**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. These are my experiences and this should not replace any advice you have received from your own doctor. You doctor is the expert, not me.
Good day, friends! The weekend is almost here!! I am excited, only because I have prizes coming in the mail. A big order from Sephora and a pretty large Lancôme order from Macy’s. I have gone and gotten myself completely hooked on Lancôme skin care products. My face is happy. My wallet … not so much haha There are also plenty of goodies for me to talk about in the blog, which I am excited about!
Today’s post is not makeup related. That may immediately cause some of you to not read, and that’s okay. The focus of the blog is looking good while living with a chronic condition, and I haven’t talked much about the chronic condition part. Alright then … let’s just jump on in!
Having an autoimmune disease means your immune system goes haywire and begins attacking your body. It sees various parts of your body as a foreign invader, so it does what it’s programmed to do. That often means that the white cell count is pretty high. Normal WBC is anywhere from 4,500-11,000. Mine is consistently around 16,000 and has been as high as 27,000. That one got me a trip to an oncologist to be tested for leukemia, which can be a nasty side effect of these diseases. Now, you’d think that having such a high white count would make you almost immune to getting sick. You body is literally flooded with germ killing machines, at all times. They are on a mission and have called in reinforcements.
Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. In fact, my family doctor told me it’s actually the opposite. It makes you very prone to getting sick. Yes, the body is flooded with germ killers, but they are laser focused on attacking you, not the cold virus you caught at the grocery store a few days ago. Because the immune system is so focused, it leaves you open and vulnerable for whatever is out there.
A year and a half ago, in the span of four months I caught the flu, had roseola, developed a staph infection on my skin and then pneumonia. I haven’t really been sick since then, until this week. As I mentioned in the previous post, I went to my family doctor yesterday and I have an ear/throat infection and thrush. Haha when I get sick, man do I get sick!
When you start to feel sick, it’s important to get to your doctor as soon as you can. Something as simple as a cold can escalate quickly, especially if you are on immune suppressing drugs. Lucky for me, my doctor had an opening for the next morning. He put me on antibiotics and anti-fungals immediately, to stop anything from getting out of hand.
Because the immune system kind of ignores bacteria and viruses when you have an AI disease, it’s very important to get yearly vaccinations against the flu. The flu is a particularly scary infection when you have an AI disease. You may or may not know, but the flu kills about 36,000 people every year in the US. Worldwide, it is fatal for between 250,000-500,00 people. When you immune system is compromised, complications can arise incredibly quickly … in a matter of hours, oftentimes. The flu is a virus, so there really aren’t many options for treatment, once you get it. There are a few retroviral medications, but they have to be taken within a small window of time. If you can’t get to your doctor in time, you may miss the window. If that happens, don’t hesitate to go to an urgent care facility.
The biggest flu complication is pneumonia. If you’ve never had it, thank your lucky stars. I had a mild case, what would be considered “walking pneumonia”. I have never felt worse in my entire 42 years on this planet! Every breath burned and it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. Definitely not something I want to go through, ever again.
One thing that can help is taking care of yourself. It’s hard for your body to work properly when you’re healthy if you don’t take proper care. Imagine how difficult it is when you aren’t healthy! First and foremost, eat right! You have to provide your body with the right fuel if you want it to work at the highest level it is capable of.
Second, get proper sleep. This is a difficult one. AI sufferers often deal with extreme fatigue, even getting the recommended eight hours every night. The amount of sleep you need might be vastly different than what sleep experts recommend. For me, most nights, I sleep seven to eight hours at night, but after being up for about 45 minutes in the morning, I need a nap. My morning nap is anywhere from one to two hours … seriously. A lot of days, I need an afternoon nap, too. Fatigue is a huge problem. Healthy people tend to get sick when they get run down, and it’s no different for people with AI diseases. We just need much more sleep than the average person.
Third, take supplements. There isn’t a consensus in the medical community as to whether supplements work, or are even worth it. My experience is that they are. Not to mention that people with autoimmune diseases tend to have vitamin deficiencies. My levels of D, iron and B12 are low. My B12 is still considered normal, but on the low end. We also tend to be anemic. It has to do with having chronically high inflammation levels. Being anemic can increase fatigue and generally feeling blah. Having routine bloodwork to assess your levels and your specific needs is something I recommend.
Finally, be a bit of a germophobe. Keep hand sanitizer with you at all times and USE it. Wash your hands as often as is practical. If you can help it, avoid sick people. I know that’s much easier said than done, especially if you have kids or work outside of the home. If you find yourself stuck in a doctor’s waiting room at the height of flu season, wear a mask! I’m not kidding. A few funny looks are better than finding yourself in the hospital.
None of these tips are foolproof. You will find yourself sick at some point. Don’t panic, but get seen by a medical professional as soon as you can. The sooner you an be treated, the less of a chance you’ll be dealing with complications. Phew … this was a long one, but I hope there was information in this post you found useful.
Do you have a chronic condition? Do you find that you get sick easier and more often than most? What have your experiences been? Lemme know!
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