Pain Diary and Symptom Tracker

One of the most helpful tools for your doctor and yourself during your appointments is keeping a pain diary and symptom tracker or log. This way you can pinpoint exactly the time and date of when an autoimmune disease flare-up occurred, monitor, what you were doing each time and have a better understanding of what sets you off or what looks to be caused by more general things such as weather or the time of day.

Continue reading “Pain Diary and Symptom Tracker”

How do you feel beautiful when you have a chronic illness

I look in the mirror and first see the blotches on my skin. They’re red, raised, they look horrible. Putting on powder doesn’t help. Now they just look dusty, that’s the best word I can think of now. I look closer, my knees are bulging. Little blue veins and white lines surround my knees. It’s a sign of all the ravaging this condition has caused on my body. The weight gain around that area, or should I say ‘liquid retention’ as the doctor tries to make me feel better about it, causes the stretching of the skin, thus the white marks. How do you feel beautiful when you have a chronic illness? Continue reading “How do you feel beautiful when you have a chronic illness”

The Watcher and the Patient with an autoimmune disease

This blog is dedicated to the people with autoimmune conditions and the people that love them. It aims to educate both parties on how we can both work through these diseases together. For family & friends, how they can care for and support their loved one diagnosed; and for the autoimmune patient themselves, how they can better cope and involve their loved ones. So what roles can you play as ‘The Watcher and the Patient with an autoimmune disease’?

The Watcher

Today while I was at the hospital, I noticed a family in the waiting room of my Rheumatologist’s office. It was a rather touching scene. I couldn’t help but feel a part of it. A young girl, to what I imagine being around 10 or 11, was called into the office. Her father embraced her and I could tell she was crying. He told her in a soft voice that everything would be ok as they slowly entered the office.

She had been recently diagnosed with lupus and was going for her second appointment. I had found this out from her mother as we sat in the waiting room together. It felt like deja vu, only I was a little older than her when my journey with PAN began.

I was glad to see how supportive her parents were, but it reminded me of a few of my friends who had been diagnosed with autoimmune conditions how their family & friends dealt with their conditions. Which led me to write this blog today.

When you love someone so much, it is very hard to be what I call ‘the watcher’. You have to watch them go through something that you feel rather helpless to do anything. There’s little you can do to take away their pain. So how can you help?


Firstly, listen. I cannot emphasize enough on having a sit down with their friends and family. Let them explain their disease and how it affects them. This is an integral time for you, as a loved one, to listen up.

Looking back on my journey, having loved ones listen to me, really listen, before voicing out their own opinions and feelings towards the whole matter is really important. A big part of the emotional conflict is feeling alone and scared. By hearing out our concerns (a little bit of a vent) and just being there can really make us feel supported.


A pet peeve of a friend of mine is how her mother could never bring herself to admitting her daughter was going through an autoimmune disease. Officially diagnosed in 2003, she had already been battling 4 years before that before she finally getting a bit of relief with the right treatment. Until this day her mother still insists that she do more exercise, blaming such symptoms such as her inability to walk for long periods of time (actually caused by advanced arthritis) because her daughter didn’t walk enough previously. She constantly tells her to take more vitamins, see acupuncturists and swim more. While all of these things may help her condition, they don’t necessarily take it all away (since her mother wasn’t accepting that her problems weren’t due to lack of exercise but should be attributed to her autoimmune condition, rheumatoid arthritis).

My friend found herself explaining why she still had to take medicine even if she does do all those things. It has been a struggle and added extra stress on my friend, and while you, the reader might think gosh that lady’s mother is rather silly, my friend says she’s come to accept her mother as she is. She recognizes that her mother does love her, and trying to come up with ideas to ‘solve’ her daughter’s problems. We all act out love in different ways. It was her mother’s way of coping because she was scared of what her daughter really had, it is a serious disease. But if you could be a loved one who could accept what was going on, and seriously provided the support that patients such as my friend not only want but need, it could make things a whole lot easier.


