A podcast about invisible conditions and chronic invisible illness, featuring interviews with survivors, their loved ones, advocates, and experts in varied healing modalities, from medical to holistic. Hosted by Lauren Freedman, a voice actor, writer, and activist, who lives with Hashimoto’s disease and sleep disorders, Uninvisible uncovers real stories of survival and humanity – complete with laughter. In truth and with candor, we offer solutions – and challenge the world to change.
118: LLMD Dr. Casey Kelley
Casey Kelley, MD, ABoIM is the founder and medical director of Case Integrative Health. Dr. Kelley is relentless about getting to the root cause of chronic disease and transforming health through Functional Medicine. On faculty at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, she is Board Certified in Family Medicine and was also among the first physicians to become Board Certified in Integrative Medicine. She has studied the causes, effects, and treatments of disease extensively, and lectures nationally on this and other topics. Dr. Kelley graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine and completed her residency in Family Medicine at St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago. She is a ten-year member of the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM), a Director on the board of The International Lyme and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), and is a Founding Member of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM). Prior to founding Case Integrative Health, Dr. Kelley practiced medicine at WholeHealth Chicago, Michigan Avenue Immediate Care, and St. Joseph Hospital. And get this: she is not only an LLMD treating those living with chronic Lyme — but she was once also a patient herself. This ep is not to be missed!
Tune in as Dr. Kelley shares:
that she founded Case Integrative Health 2 years ago; but has been in the integrative health field for over 8 years that she dealt with chronic fatigue, brain fog, and other symptoms for years until she discovered they were part of a Lyme diagnosis that she wanted to “create a place for people with chronic illnesses who were misunderstood by conventional medicine, and needed a different approach” that she is already seeing new patients living with long COVID — a “post-immune issue”, much like chronic Lyme that she trusts her patients to know their bodies better than she does — and so, she believes them why integrative practices can save the healthcare system money (in preventing chronic disease) that the science supporting the existence of Lyme diagnosis and treatment is REAL and readily available that much Lyme testing currently available is inadequate; more funds are needed for greater research and development how doctors are strapped by the system of private interest in healthcare why she has divested from the health insurance model in her practice — and wants her patients to get better, so will always find a way to work with them to make their care accessible that financial support is always available to patients through various Lyme advocacy groups that she was diagnosed with POTS during med school, but was actually living through chronic Lyme all the varied symptoms that can be associated with Lyme the importance of thorough tick checks after going outdoors where ticks are most likely to be found on the body how she treats Lyme in her practice that she is licensed in several states, and practices telemedicine for patients outside of the Chicaco area how she celebrates patients who make it through chronic Lyme treatment
117: Alex Moresco, Lyme Advocate & Co-Founder of Advocacy Express
Whether it’s hiding the likes of Pamela Anderson from paparazzi or helping NeNe Leakes pretend to sell furniture…Alex Moresco has a story about it. A PR executive from Chicago, four years ago her life was turned upside-down by undiagnosed illness. It took her two years and eight specialists (a shorter time than most, she admits) to find a doctor that would eventually crack the case: tick-borne illness. She quickly realized what mattered in life: philanthropy, advocacy, and lobbying for more accessible and evidence-based healthcare. Moresco has gone on to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for tick-borne illness research, and makes frequent trips to DC as part of that work. In 2020, she co-founded Advocacy Express, an automated advocacy platform that makes it attainable and efficient for constituents to lobby their Representatives for tick-borne disease-related and healthcare change. Featured on People, Fox, Michigan Avenue Magazine, Swaay, and various other outlets, she joined us to share her story and remind why advocacy matters. Especially for those living through Lyme.
