Preslee Marshall, a 25-year-old resident of Canada, began having severe electric shock-like sensations shooting throughout her body. It started happening once a week, then progressed to once a day, then multiple times a day, she says. Worried,  Marshall, who co-manages a public relations agency, consulted a neurologist. 

“He told me my symptoms were caused by anxiety. He said, ‘If you get your nails done, you’ll feel better,’ which shocked me,” she says. “But I took his advice, got my nails and hair done, went for a massage and got a facial, and my pain kept getting worse.”

Eventually, Marshall was diagnosed with fibromyalgia – a long-lasting condition that often causes pain and tenderness throughout the body – by a rheumatologist after a thorough examination and an MRI to rule out other serious conditions, like multiple sclerosis, which can have similar symptoms.

Lorrie Lewis, a 56-year-old social worker, was also brushed off by her doctor. Her daughter, Beth DeCapua, a house painter in Toms River, NJ, says her mother had consulted a doctor because she was having a hard time coordinating her hands while trying to dust the coffee table.

“The first doctor my mother saw said, ‘You’ve got to expect this at your age,’ and when she went to a second doctor, he advised her to go home and relax with a glass of wine,” DeCapua recalls. Two years later, Lewis was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which eventually claimed her life.

Obadiah J., a clergyman from New York who asked that his last name not be used for this article, began feeling “terrible heartburn” when he was 15. He consulted a doctor who told him that young men "don't get heartburn." 

“It wasn’t until I got married and my wife introduced me to a gastroenterologist that I got diagnosed with a hiatal hernia and an inflamed esophagus,” he says.