Personally, I don’t mind the mother in that anecdote, I understand her too. But if you are reading this to learn how to support your loved one, it would really make a difference if you could help accept so that then you could move forward together in tackling the condition together.

It can feel so frustrating trying to explain to someone who is not open-minded. Sometimes some people even act as if they blame the person for being sick; no one deserves illness or asks to get sick. If you can learn to accept, then you can move on and face what is really going on, fight the ‘real enemy’ and not waste energy on chasing antidotes that won’t do much good. You can learn the varied treatments and be there for them as you discover ways to help them get better or cope better so they can live a fuller life albeit a little different but still one they will come to realize they can still enjoy.

Read Up

Something a lot of my autoimmune friends say they appreciate is when a loved one shows they care by reading a little bit about what they have. Instead of us having to explain what is going on, it shows us that you care when you actually know the name of the officially diagnosed disease. I met a guy who has had Wegners for 16 years and his brothers still forget the name of what he has. It seems like a little thing, but it means a lot when you care enough to educate yourself too on what is going on. I’ve heard of people experiencing really negative reactions from friends and family because they didn’t understand what an autoimmune condition was and why. Show you care by learning more. Also, don’t assume what you ‘think’ something is, ask questions it’s an even better step to understanding.

Discover the Invisible

As one of my previous blogs, aptly titled ‘The Invisible Visitor’, PAN like many other autoimmune conditions have been described as invisible diseases. There aren’t many ‘obvious’ signs when someone has one. I’m sure it must be confusing at times when your loved one might not appear sick. As you start learning more about the disease and its symptoms you’ll start getting ‘signs’ of when someone is having a flare-up, some days won’t be easy even when you think you understand it, but the person may react another way, don’t take it personally, be patient. It’s important that you both establish an ‘open’ relationship, one where you let each other know it’s okay to talk about it. Try to avoid misunderstandings, like making your friend or family member feel guilty for not being able to do some of the things they could do in the past.

Don’t compare

I understand you might try to be empathetic, but don’t compare your ‘similar’ situation, having an autoimmune condition will make it a very different experience e.g being tired, having pain etc. not saying we experience worse or less just that it’s different, the best way to respond to this is rather supportive, “that sucks, I’m here for you” or “Have a rest, I respect you” which helps as many autoimmunees feel guilty when symptoms can be overwhelming. As the watcher, being supportive and respectful is the best way to show that you genuinely care.


In the midst of educating yourself about what is going on with your loved one. Why not tag along for their next appointment. If it’s okay with them, sit in on what the doctor has to say, this way you’ll get to learn firsthand the medical terms of how the disease is progressing and you’ll be provided with the perfect platform to ask how you can take care of your friend or family member and how to support them.


In this day and age, we are super lucky to have technology at the level it is now. Did you know that there is a huge community out there of people with family and friends that have autoimmune conditions? Talking to other ‘carers’ can really help you learn and understand what to do in the event of an emergency, flare-up or just general living with someone like that. It’s great to know you’re not alone in this and that others are out there. You can share your worries and they can give advice too, like the patients themselves, don’t isolate yourself, it’s okay to reach out and ask questions.

For Example…

After a couple of years, my partner and I fell into a great rhythm of things when it came to my autoimmune condition. In my eyes, he knows exactly what to do when it comes to anything autoimmune related. He’ll bring me hot water bottles or cold compresses when I get body fevers (one of the symptoms that I get almost nightly); massages me when it hurts and even when he’s tired he knows how much it helps me sleep.

On his mind is all the doctors’ names and numbers in my little medical team treating my disease and if things got bad he could instantly contact them and ask them what to do. He held me when I cried in the hospital, let me know how loved I was. He always goes with me when he can to doctor appointments and he remembers all my medication table names for in case I miss a dosage or I have a flare-up and end up in the ER, like earlier this year when I lost the ability to speak and see.

These little things among other ways are examples of how a loved one can help. It’s the little things that count, be ready to help out if your loved one has to get checked in overnight at the hospital or help carry grocery bags if they can’t carry anything heavy because of arthritis. In the end, the most important thing is to let them know you’re there and that you love them. Be conscious that something is going on, but also subtle enough to give the person the chance to still feel normal. If in doubt or when there is really nothing you can do, squeeze their hand and let them know you are there for them.

The Autoimmune Patient

Hey, fellow autoimmune patient. Don’t worry this little term doesn’t define you, and neither does it have to define your life. I’m here to give you some tips on dealing with this whole fiasco. It doesn’t have to be as a bad as it seems, your job is to be as stress-free as possible and get better buddy 😉

So let’s eliminate one big stress factor that sometimes gets us all knotted up when push comes to shove. Having your loved ones close by is especially important when you’re going through these times. In the beginning, I found myself isolating myself, saying no one understands, and at times it is true, but that doesn’t mean pushing everyone away is the way, and definitely won’t make you feel better afterwards either. Giving others the chance to understanding what’s going on with you and helping you cope is a great way to feel better right now. Even if it may take months or years to get rid of your symptoms and problems, enjoy life now.

Start the Conversation

Like I said, in the beginning, I really didn’t know how to cope. I pushed my family way, got angry when I felt misunderstood and felt pretty much like everything was caving in. But I was really really lucky. I have the most supportive dad. He flew with me practically all over the country to get answers. When we both felt it wasn’t exactly treating the problem, I learned it was okay to get a 2nd opinion (well in my case there was a few more opinions than that lol but you know how it is). I think first things first, open up with your family. Invite those close to you to have a little get together.


You can break the news that you’ve been diagnosed and that while it is serious it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Nothing has changed only that maybe your loved ones need to be a little more conscious of things that might affect you negatively because of the disease. For example, you might gain weight on prednisone; or you’re going to be more fatigued than ever before so you might have said no to going out all the time; or you can’t drink more than a couple of glasses of wine than you usually did before etc. It’s important to get everyone on your team.

I once had a friend lash out at me because I hadn’t told her anything and one day when I had a really bad flare up I closed up and she didn’t understand. Don’t put yourself in the situation that you’ll alienate people from you, if a friend does something knowing it will hurt you or be detrimental to your healing, then that is not good either and that’s not a true friend. But if they really do care, they need to know.

It’s ok to ask for help

Another thing is don’t be afraid to ask for help. While I am a firm believer in trying to do the best you can in anything, don’t kid yourself if you know cannot physically carry a huge suitcase or go out partying with your friends all night. Be honest. I remember during college, I used to pop a couple of extra painkillers if I knew a big night was ahead, just so I could keep up with my friends. I didn’t drink but I still paid for it the next day. Just coz I felt strong enough the night before, the next day I was so tired and had pain all over my body, and I knew it was because I was ignoring my body signs and the little war raging within. The body needs all the strength it has to heal, don’t abuse it with too much exhaustion.

It’s a two-way street

When you start an open, free-flowing relationship from your condition, you’ll find you can explain things better because everyone now is open to the idea that you have changed a little bit. They won’t get offended if you turn down an offer to go out that night if you’re having a flare-up, and they won’t say comments that might hurt you without knowing it. They’ll also be more understanding when you say ‘today isn’t a good day, I may need a bit of time to sort myself out’.

Don’t play the blame game

When it comes to family and friends, sometimes they can be really annoying. Sorry to say that but hey you don’t have to have an autoimmune condition to know that we all feel that sometimes, they’ll feel that about you sometimes too, part of life haha. But as a patient myself, I get moody, tired, and some days just want to be left alone.

