A Mysterious Illness Left Doug Lindsay Bedridden, So He Developed a New Surgery to Cure Himself
03 Mar 2022
What happens when you have an unidentifiable illness that leaves doctors baffled and with no idea how to help? If you are APB speaker Doug Lindsay, you figure out what’s wrong and invent a surgery to cure yourself.
Recently, BBC Outlet, a radio show that tells first-person stories from around the world, rebroadcast the remarkable story of Lindsay. He was originally interviewed in 2019.
Lindsay spent his childhood taking care of his mother and aunt. Both suffered from an unknown disease that left them too weak to leave the house or walk up the stairs. Doctors had no idea what was wrong. At 21, Lindsay started having the same symptoms. He had to quit school and spent the next 11 years mostly confined to a hospital bed with no answers from the doctors.
Instead of giving up, though, Lindsay began researching on his own to find out what was wrong. He spent every minute reading medical and scientific journals. “When I realized the medical system didn’t have a plan for me or my family, I made one for us,” he says. “I researched our conditions and collaborated with doctors and scientists. I figured out our problems involved the autonomic nervous system and the adrenal glands, and then I figured out what to do about it for each of us.”
Figured out, indeed. Lindsay collaborated with 35 senior faculty at 28 institutions trying to learn what was wrong. He developed new uses for five existing prescription drugs and two successful, innovative adrenal surgeries.
All of his work took Lindsay from a wheelchair to walking and back to school. His mom, who doctors predicted only had six months, lived another eight years because of his research. And his aunt is healthier now in her 70s than she has been since her 20s because Lindsay developed a new use for an old drug for her case.
Today, Lindsay is a nationally known speaker who has been on stage at TEDx, Stanford Medicine X, Dell Medical School—The University of Texas at Austin, and other locations. “People thought the things I was trying to do were impossible,” Lindsay says. “But I proved them wrong. First I got us answers, and then I got us help.”