Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sjogren's Syndrome

One year ago I was unhealthy and for 6 ½ years leading up to that point had suffered terribly from a multitude of undiagnosed illnesses…I was a “Doctors Dream.” Unfortunately for them, a persistent one.  Doctor after Doctor attempted to convince me there was nothing wrong with me, that I “just had anxiety” and a quick fix of an antidepressant should cure whatever it was that ailed me.  Instinctually I knew they were wrong, I held my ground, rebutted and refused the insensitive offer of drugs that would only pacify me and later exacerbate the problems. I knew better and if it killed me trying I was on a mission to “solve my own case” and prove the Doctors wrong.    

For 6 ½ years I fled Doctor’s offices in tears and probably developed a bit of anxiety just from the trauma.   Finally with a full blown case of my “mysterious ailment,” last January I turned to the computer for answers.  I was suffering from dryness symptoms and when I was ill with a cold or flu it was in “attack mode.” Dry eyes, nose and mouth so severe I could not properly digest my food causing acid reflux, etc; my eyes were prone to light hypersensitivity, therefore causing ocular migraines that would leave me half blind and scared to death.  My nose had recurring and unexplainable infections and nosebleeds.  I was desperate.  On my computer I did an internet search for .  There in the sites search engine I typed the words “DRY MOUTH.”  A disorder called “Sjogren’s Syndrome” popped up in an instant on the screen, as I anxiously scanned the list of symptoms my heart sank to my feet and my eyes welled up with tears, I felt as if a 100 lb. weight had miraculously been lifted off my shoulders.  There before my very eyes, was my “life”  and “list” of medical complaints.  Without delay I headed to the Sjogren’s  Syndrome  Foundation website  for more answers, where to seek treatment and who in fact could  really help me.  The answer was a Rheumatologist. As if I had an angel on my shoulder, the countries Chief Rheumatologist of the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation was practicing his specialty right here in Pennsylvania at U Penn.  With a desperate pursuit of affirmation and inner peace, I would look no further.  I clutched the cordless phone as if it were a gold brick and expeditiously dialed Dr. Frederick Vivino, Chief of Rheumatology for the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation.

Although it took me 6 months of being wait-listed just to get an appointment, it was well worth the wait.  Dr. Vivino and his team of experts at U Penn Hospital diagnosed me with Sjogren’s Syndrome.  Although not life threatening, “SS” is treatable.    I have since educated four friends whom were with suffering with similar symptoms, all of which have received the same diagnosis.  I am elated to know I’m really not so crazy after all!

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