Invisible Suffering

This event took place on:
Saturday, May 18, 2:00 - 3:30pm
arthritis, hands

Tim Hamilton/Flickr Creative Commons

Conditions like cancer, heart disease and AIDS strike fear into the heart of anybody with a elementary knowledge of health. So-called "invisible" conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, chronic migraine headaches and chronic fatigue syndrome, on the other hand, may be met with blank stares – or worse, dismissiveness. But to the person who lives with these conditions, life is profoundly different and more difficult than it was before its onset.

This Crawford Family Forum panel discussed what makes a medical condition "invisible": What is unique about the suffering of someone who has R.A. or chronic migraine headaches? What challenges does that person face in communicating her or his condition to a health provider? And is this a matter of public health?

This discussion also looked at how invisible conditions affect low-income communities, where there's a widespread lack of access to primary care, let alone the specialists who treat R.A. and severe migraines. What options does an uninsured, single mother living with migraines have?


Dr. Andrew Charles, professor of neurology at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine and the director of the school's Headache Research & Treatment Program

Arlene Grau, patient living with rheumatoid arthritis, migraines and fibromyalgia

Nancy Clifton-Hawkins, principal consultant at public health consulting firm Clifton-Hawkins and Associates


José Martinez, KPCC reporter on health and quality of life in South Los Angeles


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