Golden Girls Gets Real About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A beloved and timeless sitcom about four women in the golden years of their life, Golden Girls holds a place in many people’s hearts as a funny and touching show. Despite its comedic elements, the show has many heartfelt moments about family, friends, and aging. One such episode dealt with how Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can often be dismissed or ignored by medical professionals, leaving those afflicted feeling shamed, unheard, and hopeless.

Golden Girls Gets Real About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Golden Girls Episode - "Sick and Tired"

In the episode titled “Sick and Tired” Dorothy (Bea Arthur) begins to experience the sudden onset of a condition that leaves her feeling inexplicably fatigued. When her friends Rose (Betty White), Blanche (Rue Deveraux), and mother Sophia (Estelle Getty) notice a big shift in her personality and level of energy, they take her to see the doctor.

Dorothy’s first doctor listens to her symptoms and performs a battery of tests - not discovering anything unusual about her results. When Sophia explains her daughter is just not the same woman she has always known, Dorothy is referred to a neurologist.

Doctor Suggests Dorothy Is Getting Old

The neurologist, Dr. Bud, disbelieves that there is anything wrong with Dorothy. He condescendingly questions her - if she was so tired, how is it that she could get in a cab to make her appointment? Dr. Bud suggests that she’s just “getting old” and she should probably just go and see a psychiatrist.

Dr. Bud makes Dorothy feel crazy and she collapses in tears. She knows that this is something affecting her body, and the next doctor she visits listens to her concerns and symptoms and diagnoses her with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

This diagnosis helps Dorothy feel vindicated - having a name for her illness means she can find the help she needs. Later on, when out to dinner with her friends and mother, Dorothy sees Dr. Bud. She confronts him, telling him that she has a real illness. In the emotional encounter, Dorothy puts into words the Dr. Bud made her feel: “I came to you sick. Sick and scared, and you dismissed me [...] You made me feel like a child, a fool, a neurotic who was wasting your time. [...] No one deserves that kind of treatment. No one.”

Watch A Clip From The Episode

When dealing with medical professionals and insurance companies, Dorothy’s experience mirrors how many with CFS go from doctor to doctor to find the answer. All the while, their insurance company works to delegitimize the severity of their symptoms.

At Share Lawyers, we have extensive experience working for those who are told their illness is not “good enough” for them to qualify for long term disability benefits. We are sad to hear when people just give up and feel like they can’t fight the company. But like Dorothy, we know that no one deserves to be treated that way. No one. That’s why we’re here with the support of a whole team to implement our legal services and knowledge to fight for you.


Has your long-term disability claim been denied? Contact Share Lawyers and put our experience to work for you. We offer free consultations and there are no fees unless we win your case. Find out if you have a disability case.

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