Friday, February 27, 2009

Generic biologics! Thanks, POTUS!

This just in from the WSJ - Obama's new budget includes increased funding to fast track the creation of generic biologic drugs. Here's the article.

Why is this exciting, you may ask? Biologics (like Humira, Embrel, and Remicade) are the newest form of treatment for many of us with autoimmune diseases, and they are also prohibitively expensive. I'm very lucky that our family's insurance covers my Humira shot twice a month. According to one website, the cost of Humira runs $1662 a month. That's almost as much as our mortgage. My co-pay for it is already $60 a shot.

This item in the budget is great news for those of use who lead more normal lives thanks to biologics.

However, note this line in the last paragraph of the WSJ article:
Makers of brand-name biotech drugs say the copies aren't identical to the originals and should undergo rigorous examinations to ensure safety.
If I understand it, the process for making biologics is very organic. These drugs are cooked up in big vats, all started from the same set of cells etc. And there's essentially just one vat for each unique drug. It reminds me a bit of Oompa-loompas, or yogurt starter - you gotta have a little bit of the magic goop to make that exact drug. And unless drug companies are willing to share their magic goop, the generic drugs won't be exactly the same as the originals. So I suspect these generics are long time coming... lots of research needs to go into each one to ensure that it is safe and that it works.

But still, thanks POTUS, for being forward thinking.

n=1 - the autoimmune cat

So I was reminded by one of my three faithful readers that I had not given an update on George, my sick cat. As you may recall, when we sent him in to get his teeth cleaned last week, we found out he was really sick. His preliminary test results looked suspiciously like some kind of auto-immune hanky-panky, similar to the hanky-panky which plagues my husband and myself.

Well, the newest test results are in and they are... inconclusive. His "autoimmune" test came back borderline positive. Not high, not even kinda positive, but sortof maybe positive. So our vet thinks he has lymphoma.

I would just let this sleeping dog lie, except... when the husband and I were both sick several years ago with our mystery illnesses, the docs were convinced that both of us, separately, had lymphoma. Soon after these illnesses abated in us, our auto-immune problems really flared.

Once again, I refuse to be a hysteric, and will try to stick to my role as data gatherer. However, it is food for thought.

Speaking of food for thought, though, we've started George on an all wet food diet. He thinks he's already died and gone to heaven, and he looks better than he has in weeks. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Take your medicine, folks!

A recent article in the Journal "Arthritis Research and Therapy" demonstrated, unsurprisingly, that folks with Rheumatoid Arthritis who were more consistent at taking their DMARDs (Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs) do have better prognoses - they feel better sooner, and have less structural damage. The subjects in this study had just been diagnosed, and were followed over two years.

The key point of this article was that younger patients were more likely to stay on their drugs than older patients.

My two cents - have any of you been on methotrexate? Many rheumatologists and patients love this drug, but it was my personal nightmare. I took it weekly for 6 weeks, and for three days each week I was nauseated, dizzy, exhausted, and had rampant diarrhea. I'm in my early 40s, and not frail by any means. I can imagine that for folks with compromised health already some of these drugs are worse than the disease. I think about my grandparents, who as they have gotten older are more forgetful and less tolerant of side effects. The article calls for more investigation into how to increase medication compliance - and this is especially true for older people.

So, if you can, don't give up on your meds too quickly. Build a support system to get yourself through the first few months, when both the pain and side effects are the worst. Many of these drugs do work. Just give them time...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Good news re: a new drug

One of the psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis drugs currently in clinical trials (ustekinumab) seems to be doing well - here's the article.

I'm still waiting for the drug that is helping 90% of people who try it, however. The fact that these drugs only help 60% reinforces my belief that this disease is a tricky one, and there is more than meets the eye in understanding all the underlying processes involved.

BTW - according to Wikipedia, Ustekinumab targets IL-12 and IL-23 - some of our genes to watch out for.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A rose by any other name... would be something else?

The New York Times had a fascinating article in their magazine this weekend about the Undiagnosed Diseases Program sponsored by the N.I.H. The article focused on a 31 year old woman named Summer Stiers in declining health, who has spent the last 20 being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed by well-intentioned physicians. She was frequently misdiagnosed with autoimmune conditions, because her symptoms just scream "autoimmune".

The article followed her disease progression, and her experiences in Bethesda, MD being examined by a constellation of specialists from the N.I.H.

