I have mentioned before that I work in an office of less than 40 people and of those people we have 1 with crohn’s, 1 with Type 1 diabetes, 1 with RA, 1 with Lupus and myself with MCTD. The percentage of autoimmune is high in this office but we just added one to the list. Now I have a co-worker with chronic hives that has been linked to an autoimmune disease. Granted there isn’t an autoimmune called hives so this is a symptom of some other autoimmune disease she has that hasn’t surfaced yet other then the hives. She was told that only 1% of people with chronic hives find out what the real issue is. To hear those odds one would bet she won’t ever find out what is causing her hives and how frustrating it is to not know. Many times we just need a name to go along with our illness so we can identify with it and start to manage it. I believe for myself if someone said you will never know what you have but expect to feel terrible at random moments in your life with various pains, burns, and sickness it would be very difficult to mentally get a handle on it.
Having a name and knowing that I have MCTD I can identify with it as part of who I am and go forward to manage it in whatever way works best for me. She has started her first round of a “medication cocktail” to see what combo works and what doesn’t and go from there. She said to me that she thought once she had the drugs that it would go away and that would be that. I explained to her that this is not like strep throat where you take an antibiotic and in a few days everything if fine and you are back to normal. Autoimmune diseases can take many years to figure out whom to manage them and live with them. Our “medication cocktail” as referred to by her doctor is so different for everyone even with the same name of the disease and the trial and error of life is constant. This popped up for this woman in her 40’s and with everything else that a woman deals with in this age group it seems almost unfair to ask her to deal with chronic hives but that is the way life goes for some of us.
As I look around and hear people talk about their lives it seems to me that the percentage of people getting autoimmune diseases is on the rise but I make no claims to be an expert, just and expert listener.