My Invisible Life
Having an autoimmune disease means that your immune system malfunctions in the way that it fights and operates. A normal immune system detects foreign bodies and viruses in the body and fights against them so that we don’t get sick, or so we get better quickly. When your immune system is compromised, it can’t distinguish between your normal body functions and foreign beings, so it decides to attack your body. In doing so, the system can attack organs and joints and deteriorate them permanently.
As chronic diseases and chronic disease management become a focus for many health systems around the nation, we are finding that the educational resources available are changing and growing as well. One, out of many, of the most confusing and difficult to diagnose chronic diseases is Fibromyalgia. Not only is the disease hard to understand, it also manifests itself differently in different people and there is no blood test or scan to diagnose the disease yet. As a result, not all providers are the best advocates and supporters for Fibromyalgia patients. Simply stated: some health care professionals don’t yet recognize Fibromyalgia as a chronic disease.
With our ever-changing weather, planning can be a difficult task for us Michiganders. Add arthritis to the mix and the weather can make you feel a bit crazy! It is said in light-heartedness that the senior population complains about their joints when it rains. In actuality, any individual that suffers from arthritis is bound to have a few complaints during inclement weather.
For those of us with MS and other chronic conditions exacerbated by heat and humidity, late summer can bring about more than just wishing for a day off to hit the beach. How can you manage this annual occurrence?
In my last blog, I promised I would share some of the tips I learned from my visit to the counseling service, Encompass, provided by my employer, Spectrum Health. I’ve also done quite a bit of reading on the work/life balance topic and tried some of my own strategies. Below are six of the ideas that best fit my lifestyle, and I hope they help you, too.
People who know me, especially those who work with me, know that I am forever on a quest for a thing called work/life balance. Recently, I felt that my balance was so far off that I turned myself into the career counseling service at Spectrum Health to see if they could do anything for me.
Fatigue is one of the most insidious symptoms of MS. It’s not as obvious as muscle incoordination or unsteady gait; it’s not as embarrassing as slurred speech or tremor; and it’s not as problematic as vision loss. It won’t necessarily put you in a wheelchair or require you to carry “barf bags” for uncontrollable vertigo with nausea (so not my favorite!). Instead, fatigue creeps into your life like a shadow you just didn’t notice you had before. It’s suddenly always with you. A new best friend you never wanted. A heavy backpack you can’t take off. It isn’t just that…
It’s Thanksgiving Eve, and as I think of all that I have to be thankful for, I ask myself if I’m one of those people that can say I’m thankful for my disease. Can I reflect on the past couple of years and say I have a newfound and deeper appreciation for life because of the lessons that living with MS has taught me? Can I say that I wouldn’t trade MS because of the wisdom it’s given me? Well, frankly, no. I like to think I’m a good person, but I’m not quite that good. If given the choice,…
I haven’t posted a blog update since December 1 of last year. There were a number of factors that contributed to my absence, but the main reason was that MS has really taken its toll on me this calendar year. I took my last dose of Tysabri in September 2011 and have been off MS meds since. My first relapse began on January 31, my daughter’s birthday. My symptoms included serious vertigo and painful electrical shocks throughout my body, leading to uncontrolled eye and muscle movements. The vertigo was bad enough to make me very sick and I rapidly lost…