Hiding in plain sight….

When people look at me they never see a person who is “sick”.  I’m often told, “But you don’t look sick!”.  Who suffering from an autoimmune disease hasn’t heard that statement a few hundred times.  I try to prevent people from seeing how hard life with my body has been lately. It’s been so easy to hide how difficult the every day things are for me.  Vacuuming, dusting, organizing…it’s so overwhelming b/c I know how tired that I get.   My friends and family haven’t been to my home in 2 years.  I just don’t have the energy to clean and organize.  It’s time for a change.  I’ve been hiding for too long.  Now I’m looking for the energy to take control again.  Baby steps.  It’s time stop hiding and welcome people back into my life.

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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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