Last year was the second time I went through the unwanted experience of struggling with health issues because of autoimmune problems. Fortunately, Celiacs is one that is not as serious as other autoimmune diseases like lupus or MS. But the symptoms for me were severe until I found out and became gluten free. During the months before diagnosis I went through the maze of doctor appointments and testing.
The first time I went through autoimmune problems, symptoms, doctors, and testing was in 1993 to 1995. By the time the cause was discovered, I was heading to heart, kidney, and live failure. The test results were dismal. For example, my cholesterol was 413. Fortunately, it was a simple autoimmune problem to manage. I found out I have hypothyroidism, so I take a pill each day.
Both times I tried not to focus on just myself, but instead, on my calling to serve others as a teacher and in ministry. Last year as I went through the months of pain, skin rashes, and other issues related to Celiacs, what kept me going was the thought of my students.
The picture above is of me sitting in front of a calendar my students made in my morning class. It is a class of moms I teach in the mornings at the school where their children go. They come to learn English, so they can help their children. Living with the pain before diagnosis getting out of bed was not something I enjoyed, but it was the thought of ‘my moms’ as I call my students that got me out of bed.
I didn’t tell them anything. The focus is on them and their needs not on me. So the classroom still had laughter, learning, and community. I didn’t tell them until we returned in September after I was diagnosed. I only told them because sometimes we have food days and I wanted to explain that there are foods I cannot eat anymore.
What keeps you going as you live with autoimmune problems?