Friday, January 4, 2019

My Sjogren's Syndrome Journey

So in November I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder... Sjogren's Syndrome. 

Sjogren's (pronounced SHOW-grins)  is an autoimmune disorder in which your body's white blood cells attack glands in the body that make moisture. It usually attacks the glands and mucous membrane of the eyes and mouth. It can also damage other parts of a person's body: joints, kidneys, thyroid, lungs, skin and nerves.

My Background: 
I had been having pain and swelling in my joints ever since I was in my 20's. I would wake up with a swollen joint (fingers, wrist, knees, ankle, toes) and the pain would take a while to go away. The only thing that would help would be rest and ibuprofen. At times I would not be able to bend that joint without severe pain. There were times I had to take off work due to my knee being swollen. However, this was a rare occurrence.

After 29 and turning 30 I started noticing it was occurring more often. My dentist even noticed some white spotting on my gums and told me that means I had an immunity issue. I had 3 different sinus infections last school year and took medication each time. I thought that was to blame for the what the dentist saw. My joints started aching more though, so I was referred me to  visit a rheumatologist.

After going over my family history and blood work with the rheumatologist, I was diagnosed with Sjogren's. This is something my grandma suffered with and I inherited it.

We are still trying to rule if it is rheumatoid arthritis or Sjogren's or both. 50% of people with Sjogren's have Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. I tested negative for Lupus, but the RA tests were undetermined.

The symptoms of that I exhibit at this time are: inflammation at the joints, dry eyes and dry mouth. I have also had times of sensitivity to light or photophobia due to my dry eyes.

So far I notice the joints are worse when I drink alcohol (more than 2 drinks), and eat a too much bread. Coldness does not help either. If my hands get cold and I cannot warm them up, my finger joints will ache.

The Good News: 

Thankfully medication helps with the joints. Eye drops and mouth wash help with the other symptoms. The medication I am currently on (for a 6 month trial basis) is actually for malaria! My doctor said that one of the effects on the medicine is actually used to help patients with Rheumatoid arthritis. Since it takes a while to get into the body, I am on it for 6 months. Taken twice a day. When I first started it, the medication made me SUPER drowsy. That stopped as soon as I was taking it everyday. Now I'm 2x a day and I have no issues with that. 

There are diets to help and most of the things I already eat. I have started taking fish oil to help with the dry eyes and joint inflammation. I am reading on different ways to help with the inflammation naturally (like turmeric and ginger). I am hoping with a slight diet change and exercise my joints will improve. It would be great if I could not be on medication.

So if this is my "burden to carry" or "thorn in my side" it's not a big one. An annoyance, but it can be easily managed. Many people younger than me are dealing with a worse diagnosis.

This post is not for sympathy or attention, but for documentation for me later and to maybe help someone that has the same symptoms or diagnosis.

I believe that everything in my life can be used to glorify God and happens according to His plan.

Our God is SO SO good!

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