Tune in as Ali shares:
how her symptoms were written off by practitioners: as a cold, flu, stomach flu, food poisoning, ear infections, depression, and more that while she was being brushed aside by practitioners, her symptoms progressed so much that she became bedridden a recognition of her privilege in accessing varied treatments — Eastern, Western, antibiotics, ozone, IV therapy, peptide therapy, IVIG, and more that she has multiple confections, dysautonomia, and Specific Antibody Deficiency as a result of her Lyme infection that one of her doctors had the wherewithal to send her to an LLMD for confirmation and treatment that so many Lyme patients are abandoned by friends, family, and practitioners how her illness has impacted her relationships the importance of mental health support through chronic illness — and that she finally sought professional support after losing a close friend to Lyme the disproportionate disbelief of chronic Lyme patients, and the need for systemic change in order to validate their experiences and create practical solutions why she is committed to helping raise voices in more marginalized communities why it’s more critical to DO THE WORK of erasing stigma and addressing systemic oppression behind the scenes, rather than solely taking part in performative action what drove she and her husband to establish Advocacy Express — and how they are leveraging the platform to create legislative change in healthcare what we need to change about medical education in the US — and why more doctors need to be educated in chronic disease (outside of what’s easily treated with pharmaceuticals) why it’s a crime that insurance companies require patients to be “sicker” in order to address their needs — and thus create long-term dependence on treatments, rather than covering preventive treatments in the short-term that there is hope
116: Lyme Survivor & Life Sherpa Gena Chieco
Gena Chieco is a coach, adventurer, and connector who loves inspiring clients to step into their best lives by providing tools to help them tap into their inner wisdom and dreams. She grew up in a rural suburb of New York City running around barefoot in the summer, obsessed with nature, with dreams of becoming a zoologist. After earning a BA with Honors in Psychology from Northwestern University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law, she had the privilege of working for the Obama Administration. She contributed to a variety of initiatives, including immigration reform at the Department of Homeland Security and environmental issues at the White House. She left federal service in 2017 to serve as General Counsel & Chief of Staff to the CEO of a cleantech startup, marrying her passion for the environment and entrepreneurial spirit. The following year, while on an extended travel sabbatical, she began her coaching journey by enrolling in Dr. Martha Beck’s Life Coach Training Program. She realized that she has always been a coach in spirit – whether helping friends find jobs they love, encouraging team members to build upon their passions, or serving as a confidante to executives. All this, and she is no stranger to resilience, having lived through more than one challenging life chapter followed by a phoenix rising experience. Perhaps most relevant to our chat in this episode: she’s a survivor of Lyme disease. Her experience is best captured by the Mizuta Masahide haiku, “Barn’s burnt down – now I can see the moon.”
Tune in as Gena shares:
that she was likely bitten by a Lyme-carrying tick as a child, but wasn’t diagnosed until she was a teen that antibiotics had shot her immune system, and she was plagued with bacterial infections that it took her five years to heal once she started to exhibit symptoms the role of mindset shift in her healing journey why she had to love herself as much as (or more than) she despised her illness the importance of consistent holistic wellness in her ongoing health that she hasn’t had symptoms for over a decade now how her relationship to her body has changed through her healing journey that she started therapy when she was experiencing Lyme symptoms — and how vital mental health support was during that time that she was intermittently told by medical professionals that her symptoms were all in her head how getting sick — and getting well — has been a gateway for her to uncover her most authentic self
115: Integrative Rheumatologist Dr. Micah Yu
Dr. Micah Yu is an integrative rheumatologist who incorporates complementary medicine with traditional rheumatology. He is double board-certified in internal medicine and lifestyle medicine. He obtained his MD from Chicago Medical School, and holds a Masters in Healthcare Administration and Biomedical sciences. He completed his internal medicine residency and rheumatology fellowship at Loma Linda University in Southern California. He is currently in his 2nd fellowship at the Andrew Weil Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the University of Arizona. Dr. Yu is not only a doctor but he is also a patient himself. He has spondyloarthritis and gout, and uses his social media presence to bring awareness to autoimmune disease and chronic pain, and to unpack how we can use complementary medicine to fight these problems. Basically: he’s the doc we’ve all been looking for. And in this episode, we also dug into the COVID vaccine…is it safe for autoimmune disease patients? Tune in to find out!
