Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Sunday, 20 September 2009 10:35 UK

'I was told it was all in my head'

By Mark Daly
BBC Scotland investigations correspondent

Anne Brown
It took five years for doctors to diagnose Anne with multiple sclerosis

When Anne Brown first went to her GP in 1998 her symptoms included tiredness, slurring her speech, and difficulties with walking.

"I literally couldn't get up off the sofa without landing on the floor," she said.

"I couldn't go from one end of the living room to the other and still be standing."

The GP referred her to the hospital, where they ran a battery of tests, but could not find out what was going on.

"I was basically told 'nothing wrong, go away'," she said.

"But then it flared up again and I was taken back into the hospital.

"They actually discharged me and said they'd come to the conclusion that what I had was anxiety.

You can't tell people that the doctor thinks there's nothing wrong with you
Anne Brown

"I actually heard a doctor in the corridor say 'oh well she's been to Dr Jones for counselling before so that's what's wrong with her'."

Because Anne's medical notes included a record of a previous request for help with a family problem, she was told repeatedly that her symptoms were all down to anxiety, when in fact, she was suffering from multiple sclerosis.

She even asked doctors if she might have MS.

Anne said: "The first neurologist I saw, he said - 'No, no dear, don't be silly. If you've got MS, I'll eat my hat'."

Finally, in 2003, she was given the diagnosis that by that time she knew was right.

Rehabilitation team

"I was absolutely delighted," she said. "Devastated but delighted.

"But so angry because I'd had four and a half years where people were basically telling me that whatever was going on in my body, was in my head.

"You can't tell people that the doctor thinks there's nothing wrong with you and that they think there's something wrong with you emotionally or mentally.

"How can you tell people that? Hello, I'm Anne and I stagger when I'm tired, by the way it's all in my head?"

Anne, who is from Falkirk, now receives medical treatment for the symptoms of MS, as well as support from a rehabilitation team, MS nurses and disability living allowance.

The Investigation: Misdiagnosis was be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland on Monday 21 September, at 0900 BST.

Print Sponsor

Action call over diagnosis errors
20 Sep 09 |  Scotland
Doctor 'still feels stigmatised'
20 Sep 09 |  Scotland
My son 'never had a chance'
20 Sep 09 |  Scotland


Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific