AutoImmune De Jour

1st Course: Hashimoto’s Disease

About 25 years ago, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease. Now, I can’t even say what precluded the testing for this thyroid disorder. It was determined that I had an underactive thyroid as a result of this autoimmune disease’s damage to my thyroid. The endocrinologist prescribed levothyroxine and I’ve been on it ever since.

2nd Course: Celiac Disease

After 5-10 years of blood tests that habitually showed I was anemic, dehydrated, and malnourished, I finally was diagnosed with celiac disease. That diagnosis I recall very well, because I was shocked. I thought people with celiac disease were skinny, looked ill, and had lots and lots of gastrointestinal issues. That did not describe me. Prior to the diagnosis, my general doctor had a suspicion and referred me to a gastroenterologist. Seeing my stats, he had the same suspicion. Me, I disagreed, but played along . I agreed to do the two scopes (up and down) to check out my digestive tract. It was like an Easter Egg Hunt…they were looking for hidden damage. Well, the damage wasn’t so hidden. I clearly had celiac disease. When I went in to hear the results, I walked out of his office and went gluten free cold turkey. Ugh…that sucked and still does. But, like someone in a cult, I am a loyal follower.

3rd Course: Osteoarthritis

Yuck, this is the worst part of the meal. This is what has me looking down the barrel of a full hip replacement in the next 6 months. It felt like it came out of nowhere, but specialists tell me that’s doubtful. “You must have had discomfort….?” Hmmm, no I don’t think so. But, I was told a long time ago that I have a high pain tolerance. Maybe there was pain during the development, but it only registered when it hit the moderate-advanced stage? I don’t know. I say that I believe it came out of nowhere and I’m sticking with it. Now, I definitely feel the pain. Like all. the. time.

The Common Ingredient

There is vast evidence that once you are diagnosed with one autoimmune disease, you’re more likely to be diagnosed with others. This is called co-morbidity. Several little cooks in my body preparing a meal…just for me!

Like a lot of people who are faced with challenging health issues, you wonder, “Whyyyy mmmmeeee??” Ugh, I have those moments. Then, I pull my whiny ass together and remember there are people with a whole lot worse health situations, like Joseph Merrick. That guy’s life was so sad. Maybe you saw the movie about him in the 80s? John Hurt was amazing in that movie. I can’t imagine how long it took for them to do the prosthetics. His issues were way worse than anything I am dealing with!

However, my wonderings have led me to ask questions, especially since the diagnosis of advanced osteoarthritis. I was about 47 when I was first diagnosed and in the last 5 years it’s gotten progressively worse, especially in the past year. So, why?

I keep going back to the celiac disease.

Europe and the Mediterranean have been researching celiac (coeliac) disease for a really long time. More so than the United States. All the way back in 1996, a researcher (E. Lubrano) and his team published a study which confirmed the prevalence of arthritis and celiac disease. They found strong evidence that celiac disease can be a root cause for the early onset of arthritis. In fact, it’s thought to be one of the leading causes of arthritis in children and teens.

Am I Satiated?

Well, it’s hard to say if I am satisfied with maybe having an answer to the “WHY?”. It doesn’t change much. In the end, I think all this paired with the short stick I’ve drawn for the genetic predisposition for arthritis makes me who I am. An adversarial invalid. I think I’ll pass on the dessert, I’m kinda full.

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