There were countless fascinating aspects of this article - I recommend you take the time to read through it. However, what stood out most to me was the difficulty physicians have in making accurate diagnoses, even now, with all of our tools and experience. The article highlights how the N.I.H. is trying to advance knowledge about both specific illnesses and the diagnostic process through the Undiagnosed Diseases Program, and it brings home how complicated the jobs of physicians AND patients are when addressed a complicated array of symptoms.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how fractured and fragmented our current of system of diagnostics are, and the article on Summer Stiers included a great discussion of this problem. Forgive the long quote - this is from page 5 - but I found this so interesting, esp in light of diagnostics in the field of autoimmunology (italics mine):
The balkanization of medicine accounts for an increasingly constrained approach to diagnosis — an approach that... is defined by a specialist’s focused knowledge rather than by some broader understanding of the patient. “This is partly because of how medicine is taught — how it has to be taught,” said Kathryn Montgomery, professor of medical humanities and bioethics and of medicine at the Northwestern University medical school in Chicago, when we spoke by telephone. “Doctors get educated to solve problems in their own terms. They’ve got only a certain set of information and experience at their disposal.”

Few physicians are trained to look at the patient as a whole, Montgomery says, with the exception of generalists like internists and pediatricians. ...

But the problem is not just overspecialization, Montgomery says; it’s the complex nature of diagnosis itself, and the difficulty of trying to teach the process in medical school. Because diagnosis involves so many intersecting and often incompatible parts, medical students have traditionally been taught to do opposite things at once when they meet a new patient: suspend judgment, but form an initial impression; look for a single diagnosis to explain all symptoms, but watch for co-morbidities; avoid the anecdotal, but pay attention to stories; expect the diagnosis to be a common disease, but don’t forget the rare ones. This dissonant approach was recently modified in some medical schools, according to Montgomery, with students now taught to begin with a “working diagnosis” that they refine as they accumulate data that either confirm or refute their first guess. But while the working-diagnosis method might clarify some things, Montgomery worries about what might be lost: a sense, as she wrote in her 2006 book, “How Doctors Think: Clinical Judgment and the Practice of Medicine,” of an alternative pathway. Because of the inherent contradictions traditionally taught in medical school, she wrote, new doctors have been able to achieve “a certain balance, a consciousness that, no matter which way they may work through a diagnosis, there is another way.”

As patients, we see similar contradictions in our roles of finding the right doctors. Do I find an older doctor... someone with lots of clinical experience? Or should I turn to someone who is fairly new out of school, who has fresh knowledge on the most modern techniques and research? Do I find a generalist or a specialist? Do I look to someone who is alternative in their approach, or have two separate doctors, one representing the "western" approach and one representing an alternative approach? When meeting a doctor for the first time, do I tell them my whole complicated history, or just focus on the day's issues?

This makes me more and more convinced that I am my own boss re: my health (see "I'm canceling everybody"). Doctors, by the very fact that they are human with limited brain-space, are fallible. We have to be our own agents, and rely on our doctors as we would rely on consultants. We have to be our own Chief Information Officers.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Psoriasis drug has a new warning

I think all of us who have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis are grateful for the scientists and companies out there who are trying to find cures for our diseases. Thank you, biotech and biopharm.

However, yesterday's news the FDA is putting out a public health advisory about Raptiva (a psoriasis drug) because it has been linked to a fatal brain infection makes me wish that we were focusing as much on prevention as treatment.

The European FDA is pulling the drug altogether.

From WebMD (italics mine):
Raptiva is a once-weekly injection for adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis who are candidates for systemic (whole body) therapy or phototherapy. Raptiva suppresses T-cells, which are part of the immune system, to curb psoriasis. Suppressing T-cells increases a patient's susceptibility to infections.
When I expressed concern to one of my doctors about taking strong drugs potentially for the rest of my life, he held his hands out like a scale. On the one hand, the symptoms and risks of Psoriatic Arthritis. On the other hand, side effects and risks of the treatment.

"You have to weigh all the elements, all the plusses and negatives of treatment vs. non-treatment" he said. "Which is worse? It isn't that simple".

I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sadly, the plot thickens

I'm back to reading The Autoimmune Epidemic religiously. In a previous post I discuss this book's main theme - that we are seeing an increase in autoimmune disease in our country in part because of an increase in exposure to toxic elements in our environment... from pesticides, chemicals, etc. The author provides compelling evidence that autoimmune diseases cluster in environments with more toxic waste.

