MGH: No Hysteria Still Hysterical | No 5

6:17 PM Just got back from my appointment with the neurologist, went well.   I do not have HYSTERIA!  I had the EMG and nerve conduction, both painful studies.   Studies showed peripheral nerve damage localized to the peroneal nerve.   Based on the above studies the damage to the nerve is somewhere between my back and my knee.   There was no nerve activity in an area lateral to my knee, and nerve conduction confirmed denervation of the muscles in my right foot and leg.

Lumbar MRI showed an annular tear at L5S1  with disc herniation but no compression of the nerve.  The nerve conduction in the back muscles was also reasonable, making disc herniation unlikely cause of my symptoms.  BUT if there were compression, it would explain my symptoms….still may???

Working Dx: Peripheral neuropathy of the peroneal nerve.  Cause of neuropathy unknown, unlikely to be ALS or MS  and no obvious malignancy.  Oh yes,  NO HYSTERIA!


  • Further studies to find the reason for peroneal nerve injury.  (It is possible I injured it unknowingly.)
  •  Customized orthotics to prevent injury to  foot;
  • Hold on physical therapy until etiology becomes clear.

“To that resident and his attending at Mass General Hospital (MGH): I do not have HYSTERIA!   I am glad I was non-compliant and did not follow your advice.  I would be on psyche medication for my peripheral neuropathy of unknown etiology.  Very scary indeed!  I shudder when I think what you two did to me and what you may be doing to others.

If only you did not pre-judge you would know  what my neurologist  said, I am hysterical (humorous) but  I do not have hysteria.  Your Failure to Listen is a classic example of health illiteracy,  cultural incompetence and inexperience at the provider level,  all  cause harm, misdiagnoses, missed diagnoses  and health disparities.


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Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

16 thoughts on “MGH: No Hysteria Still Hysterical | No 5

    1. I should add in medicine nothing is absolute and while a diagnosis is unlikely, it is still possible. I am glad the EMG/nerve conduction showed something.

      I had family members ready to run with the hysteria Already they were celebrating — sending out invitations of my admission to a psyche ward.

      I still have a foot drop; now I need orthotics. I love shoes and heels. And what if another nerve gets damaged, what caused this? We still do not have a diagnosis so I am cautiously optimistic.

  1. Angela I think you’d better hightail it over here to Australia and come and spend a couple of weeks with me and my lady. I guarantee a return to full health with lots of fun and laughter…which is what you really need!

    1. Hi Valeria,

      I hope I injured the nerve at the knee and it’s a process of nerve regeneration which takes along time but gives hope I will regain some function in those muscles

      I am going follow your advice, take a man with me anytime I see the doctors in Boston. 🙂

      I learned the importance of cultural competence in medicine.

      Are you ready for the holiday?

      1. This is good to hear!

        Me, ready for Christmas? I don’t think I’ve ever been ready!

        But it’s going to be a great one, I’m sure of it!

        Things are moving along and I’m putting into place my plans for huge career growth in the new year!

        I’m delving deeply into the world of online video. I’m setting up coaching programs as well.

        How about you?

        – Valeria

  2. Angela, I’m so happy that you are finding out what is really going on. I went through several years of therapy and finally put my foot down when the Dr. wanted to put me on Prozac. They all said nerves, but in the end it was Celiac Disease that was causing all my bowel problems. It is so frustrating when they ‘know it all’ and won’t listen.

    1. Lynda,

      I hear this a lot from women. So many times my female patients’ symptoms were dismissed as : NERVES or EMOTIONAL.
      Hysteria reserved for the severely mentally ill.

      This dismal not only causes delay in diagnosis but it can be a self fulfilling prophecy, especially, when placed on medications and pushed into the psyche world where most providers are in NEED of PSYCHOLOGICAL help (they have real issues, many belong in the a mental ward).

      What do you think can be done? Why do providers not listen to women? Why do they quickly judge? Do they not understand they put many women’s health in jeopardy?

      1. While I’ve been up against Drs discrediting my illness because I am a woman, However, in this case it was a widespread problem for both women and men. Though it is getting better.

        Celiac was believed to be very a rare disease when my symptoms kicked in as a young adult. At that time they thought it was one in every 10,000 people who had the disease. We now know it is about 1 in every 150 people. So, man or woman you could still find yourself being misdiagnosed and being sent to a shrink for your nerves.

        I dated one such man before my own diagnosis. Poor fella ended up having surgery in his nether region to “help” him with his problem! It of course didn’t help and in fact made it worse.

        I recognized his symptoms after mine had kicked in. Thankfully, I ran into a Dr who recognized mine because his aunt had recently been diagnosed. He sent me in for a biopsy to find the conclusive evidence of the disease.

        I see the problem with MD’s as a very complex issue. However, I am old enough to remember when your family Doctor knew you by name and had your file in hand when you were brought back to the examination room. He wasn’t triple booked, and he did things for you on his dime if you couldn’t pay.

        For instance: Once my brother stepped on a coffee can and cut his toe so bad we HAD to go to the Dr. He sewed the toe back on (yes you read that right) and then took care of my little brother who had been horribly burned on cooking grease (3rd. degree he told us). He was bandaged by my mom from his little belly down his legs and down one arm. She was unable to bandage his face. He had tried to drink hot grease from a jam jar. (That is an event you never forget!)

        Anyway, he saw Aaron and began quizzing mom about his bandages and face. He asked why she didn’t bring him in, and she told him she didn’t have insurance. He treated Aaron for FREE for many months till he was completely healed.

        That was then, and this is now. The problem as I see it is, that we don’t have a name anymore. We are just an appointment time and a complaint when we walk through the door. My current Dr hasn’t even caught up with file transfers from the records the previous Dr had on me! Every time I go in to see him I have to re-tell my health history!

        Get ready for the rant… The woman Dr. he replaced was black. She was wonderful and competent, and did have my records pulled up when I went in to see her. She was so efficient! Then, as time went by her patient list dwindled (you can guess why 🙁 ) and they moved her to another area “where she would fit it better.” I tried to look her up because I would have followed her, but I couldn’t find her listed anywhere. She was the first Dr that I have experienced in years that was worth her title.

        That is sad.

        1. Medicine is like a mill, Lynda….doctors don’t have time to come up for air–the job is stressful. However, stress is not an excuse for a system to fail unless there is fundamental problem with the system. At Tufts Medical the system FAILED! MGH was my go to–I marveled at the customer service. And then this incident of willful harm. Problem is I may need to return to the area. Yikes!

          Any conditions or illnesses that doctors don’t understand and they are no tests or images to help identify are in the minds of individual. There are sex and racial disparities in those diagnoses of nerves and hysteria that lie in one’s mind.

          Btw, I am not surprised your doctor was a black female. 🙂

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