The Autoimmune Journey

I’ve gone back and forth on sharing my health struggles since being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder a few years ago. It was one of the darkest seasons I have walked through to date and it changed my life in so many ways. There are a lot of people suffering, often silently, with autoimmune conditions like Lupus and too many others to name. As I have opened up about my own struggle to individuals, I have learned about others walking down a similar path. Still, I find myself trying to sweep it all under the rug…continuing on with life as normal. Continuing on is fine (because you truly have to), but I think the sweeping creates an issue. It makes us feel isolated and alone in the diagnosis and the life changes that come with it. I hope to offer a story of hope as I share various aspects of life with an autoimmune disorder. So, I am making the decision to start sharing more.

I am technically diagnosed with Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease. I have antibodies for Sjogrens but it symptomatically acts more like Lupus. The two are often closely related. I had not felt well for a large portion of my life, especially after getting ill multiple times in high school. I made it through college and a few years after college with a few symptoms. A lot started to change as I got older, and my husband (who I was dating at the time) encouraged me to go to the doctor. The story gets a little complex from that point, but I was finally able to get connected to great doctors and explore treatment options after about a year. I’m terribly stubborn and refused to take the medicine I needed for the longest time (thanks to my curiosity and the terrible stories online). I’ve battled the fear that accompanies this sort of thing. I’ve spent morning in tears because my joints ached so bad. I’ve gone from someone who loved a good tan to embracing paleness in the name of being well. I’ve felt guilty and lazy when clean eating plans have failed to make a difference. I’ve wondered if it would ever get better. And, guess what?

You adjust and life does get better. I have gotten better. I had to learn to let go of the past, of what used to be, of who I used to be. Things like this have the ability to change you. You either get better or you get bitter.

I’ve had to learn a new way of life, but that life is perhaps better than before. As I sat with my Rheumatologist for the first time, big tears in my eyes, she assured me that there would be a time of adjustment and transition. Honestly, I think knowing that was the most important part…giving myself and continuing to give myself the grace to navigate life differently. And, through it all, I’ve had to trust in the Lord’s plan for my life and his promises to protect me and watch over me. He has done just that.

-Jess

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