Reader Beware

I took a science reporting class when I was in journalism school. That might baffle those who know me, given that I have little interest in science (or in journalism, for that matter), but we had to choose a specialty and science seemed easier than politics, business or entertainment. At any rate, for one of my stories I decided to write about Raynaud’s Disease , since I’ve had it for decades and therefore I had an inside track. In case any of you are in the habit of believing what you read in the media, check out this entirely true account of how I put this story together:

First I needed to find some fellow sufferers, so I went online. That sounds easy, but this was 1997 and I was using a Macintosh Classic II with a tiny nine-inch screen. In fact, the whole Internet thing was so new that my professors insisted we get a phone number for our sources and actually call them instead of just conducting the interview via e-mail. (Yes, kids, Mommy comes from a whole other millennium.) I’m pretty sure I did the interviews by e-mail and then dialled their numbers just to say I called.

Then I needed a medical expert. This was the biggest joke of all. I made an appointment with my family doctor to talk about Raynaud’s, since I had no idea where else to go, but he didn’t exactly turn out to be a fountain of information. Here’s a sample of our conversation:
ME: What are the main treatments for Raynaud’s?
DOC: Let me find some more info. (leaves room and returns with large textbook)
ME: How prevalent is Raynaud’s?
DOC: (consulting book) It doesn’t say.

I didn’t have time to find another medical source, so in my story he became “a doctor who has treated a number of Raynaud’s patients” because hey, one is a number, and he did treat me. Remember this the next time you read the newspaper.

This story came to mind today because while I’ve mostly kept my Raynaud’s under control by dressing warm and avoiding (although not eliminating) caffeine, it’s been bothering me a lot lately, so I finally saw a doctor about it, and this guy actually seemed to know something about the disorder. So now I’m on nifedipine, my toes have returned to their healthy pink color and life is good again.