I'm focused on this book because in the last few days I found out my beloved old cat, George, is pretty sick. Its his liver, his kidney, his heart, he's lost 4 pounds in 6 months... systemic yucky. Well, all the tests so far point to an autoimmune disease. No sign of cancer, no sign of thyroid problems, no heart disease.

I'm trying desperately hard not to be hysteric about this. I choose to rely on data and science, when I can. And, I'm a firm believer in "Med Student's Disease": when you read about a disease, you pretty much tend to think you have it. I'm anti-hypochondriasis...

But the coincidences demand a second glance.
  • My cat probably has an autoimmune disease.
  • My husband got diagnosed with Crohn's Disease (an autoimmune disease) 3 years ago.
  • I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis (an autoimmune disease) in the last year.
  • I had weird autoimmune like symptoms over the last few years: mono like symptoms one year, and then the next year crazy leg and foot swelling and horrible pain, and low grade fever and fatigue. The docs never quite figured out what it was - but my husband had a version of it too...
Now, I'm not a hysteric. I'm a scientist. But I'm not going to let this one go... not yet. Let's see how George's tests come out tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Itchy itchy scratchy

Yesterday US News and World Report published an article about the link between shingles and some of the common biologics used to treat Psoriatic Arthritis. Apparently it's been demonstrated that older folks with Rheumatoid Arthritis who were on anti-TNF drugs (Humira being one, and also Remicade) were twice as likely to develop herpes zoster (aka shingles). The link to the news article is here.

Now, N=1 of course, I can report that since being on Humira I've had 4 cold sores. 4 cold sores in 4 months. My usual rate of cold sores is about 1 every two years. Herpes in the mouth is herpes simplex 1 (usually), and herpes zoster is herpes type 3... they are slightly different viruses in the Herpesviridae family. But I think I can say that because I am now immunosuppressed, my body is less likely to be able to control a "creepy" virus like herpes (the Greek word herpein means "to creep").

What I was pleased to see is the news article I cite above is that the FDA is going to commit a lot more time to studying these Anti-TNF drugs so many of us are using. They are life-savers for many, but we need to be sure they are safe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm sick because I'm a lefty?

I stumbled across this fact while reading Women and Autoimmune Disease and couldn't believe my eyes. So I did some investigating, and it's true: being left handed is strongly correlated with autoimmune illness. Here's the link to the study, and a clip from the abstract:
Geschwind, Galaburda, and Behan (GBG) have suggested that in utero levels of testosterone influence both cerebral and immune system developments (Geschwind and Behan, 1982; Geschwind and Galaburda, 1984; Geschwind and Galaburda, 1985). According to this theory, high levels of testosterone result in greater incidences of left-handedness, deviations from standard distribution of cerebral functions (known as anomalous dominance), and increased autoimmune dysfunction...

... First, it was predicted and found that left handers had a higher incidence of autoimmune diseases in their immediate families than did right handers. Second, those left handers with an incidence of at least one autoimmune disease were more strongly left-handed than were those with no incidence of autoimmunity.
Amazing. Watch out, lefty brothers and sisters...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Genes to watch out for

The National Psoriasis Foundation announced late last week that they had had some remarkable research findings. Briefly:

In the largest and most technologically advanced study of its kind, researchers have identified seven DNA "hotspots" that may reveal the role genetics plays in the development of psoriasis.

"This fantastic new research brings us closer to understanding the complete genetic contribution to psoriasis," said Bruce Bebo Jr., director of research for the National Psoriasis Foundation. "In addition, these findings revealed a number of potential new psoriasis targets for treatments."The seven common DNA variants, or SNPs, that have strong associations with psoriasis identified in the study are:

  • Interleukin-23A (IL23A), IL23R, IL12, IL4 and IL13—immune signaling molecules that control the strength and type of immune response
  • TNFAIP3 and TNIP1—genes that are activated by an immune signaling molecule called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), a known target for psoriasis modifying drugs.

Bebo said the Psoriasis Foundation contributed to the study by providing DNA samples from the Foundation's Tissue Bank, which was established in 1994 to house genetic material for psoriasis researchers.

I've spent a bit of time thinking about this finding, and trying to find something to say about it. What I've realized is that other than being ecstatic about it, I don't know enough yet about genes to understand and apply it to other research I'm reading. I think that probably most of us out there with PsA would feel the same.

So I'm starting a new sidebar on my blog for us genetic dunderheads, called "genes to watch out for", (inspired, of course, by this fabulous comic). I figure if I can keep a running list of those genes that seem to be important to understanding PsA, it will help me, and maybe folks who read this blog, recognize these genes as they pop up in our reading.

It also doesn't hurt that I'm married to a guy who's work revolves around genomics research. Poor guy. It's bad enough that he has to give me my Humira shot every other week. Now he has to teach me genomics. Ouch.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Look at my gift from my lovely hubby. I wish courage, good health, hope and creativity to all of you!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Article on America's Sugar Intake

Here's an article from today's New York Times about America's obsession with sugar. It goes pretty deep into the difference between corn syrup, fructose and sugar, and the politics around corn syrup. More importantly, it touches briefly on why too much sugar isn't great for anyone, and sugar's well known link to obesity.

I'm thinking a lot about the link between sugar and arthritis these days because I've been reading much about the anti-inflammatory diet, (which is a low sugar diet) and the diet's relationship with pain management in inflammatory arthritis. In addition, obesity has a huge affect on disease course in all kinds of arthritis.

So, I'm wondering... does the increase in sugar intake in the U.S. mirror the increase in environmental toxin use? Are we, as a country, inadvertently piling on more and more challenges to our immune system with chemicals and sugar??

I write this as a self-proclaimed sugar addict, and an only half-hearted crunchy granola health food eater. I LOVE them sweets. Nothing says happiness to me like some KinniToos gluten free cookies (they're Oreos for celiacs). I used to keep bags of candy in my desk drawer. I already mentioned my love affair with Swedish Fish. And I'm not the preachy type. Dig in, I say.

But I've fairly successfully given up sugar in the last 5 months. I never thought I could do it. But I did. And I can tell you... apples and strawberries do taste better when you don't eat sugar.

This is all junk-food for thought.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

you are what you eat

I'm just starting to do some reading on how anti-inflammatory diets affect inflammatory arthritis, after toying around with one of these diets for the last few months. This article from CBS presents a decent review of this diet, but also implies that as of yet most evidence of effectiveness of the diet is either anecdotal or inconclusive.

However, here's a fairly recent article which suggests that there are significant benefits to eating a gluten free, vegan diet if you have rheumatoid arthritis. The GF vegan diet is by it's nature anti-inflammatory. While we can't assume what works for RA will work for PsA, I think it can't hurt to surmise some connection between the two, because they are both types of autoimmune arthritis and they have such similar symptomology. Hey, inflammatory arthritis is inflammatory arthritis!

Myself, I'm avoiding gluten (because I'm a celiac), sugar, dairy and alcohol. I'm also trying to reduce nightshades. Anecdotally (N=1) I've found that I do feel worse on the day after I've had a sugar/dairy binge. I haven't had gluten in 15 years (on purpose at least) so I have no personal data there.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More on Salmonella and Arthritis

Just a follow-up - here's an article on how reactive arthritis works, from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). It refers to the salmonella connection.

Decent Arthritis Book

So, I want to mention this very accessible 2006 book on arthritis. I like its simplicity, really. It is a good place to start when you are first learning about arthritis in general. Lots of pictures, easy to read, assumes you're smart but uninformed about basically...(sigh)... everything. I also have found it useful to return to when I forget things - like how synovial fluid is affected in PsA, or what is gold therapy. It also has a nice section on managing flares.

Unfortunately, it only gives a brief mention to PsA.

Monday, February 9, 2009

N=1 - Humira take 2

Went to see my wonderful rheumatologist today. I really am beginning to think this woman walks on water. Of course, it doesn't take much for a doc to get my gratitude - just the basics. It's as simple as: Listen. Take me seriously. Don't hurt me. Don't make me wait for an hour to see you for 5 minutes.

Anyway, I've been on Humira now for 14 weeks. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my rheumatologist had great hopes that Humira would make me able to do "whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to". Well.... 14 weeks later, and I'm estimating I'm only about 50% there. My knees and thumb are much better, and I'm not so stiff in the morning. The depression is abating (thanks Julie). But my hips are much worse and my hands feel like flippers. Even more discouraging, the fatigue is back - I wanted to sleep for most of January. And, the psoriasis is not better, and in fact may be worse.

Feeling good for a couple of months (in my case, Nov and part of December) but then sinking back into a deep flare (January) is not where my doc wants me to be.

So we are at a decision point. Our choices are:

1) stay on Humira every other week, and see how I do in 6 weeks with an additional anti-inflammatory drug (in this case Diclofenac).
2) go to Humira every week. This means my husband gets to stick me with a needle every week instead of every other week. (Thanks Jordan).
3) switch to Remicade - get an infusion every 6 weeks, at a hospital. Much less freedom.

(By the way, for all of you alternative folks - I am also on an anti-inflammatory diet, do yoga, and exercise the best I can, as well as seeing an acupuncturist).

We chose 1, for now. I'm going to consult with my other great doc - my dermatologist - before making a move to up the Humira or switch to Remicade. And I'm going to keep pacing myself. I can't do too much, I can't do too little. It's a fine balance.

N=1: Introduction

Today I decided that while the focus of this blog will be PsA research and information, I'm also going to continue to give personal health updates here. I'm doing this for two reasons. One - I think I'm a fairly typical PsA sufferer. Maybe some of the lessons I'm learning through my disease course can help others.

Two, I like to bitch. When you hurt every minute of every day, it feels good to complain about it. If I do it here, I may be able to give my poor husband a break!

However, I recognize that not all of you are interested in all this personal stuff. Therefore, I've decided that whenever I make an entry that is about my healing process, I'll title it N=1. In other words - I'm just writing about me. This is not a study, or a great article, or a connection I've made. It's just: how am I doing, what's changing in my disease and treatment, what hurts today and what am I gonna do about it.

Feel free to read or avoid N=1. I'll try not to get too graphic, but I can't make any promises

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Salmonella and arthritis

Ok, ok, so I wasn't going to write on the weekends. But I want to make sure to write this one down before I forget it in the haze of my day.

I'm reading the Sunday Paper, and just came across an article on the national salmonella outbreak. Apparently, some victims have now developed arthritis from the salmonella. To quote:
Dr. W. Hayes Wilson, chief of rheumatology and Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, said some people born with the HLA-B27 antigen on their cells are predisposed to developing reactive arthritis after suffering from bacterial infections, including salmonellosis.

"Genetics are the loaded gun. Salmonella pulls the trigger" Wilson said.
I'm not quite sure what to make of this yet, but it seems like a relevant piece of the puzzle. I can only assume that either the salmonella continues to live in the body, causing the arthritis, OR more likely - the antigen triggers the autoimmune process.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Autoimmune emergency

I'm now simultaneously reading three books - the two mentioned in my post on Tuesday, and a new one - the Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. In the introduction, Douglas Kerr, MD, PhD (he's the director of the John's Hopkins Transverse Myelitis Center) compares this book to Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth. He claims that Autoimmune Disease is becoming an epidemic in this country. One in 12 Americans, (and one in 9 women) will be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Those numbers are higher than our country's cancer rates and rates of heart disease. Even more shocking, in the last 30 years, the occurrence of these diseases has more than doubled, and may continue to increase if we don't put a stop to what may be causing this epidemic - environmental toxins.

Ms. Nazakawa, who has autoimmune disease herself, has written an incredible book. She cites both the most current research, and some of the best and brightest scientists in this field, to conclusively demonstrate that toxins in our everyday environment are causing an increase in autoimmune disease. Toxins like... pesticides on our food, plastics, chemicals in hair dye and in the foam mattresses we sleep on, exhaust from cars. And she's got the data to go along with it.

Here's what I found fascinating...It wasn't until roughly 50 years ago that it was recognized that our bodies could turn on themselves, which is essentially what autoimmune disease is. Instead of fighting toxins, our T cells (and other parts of our complex immune system) turn on our own cells, mistaking them for enemies within. But once the autoimmune process was demonstrated in the lab, each medical specialty laid claim on the autoimmune diseases closest to their work: e.g. rheumatology took the arthritises, gastro took crohns and celiac, derma took psoriasis. Unfortunately, there weren't many people left looking at autoimmune disease in general, at how it works, and how can it be controlled and prevented. So we're a bit behind in understanding the autoimmune process, let alone the immune system in general. But meanwhile - in the last 50 years, we have increased our use of environmental chemicals exponentially.

