My enemy is my friend…

Living with autoimmune diseases is a never ending journey.  I’ve had people tell me that “But you don’t look sick”, and “Do you know that you are limping?”…hmmmm….you really think I didn’t know that I was limping?

Each day is a journey because I never really know how I will be feeling.  It’s the same with my dog, Georgia.  Yesterday was an amazing day for her.  Very few bouts of head rubbing or scratching.  She slept but was almost playful at times.  I didn’t know how much I missed that.  Today is a different story.  She is tired and grumpy and is running around the house whacking her head on table legs and and the steps.  It’s so disheartening to see her in pain.  I constantly think back and remember that there was a time when I wouldn’t tell people that I felt good.  I always thought that I was letting them down when I suddenly wouldn’t feel good.  I’m feeling the same way about Georgia.  Setting limits on my hopes for her good health.  Then no one will be disappointed if it doesn’t work out well.  I do think Georgia and I were meant to be together.  I understand her pain and she gives me comfort just by being near me.

I’m so used to living with pain that I sort of feel lost when I am pain free.  Not that I miss the pain, it’s just that I feel so different without it.  It’s almost like my enemy is my friend…even when I don’t want it to be.

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Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

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