Global Health

The Invisible Kingdom of Chronic Illness

January 11, 2023  • Aspen Ideas to Go

The pain and discomfort brought on by a newly-developed chronic illness can be exhausting. On top of symptoms, millions of people also have frustrating and belittling encounters with the medical system while on a quest to diagnose and treat their illnesses. Journalist Meghan O’Rourke was one of them, and it took her more than a decade to convince a doctor to run the tests that would finally explain what she was experiencing. That journey led to treatments and improved health, and also became the basis for her latest book, “The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness.” She talks with Yale internal medicine professor and author of the New York Times Magazine “Diagnosis” column, Lisa Sanders, about the process of illuminating the often disconnected and isolated community of chronically ill people. As O’Rourke explains, simple recognition can go a long way for patients facing the unknown, but even that is frequently hard to come by. In this conversation from Aspen Ideas: Health, she uses research, scientific analysis and storytelling to chart a course for a medical system that digs deeper for answers and does better for these patients.

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