Jordana M. - Diagnosed at age 35
After having three babies in three years, I was exhausted. But my tiredness felt different – my joints were swollen and stiff. Tests determined it was rheumatoid arthritis, but since then I’ve also been diagnosed with lupus, fibromyalgia, and Raynaud’s phenomenon.
Over several years, my health challenges piled on. Medications didn’t help. I had debilitating migraines and complete loss of hearing in one ear. I tried many different things, conventional and holistic, to try to make my symptoms go away.
Traditional Western doctors said, ‘your organs aren’t failing, so that’s not as bad as some people. Eastern medicine practitioners said, ‘this is the worst case we’ve seen.’ I didn’t know what to think.
I learned to take naps to avoid migraines, but I had new symptoms like reactions to sunlight and fluorescent lighting. It turned out to be sensitivity from UV light exposure, a symptom of lupus.
I continued to grapple with these changes and found a health coaching program that uses self-tracking data to determine specific symptom triggers. I was paired with a coach who helped me determine mine.
I do the opposite of what people consider “healthy”, like counting steps, so I get less, not more. My autoimmunity means I can’t get too much exercise without consequences. And unlike people “going vegetarian” or gluten-free, I need animal protein and gluten to avoid flares.
Self-tracking also alerted me to eliminate fructose, dairy, corn, and potato starches. Narrowing everything down to avoid triggers took time, but my coaches helped me understand what foods better suited my needs. After years of trial and error, I now have a better sense of how to avoid a flare.
Having a dedicated coach has been invaluable. Beyond helping me discover and manage my triggers, having someone believe me and listen has made a difference.
I’ve learned it’s possible to improve your quality of life. You need to try everything because everyone is different. I’ve also gotten more comfortable being kind to myself and taking care of my needs.
My message for others living with autoimmune disorders is that you must trust yourself and believe your body to begin finding answers. Don’t give up. This is your life - you might be surprised to find it’s possible to live it on your terms.