About Sjogren's Syndrome
|(c) 2015 A lot has changed since that picture above. My|
illness is invisible is still invisible and now I feel invisible.
There are two forms of Sjogren's syndrome:
- The primary disease occurs when you experience dry eyes and a dry mouth. Fatigue and joint pain can also accompany the sicca symptoms.
- The secondary disease occurs when you experience dry eyes, a dry mouth, and another associated autoimmune disease**. Sjogren's syndrome may precede lupus by many years; however, it more often occurs late in the course of lupus. Sjogren's syndrome occurs in about two people of the general population, but in 20 to 30 people who have lupus. Rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma can also be associated with Sjogren’s syndrome.
Sjogren’s syndrome is difficult to diagnose, which often means one goes years after symptoms have begun before receiving a correct diagnosis. That is what happened to me and also one of the Williams’ sisters. Environmental contributors like viruses and stress in conjunction with other factors are believed to result in the disease development and can effect the management of it.
It’s these types of diseases and conditions that prompted the development of National Invisible Illness Week (a free virtual conference), which is scheduled for September 10th through the 16th this year (2012. It's September 28th to October 4th in 2015). About two years ago, I participated in the meme 30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know. At the time I didn’t understand everything about sjogren’s, which is considered a form of lupus, and I wasn’t being treated for multiple myeloma. When you get a moment, take a peek at my 30 things.
In reviewing my list, I noticed there are some things that need to be changed, but it’s still relatively accurate two years later. I don’t feel as bad as I used to on some mornings and evenings because of the medications, and that’s a good thing!
Over the next couple of months, I’ll talk about invisible illnesses some more. I hope this post, albeit long, educated you on something that affects more people than you probably know. When you find out someone suffers from an invisible illness please don’t tell them to let you know if they need something; simply offer a helping hand. Ideas for things to do:
- “I’m going to the store, can I pick you up something?”
- If you stop by and a trashcan is overflowing or dishes need to be washed, just say, “Where are your trash bags?” or “Let me wash these dishes (or clothes!) real quick.”
- If the person has young children offer to drop off a pizza or take the kids out to lunch or something.
Believe it or not, every little bit helps and you’ll never know how much of a blessing you can be to someone who suffers in silence every single day.