease specialists in the area, and also had Dr. Castell's mentor review my files. Every single one said the same thing, Indolent Systemic Mastocytosis, and every one agreed that the BMB seemed unnecessary at this time. (for the record I also got the ISM diagnosis from a dermatologist and the mast cell disease specialist from a different hospital before being referred to Dr. Castells)
All of this was not good enough for this woman, who seemed to imply I was malingering or that my diagnosis was not valid enough for her. What the fuck? Who is she (or anyone else) to judge what I've been told by leaders in their fields? Does my non BMB followed up diagnosis somehow dilute the mast cell suffering gene pool? Is our mailing list becoming some sort of fucked up eugenics in reverse?
Now there are people stating they are not welcome to support groups because they have a variant some people don't believe in, or having their diagnosis disregarded by other (potentially higher ranking) list members.
This all seems so absolutely goddamned stupid to me. It would be one thing is someone showed up on the mailing list saying, "man I have wicked hayfever, I can totally relate to what you guys are going through" or "man I stubbed my toe and chipped a nail, I totally know what it feels like to have osteoporosis at 30 to such an extent that when you stubbed your toe you broke it in half"
It's just so incredibly frustrating to see people denigrating each other's experiences with this disease because they do not match their own personal definition. We're all suffering and it's no one's job to try to corner the market on it (unless you have mast cell leukemia, in which case my heart goes out to you).
This could be a lot more eloquent and well thought out, but it just bugs me to see this perceived hierarchy of validation of suffering take place. It also bothers me to see this working to splinter what I find (or have found since lately it's been pissing me off) to be a very valuable resource in terms of dealing with this disease.