Tune in as Dr. Yu shares:
that he works with his wife, who is a family doctor also certified in lifestyle medicine…and lives with ADHD and IBS herself that he developed gout — an arthritis disease — after going on the Atkins diet as a teen that in college, his gout evolved into severe arthritis how he pushed through his pain during medical school that he was drawn to specializing in rheumatology because of his own diagnosis that he was never offered mental health or nutrition/lifestyle support for his diagnosis of spondyloarthritis — and it’s inspired him to become the doctor he is today, and buck the system hat chronic diseases are increasing by 7% a year that he used to see his diagnosis as a curse; but he now sees it as an asset in his work that lifestyle medicine centers on whole-food, plant-based nutrition that he was inspired after watching Forks Over Knives — and when he experimented with a plant-based diet, his inflammatory markers decreased significantly that he’s using lifestyle to manage his health, and is trying to avoid medication until absolutely necessary why he spends at least an hour with new patients that he’s been moonlighting two nights a week treating and admitting COVID patients to the ER why post-COVID syndrome is so frightening that he’s witnessed new-onset autoimmune disease following COVID infections in formerly able-bodied people who had a genetic predisposition to the diagnoses how the flu vaccine compares to the COVID vaccine what mRNA and adenovirus are that mRNA and adenovirus do not alter genetic code or DNA the short-term side effects of the COVID vaccine that the COVID vaccine has indeed been tested thoroughly, and no less so than any other vaccine released to the public that, in VERY rare cases, it’s possible to contract autoimmune disease because of vaccination — and that this is known as ASIA (autoimmune induced by adjuvants) syndrome that he practices remotely, and currently has 15 state licenses in order to serve his patients his take on the US healthcare system
114: Black Disabled Artist Rana 2.0
Artist Rana Awadallah grew up surrounded by poverty, abuse, and trauma. Diagnosed with major depression and extreme anxiety at the age of 18, she always felt there was something “wrong” with her body. Then, at the age of 24 — after having dealt with chronic pain for a decade — she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both of her knees. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, PCOS, and possible endometriosis. Having not been taken seriously by loved ones or doctors for years, these diagnoses came as a validation. But they also signaled aggressive change. Because her pain prevented her from continuing work in her dream job (as a chef), these disabilities also created the opportunity to pursue art from home — something she’d had a passion and talent for her entire life. Within a year, she has created a thriving community of fellow Spoonies, inspiring them through her work. She’s taken on brand ambassadors, connected with leading lights in the patient advocacy community, and now…she’s ready to share her story. We are thrilled to welcome the lovely and kind Rana2.0 to Uninvisible Pod!
Tune in as Rana shares:
that she struggled with a weak immune system as a kid that she started having chronic knee pain at the age of 15 that she was recently diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both of her knees that her previous diagnoses of depression and anxiety were blamed for her physical issues early on — and she was brushed aside by doctors and her pain not taken seriously how her physical pain began affecting her ability to work that she experienced debilitating pain from the onset of her period — and realized eventually that it wasn’t normal the textbook PCOS symptoms she experienced how the PCOS diagnosis was validating that she uses cannabis regularly to manage her pain and mental health what her day-to-day looks like as she works around chronic pain how her upbringing influences her momentum to this day — the idea that she should overcome and carry on the importance of listening to our bodies that she grew up in a strict Muslim household — and her family denied her mental health struggles how her identity has impacted her experience in the medical industry why it’s vital for her to vocally support the Black disabled community
113: Myositis Thriver Michole J
Michole J lives with rare muscle disease polymyositis (PM), which falls under the umbrella of muscular dystrophy. PM is an uncommon inflammatory disease that affects the entire body — and while Michole began to exhibit symptoms in her late 20s, she was diagnosed at age 30 with the rarest form. Living with the condition create mobility challenges, from climbing stairs, lifting objects, raising her arms, and even becoming rapidly exhausted from any kind of movement, to breathing issues due to the spread of inflammation to her lungs. Michole’s mission is to bring more awareness to invisible illness, reminding us that we may not all have the same illness (or any illness at all), but that our struggles are still the same.
Tune in as Michole shares:
how she first started experiencing symptoms that it took almost three years and several hospitalizations for her to get a diagnosis that her symptoms overlap with numerous other chronic illnesses that polymyositis is a progressive disease, and largely affects her limbs that she was never offered mental health support along her diagnosis and treatment journey that she’s now got the additional diagnosis of ILD — interstitial lung disease the struggle of being believed when living with invisible illness how her mother has stepped up as an advocate for her since her diagnosis, and how they have become even closer as a result how caregivers experience chronic illness and disability alongside their loved ones the importance of remote work opportunities for her why the cost of healthcare and treatments can be debilitating for patients discrimination she’s faced from the public how race has impacted her experiences in the medical system (and beyond) her frustration with lack of representation in rare disease how a lack of curiosity in the healthcare system is causing problems for patients how she’s learned to say “no” why it’s useful to develop a meaningful relationship with your practitioners
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Wow! Finally not alone...
I really like this podcast with Lauren. I have epilepsy and a hearing problem and connect on multiple levels with this podcast. Thanks so much-keep this update. -Rosaria Kozar LWS
Quickly became one of my favorites
There is something about the way Lauren talks to her guests that immediately draws me in. I appreciate the candor and diversity of the conversations. The topics are always interesting
Fellow podcaster and spoonie
I LOVE Lauren’s take on connecting with the individual and their story while providing useful insights. Her guests clearly feel comfortable with her and therefore open up in a way that touches and inspires the audience. It’s a great podcast if youre looking to learn and be entertained at the same time, whether youre a chronic illness warrior or not!