Fortunately, there are a few fabulous scientists out there studying the autoimmune process in our bodies, and in the last 10 years there has been a huge increase in research, especially in immunotoxicology. Ms. Nakazawa describes in lay language many current findings - she does a great job making a complicated process understandable.

I really recommend this book. It will scare the pants off of you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mistakes were made

Like our fabulous new president, I'm not afraid to admit when I don't do my homework and make an assumptions about those close to me. Like Obama, I can admit a mistake. In Obama's case, it was Tom Daschle. In my case, it was Lymphocytic Colitis (LC - damn it's hard to type Lymphocytic Colitis).

In a previous post, I mentioned that I had several auto-immune disorders, including LC. However, according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), LC is not an autoimmune disorder. Or at least it's not listed on their website as an autoimmune disease.

Not yet, anyway.

According to the Mayo Clinic, LC occurs frequently in folks who already have other autoimmune issues, including Rheumatoid Arthritis and Celiac Disease. LC is, for many people, a mild and treatable condition. But it also involves inflammation, which I'm learning is a hallmark of many autoimmune diseases. I suspect it will make the AARDA list soon.

BTW - I'm recently enamored of the AARDA.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Thanks Mom

My lovely husband sent me this article in the NYT yesterday (here) . I'll let you all read it for yourselves, but the gist of the article is:

Researchers have long wondered how pregnant women might shape their fetuses’ development — by protecting them against later disease, perhaps, or instilling an appreciation of Mozart.

Now a group in California has discovered a surprising new mechanism by which women train their fetuses’ budding immune systems: the mother’s cells slip across the placenta, enter the fetus’s body and teach it to treat these cells as its own.

A crucial task of the developing immune system is to learn to distinguish between foreign substances and the self. It is tricky: the system must respond to outside threats but not overreact to harmless stimuli or the body’s own tissues.

The new findings show “how Mom is helping to tune that whole system early on,” said William J. Burlingham, an immunologist at the University of Wisconsin, who is not connected with the research. “It’s a major advance, very new and very exciting.”

The work could have relevance to research on topics as diverse as organ transplantation, mother-to-child transmission of H.I.V. and autoimmune disorders like Type 1 diabetes.
Now, I haven't started talking about T cells here yet - I still don't get it all myself. I'm learning that the immune system is incredibly complicated, and every book I read describes it differently. I'll write more about it as I understand it more. BUT... the take away I got from this article was:

1) our first immune responses are learned from our mothers, when we are in utero. This research will greatly enhance our understanding about how these first lessons are taught, and maybe how the immune system learns in general.

This article also illustrates the reverse of what I was talking about in yesterday's post. Not only does the mother's immune system have to be tolerant of the child it is hosting, but the child's immune system has to learn to be tolerant of its mother.

Now if I could only get Zoe to tolerate me!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New Directions

Recently I've become convinced that I don't have Celiac Disease, AND Psoriatic Arthritis, AND Psoriasis, AND Lymphocytic Colitis, AND a tendency towards Lymphoedema, AND some female irregularities. I'm certain that these are merely symptoms, and I've got a bigger problem on my hands. It turns out all of my fun conditions are auto-immune related. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I feel like all of these diseases are a gang of thugs... and I want to find the leader of the pack, and give him or her a black eye.

So for the next few weeks I'm going to be doing a lot of reading and writing about Auto-Immune Diseases. I'm currently reading two books on Women and Autoimmune disease (here and here), and am amazed by what I'm finding out. Women suffer from autoimmune diseases far more often then men, and it is hypothesized (by the authors of these two books) that this is in part because of our ability to bear children. Just think - for 9 months our bodies house a child who is made up of 50% foreign substance - and our bodies have to recognize that and not destroy that foreigner. Therefore, our immune systems are much more complicated then men's. And, as Lahita and Yalof mention - a machine with lots of buttons is more likely to break than a machine with just a few. We girls are just more complicated.

Well, anyone could have told you that...

Monday, February 2, 2009

So, this is me, officially launching my campaign with I THINK I CAN!

Go here to learn more:

Jenny's Campaign

And thank you to everyone who is supporting me!

Today also starts a shift in the website - away from complaining about how I feel, and towards more data and useful information.

(although I can't promise not to bitch every now and again).

Bear with me as I learn how to use "blogger" - the Google blog software. I'll update the website with more bells and whistles as I get more savvy.

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