Chances are good that you know someone who has an autoimmune disease. You may have one yourself. Or even two. After all, having one autoimmune disease, which I’ll abbreviate as AD going forward, increases the likelihood of developing a second one.
Or perhaps you suffer from symptoms that seem vague, could readily be chalked up to stress or a busy lifestyle, or come and go over time. Marked fatigue, joint pain, digestive issues, poor sleep, susceptibility to colds and flus, zero stress tolerance. The list goes on and on.
It’s not uncommon for AD’s to smolder under the surface for years, creating just enough discomfort to put a cramp in your mood, energy, and overall well being. Juuuuust enough discomfort to have you reaching for the ibuprofen bottle on a more-frequent-than-you’d-like basis, or to necessitate your non-negotiable thrice-daily trips to the coffee maker. But perhaps not enough discomfort to compel you to seek medical attention. Or, if you do, you find yourself summarily dismissed, or worse – shuttled from doctor to doctor, each one providing less clarity and direction than the one before.
Everyone’s situation is different, so I am by no means speaking in absolutes, but this situation is not atypical, and likely more the rule than the exception. AD’s tend to percolate at a low, barely perceptible and highly ignore-able level for years before a diagnosis is reached. Sadly, by this time, symptoms are often debilitating, not just physically but also mentally and emotionally.
Try to push this square peg of a symptomatic picture into the round hole of the medical system that is not set up in a way that properly addresses the unique, intricate and shape-shifting needs of AD patients, and you can see how autoimmunity has evolved into the growing challenge that it is.
There are now more than 100 – ONE HUNDRED! – recognized autoimmune conditions, and given the research that is underway, it is not unreasonable to venture that many more will be identified in coming years. While there are strong correlations, and many more theories, there is no known definitive cause, nor is there a cure for autoimmunity.
Autoimmune disease constitutes a crisis of epic proportions.
It is because there are so many more questions than answers, and because there are so many unmet needs that I have long been an impassioned researcher of autoimmunity. And why I am constantly honing my knowledge and skill as a practitioner who treats patients suffering from AD’s. So much so that two years ago, I chose to focus my graduate thesis on the topic.
And I want to share what I learned with you here. And continue to add to this catalogue of research, actionable insights and self-care recommendations as I motor through emerging research and ongoing clinical practice.
As a starting point, the modules below comprise the basis of my graduate research, and while they may be a bit science-y for those hoping for more of a leisurely read, I do believe there is something for everyone in this material, whether the objective is education, validation, solidarity, or hope that the future might yield days less defined by pain, uncertainty, and stress.