March is National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month. For some suffering from an autoimmune disease, their mixed bag of symptoms can make an immediate diagnosis difficult. Because, individually, symptoms may appear innocent, it is not always clear what has gone awry. Primary care physicians are generalists. They see patients with a broad range of ailments, but they do not specialize. Once a patient and his medical professional team narrow down the possible causes of their health issues and concerns, their PCP will refer them to the appropriate specialist.
But the journey to even begin medical treatment is not always clear cut.
You may wake up one morning and take note of how unexplainably exhausted you have felt recently to which your doctor may say, “drink some coffee”, or maybe you’ll experience the onset of sudden, brutal headaches that interrupt your day and your doctor may tell you “don’t stress so much”. Maybe you’ll experience debilitating pain that leaves you unable to move, let alone function and when you try to explain that symptom along with all of the other symptoms, your doctor may look at you confusedly and make you feel like it’s all in your head.
Or maybe, if you’re lucky, your doctor will listen to all of your symptoms, take you seriously, and work with you.
You’ll go through getting bloodwork and tests done and you still may not reach an accurate diagnosis right away. Don’t get discouraged. Stay on top of your health and the doctors! Keep listening to your body; it knows best and will let you know when something is off.
Sometimes you will be misdiagnosed until physical symptoms occur manifest. The problem with this is that by that time, irreversible damage to your body may have already occurred.
The road to discovering your autoimmune disease can be difficult and confusing. For too long, you may have written off feeling sick, sluggish, depressed, and not your old self as unrelated. Maybe you even convinced yourself you’re just having a bad week or month. Autoimmune diseases strike out of no where and its effects can often be felt immediately. Often it takes years before realizing something is seriously wrong and then the next uphill battle is actually figuring out exactly what is going on.
This road will not be easy so make sure you’re comfortable with your doctors and never feel guilty for switching PCP’s, surgeons, or specialists if you do not feel they have a good bedside manner, are attentive and respectful of your journey, or if you just feel like they are not on your side. You need a medical team who you will feel comfortable with.
Get to the root of your health issues because by discovering the source, we uncover knowledge on how to address and treat. You deserve answers, you deserve peace.
Listen to your body and take care of it. It depends on you.