Episode #22: Akilah Cadet
With three degrees — including a PhD — in health science, Akilah Cadet is a self-professed health nerd. Her familiarity with the health system has proven particularly useful over the last fifteen months, as she’s navigated hospitals stays and appointments with specialists in search of a primary diagnosis for her heart-related symptoms.
Akilah has been diagnosed with pericarditis, coronary artery spasms, and orthostatic hypotension, but she’s still searching for a reason why she’s experiencing intense and chronic pain on the left side of her body. Thanks to her extensive knowledge of healthcare, she also knows about the research indicating that women who present with heart problems are not always taken seriously by medical staff. As a woman of color, Akilah has furthermore dealt with incidents of bias that have made her journey even more challenging. On today’s episode, Akilah and I talk about why she no longer thinks of her health journey as a temporary bump in the road, why she decided to start talking about her health with clients, and how she continually advocates for herself so that she ultimately can find answers.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT AKILAH AND I CHATTED ABOUT:
The symptoms she had on a family trip last summer that started her search for a diagnosis
What it was like to be celebrating her 35th birthday in Vegas while wearing a heart monitor
The downside of having lots of doctors working your case: being bounced from one to the next
Her experience searching for a primary diagnosis to make sense of her secondary diagnoses
Dropping the “I’m a doctor too” card when she has faced stereotyping in the health system
Witnessing a white woman with similar symptoms receive drastically different care in the ER
Her hesitation about sharing her health story publicly, and why that sentiment has changed
Why saying “how can I help you” or “how can I support you” is better than “I’m so sorry”
Sharing a dog with her twin sister, and how he’s now part of her daily health routine
Why it’s essential to know your rights as a patient, do research, and find the right doctors
Effective ways to to call attention to bias and negative experiences in health systems