Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chronic(les), Part 1: Celebration

Today is my 31st birthday. In celebration I am going to do a short series on my life with two chronic, autoimmune diseases. Why are diseases worth celebrating? They are such a part of me and I haven’t really talked about them on my blog. I view my blog as a tool for me to share my thoughts and experiences about my life and the life of my family. I can’t be truly honest about my life, without sharing this part of me. I hope I can put a face to my diseases and you will learn a little bit more about me. Join me today as I celebrate my life and living it the way God designed.

An autoimmune disease occurs when your tissue is attacked by your own immune system. Your immune system is designed to attack invaders of the body, which includes infectious agents. Those with autoimmune diseases have antibodies in their blood that target their own tissue. Most autoimmune diseases are chronic, which is the case with mine. I will have them for the rest of my life. Every minute. Every day. Forever and ever. And…..I’m okay with that.

No one really knows what causes the battle within the body, but it has now happened to me twice. Both my endocrine and gastrointestinal system have been attacked by my own body. The result: Type 1 Diabetes and Ulcerative Colitis. I did not do anything to get either of these diseases. It is not my fault. This is very important to understand, for those with an autoimmune disease. It was out of my control. It is unknown what causes an autoimmune disease, but many in the medical field believe those who develop one have a genetic predisposition and it is triggered by an environmental factor, such as a virus. There can be a genetic link, but often the odds are very low. My sister also has an autoimmune disease, which she was diagnosed with two months prior to my diabetes diagnosis. Unfortunately, if you have one autoimmune disease you are more likely to develop another. Since they aren’t awards or money, I am good with the ones I’ve got!

Last week I posted a status update on facebook, that wasn’t really me. It said, “…needs to have a 30 second pity party. Sometimes having two chronic autoimmune diseases really stinks.” I don’t wallow in self pity, typically. You may hear me complain about many things, but you won’t hear me complain about my diseases very often. I kind of regret that status update. It is not the image I like to paint, nor the mentality I generally have. I was raised to deal with what was handed to me, take a moment and move on. I don’t want it to sound like my parents weren’t sensitive or caring. Actually, it is quite the opposite. They did, and still do, care about me very much and I believe that is why they raised me to not feel sorry for myself. They taught me to make the best of my situations and to use my experiences to make an impact on others. I am forever grateful for this.

I believe that my diseases have given me character, however they do not define me. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, the nurses told me, “You are not diabetic, you have diabetes.” They felt saying I was “diabetic” defined me. It let the name of the disease take a greater position than me as a person. Really, I don’t care either way. I say both. The label doesn’t matter, but my attitude does.

Please stay tuned for my next two posts, in which I will share my experiences with each disease. I hope to post them this week. Thanks for reading about my life. I hope I haven’t lost half of my readers by boring you with this info!


Tara said...

I am a random blog reader, and have enjoyed reading about your experiences in Ethiopia. I am 23 years old and also have ulcerative colitis. I would love to hear your experiences about it as I dont know any one else who has it. ;)

Shamra said...

Wow!!! You are definitely an inspiration!!! You are always so positive, I sometimes forget that you even have any issues you are struggling with and it is because you have such a great attitude about them and are so positive! I love you and truly......share more! lol