Just say NO to tapioca!

The talking points for the email about the DHHS/IOM proposed contract prompted advocate Joe Landson (thanks for sharing it Joe) to send this letter:


Subject: MECFS definitions

Secretary Sebelius,

As a disabled veteran, and an ME/CFS patient, I am writing to protest the Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed sole-source contract (or grant?) to the Institute of Medicine, towards a consensus definition of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or ME/CFS. I am given to understand that due to ME/CFS community feedback, this sole-source proposal has been shelved. I sincerely hope it has. 

In January of this year, the IOM released a report on Gulf War Illness (GWI), which the IOM terms Chronic Multisystem Illness (CMI), a characterization arguably blander and less substantial than the tapioca pudding provided in many hospital meals. While the pudding can, in theory, be consumed, I am not sure that my fellow patients and I can stomach another attempt to portray our crippling illness as a series of bland generalities and vague complaints, treatable with talk therapy. 

Yes, we need a consensus definition. However I submit that we can best serve patients, clinicians, researchers and policymakers by writing a definition based on actual understanding of the mechanisms and causes of the illness in question. In cases where consensus science does not provide knowledge of illness cause and mechanism, then perhaps the DHHS can fund research that actually produces such knowledge. If DHHS cannot even do that, then perhaps it should avoid the definition-writing process until such consensus science does emerge. First, do no harm. Bad definitions do us harm by misdirecting research, and by exposing us to ridicule and ignorance, from which we suffer daily. 

Thank you for your consideration. Go Jayhawks. 

Joe Landson

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