Below is a copy of an email I sent to my closest friends and family members as a basic explanation of my recent diagnosis with Sjogren’s syndrome. I’m sharing it with you, dearest internet, to get the word out there and as an introduction to a longer post I hope to write on the subject over the weekend. Anyways, here you go and if you have any immediate questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll respond as soon as possible.
I am sending out this lovely email because, at some point or another, you each have stated some kind of interest in what has been going on with my health. As you may or may not know, I was recently (unofficially [as I have not had a salivary biopsy and don’t really want one]) diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. But what the heck is that?
Sjogren’s is the second leading autoimmune disease and affects as many as four million Americans. When a person has Sjogren’s syndrome, their immune cells attack and destroy moisture-producing glands throughout the body leaving them with hallmark symptoms such as dry mouth and dry eyes. These symptoms can actually lead to some serious health problems if left untreated, believe it or not. These are such easy symptoms to overlook as so many different things can cause them at different times.
Right now, for the average person, it takes approximately seven years for patients to be diagnosed. One reason for the delay in diagnosis is that patients wait too long to discuss their symptoms with their doctors and brush them off. Additionally, dryness is not always at the top of the list of symptoms that physicians address with patients during visits. It usually either takes extreme changes in the body or a person who is very in-tune with their body (such as myself) to get the proper diagnosis.
In an effort to educate others about Sjogren’s and encourage people to talk to their doctors about their dryness symptoms, I volunteered to be and Awareness Ambassador for the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation. As my first step in this role, I wanted to inform and educate you all further and encourage you (especially those related to me) to talk to your doctor about any symptoms of excessive dryness you may be experiencing.
For more information about the many symptoms of Sjogren’s, beyond the dryness, and to learn how you can get involved, please check out the foundation website, the Defy the Dry campaign’s website, or shoot me an email. I’m still learning about this weird little disease, but I’d be happy to share how my doctor and I finally landed on this diagnosis based upon my other symptoms and complaints.