So I did a thing….or two…

I haven’t blogged in a while. Recovering from pneumonia was difficult, then I caught COVID…..

After 2 years and 8 months of avoiding the dreaded virus, I tested positive. I had a mild case. Bad cold without a fever. Due to my immunocompromised status, my doctor prescribed Paxlovid, the antiviral medication. Although my COVID symptoms weren’t fun, the side effects of Paxlovid were infinitesimally worse. Have you ever been awakened from a dead sleep by your own bad breath? If so, then you have experienced Paxlovid mouth. The side effect is a garbage-like, metal, acidic burning sensation on your tongue that does not go away.

I was unaware of this side effect, so I posted about it on social media to see if anyone had suggestions. Medical sites said to suck on ice. That was insufficient. Lucky for me, I had friends and relatives who were happy to share their suggestions. It turns out that cinnamon was the only way for me to survive Paxlovid mouth. I sucked on cinnamon gummies, cinnamon gum, and hot tamales candy.

Let me be clear, I. AM. NOT. A. FAN. OF. CINNAMON. CANDY. Yet, I slept with it in my mouth every night for 5 days. I’m grateful because I tested negative relatively quickly, but I never want to go through that again.

Once I recovered, I was able to attend the annual ACR Convergence Meeting in Philadelphia along with The International Foundation for Autoimmune and Autoinflammatory Arthritis Foundation (AiArthritis). While there, I was able to reconnect with fellow patient advocates/friends. I’ve been out of the patient advocacy realm for over a year and it felt good to dip my toes back in.

Then I followed it up with a community chat with Lindsey Viscarra and Effie Koliopoulos for AiArthritis. It feels so good to be around fellow advocates and people who are passionate about Education, Advocacy, and Research for those living with autoimmune arthritis diseases. If you are interested in joining a community chat, check out Aiarthritis on the 15th of every month.

I had taken a huge step back from advocacy for almost a year. Mainly because for mental health reasons. I hit a wall after the death of my dad and dog. During that time, I decided to pursue another passion of mine. Story telling. I wrote a few books, two of which I’d love to share. See I love romance novels. Love authors like Kylie Scott, Kristen Ashley, LJ Shen, Tijan, RS Grey, Mariana Zapata and so many others. These amazing writers got me through the pandemic by allowing me to escape into their worlds.

As much as I loved their books, I longed for a story with people, like me, living with chronic illness. So I wrote two books.

I wrote the Chronic romance series. Book 1: Butterfly is a story about a woman diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Book 2: Dragonfly features a woman diagnosed with RA and how it impacts her relationships, and career.

Many people don’t think highly or romance as a genre but it’s been my guilty pleasure for many years and I am proud of the stories I have told. I hope you enjoy them, too. Both books are available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback formats. My author name is Georgia (after my beloved Georgia Grace) and James (after my dad). Click here to read more/purchase the books on Amazon: bit.ly/3DYrIGx

bit.ly/3DYrIGx

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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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