Other days, I don’t only feel those things, I act out on them getting angry at the tiniest thing because I’m already in a negative place. It’s important to remember that on these days, while it’s easy to let it out on your loved ones, please don’t, you’ll regret it later. As conditions go, autoimmune conditions can go up and down. Flare-ups can and will happen. Symptoms might get worse, or additional ones might turn up. Instead of blaming others or getting angry, let them know that you’re feeling a bit under weather that day. Help them understand instead of just seeming like some crabby person who isn’t appreciative of someone else trying to help them.


Positivity can be the most wonderful thing when it comes to handling your disease. Being positive is contagious. If you remain positive so will your loved ones.

Looking at the brighter side of things and keeping an upbeat attitude to your treatment not only helps ease the worry of those close to you, but it’ll help you cope too. Don’t believe me? Well seriously, do you think thinking negatively will help anyone? Does feeling sorry for yourself make your body heal? No, it makes the pain worse even at times, it makes you feel depressed, you’ll lose sight of what’s really important. The main aim here is to remind you that while yes you do have a disease but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep living life. You’ll find opportunities will still arise if you keep yourself open up for them.

Why not inspire others to live life to fullest? They can look up to you and say, that guy/gal is doing great I didn’t even know she was sick. There are days that will test you, and it’s okay to break down every once in a while.. But what are you doing on the other days? Are you showing others kindness? Are you teaching your own family and friends on what it’s like to be a survivor? Go out and get em’ make yourself proud, follow your own passions, learn new ones.

Nice talkin’ to ya Doc

Earlier in part 1, I suggested it might be a good idea to take along with your loved one to a doctor appointment. I’ll share this idea again to you guys from our point of view. I’ve found that sometimes, especially at appointments that are little heavier (e.g doc suggesting you have a biopsy or a change of medicine) it’s nice to feel a little support by having someone with you.

Someone to hold your hand and listen too. Ever been so nervous that you weren’t really listening or forgot what the doctor said? You’ll have your loved one as a witness and you can talk about it later on together. But lay down some ground rules too. It can be really bad if you bring someone with you and they talk too much that you don’t get anything out of the appointment yourself. Make sure the person you take with you understands that it’s important to listen first and ask questions at the end. Remember to always bring any tests you’ve done prior to seeing the doctor. Bring a list of any concerns and questions you might have so you can use the allotted time as best as possible.

Learn what works best for you

As you go along, you’ll learn numerous tips to help stop the pain or other uncomfortable symptoms you don’t like having. Whether it be listening to music, or getting a massage, there are tons of creative ideas out there to help cope. Hey, even this blog is part of my way of coping, it’s like a diary. Therapeutic. On really bad days, I put on classical music like Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and just lay down and breathe. I have a friend who loves foot spas and it’s grown on me too. While it doesn’t take everything away, in those few minutes you can let yourself be, be in that moment. Others use distraction techniques to lessen symptoms impact. Such as doing homework, cleaning the house etc. So ask yourself, what works for you?

Exercise Partners

A big part of autoimmune diseases might limit your ability for physical activity. But that doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t try to stay physically fit. It is great to keep you feeling positive and good. It also keeps your body healthy to keep on fighting these diseases. The type of exercising will change. Maybe you’ll only be able to exercise for so long say 30mins. Or maybe it would only be limited to low impact exercises. Exercises like swimming or yoga. It’s good to have a buddy with you to encourage and support you.

Get Connected

There is a wide community out there that is ready to welcome you with open arms. There are lots of people with autoimmune conditions. While most might not have exactly what you have, they can still relate and offer support like no other. They’re facing many similar obstacles and frustrations that you might be facing. You can find these groups on facebook, google groups, yahoo groups etc. I found them really helpful especially when I joined my first group a few years ago. Groups have a bunch of people of all races, ages, and gender. Some are more advanced than me others just newly diagnosed. In these groups, they share personal experiences, medical journals and just general information for autoimmune conditions. All really interesting topics along with providing a sense of community that someone else understood.


definition: interaction between two different organisms living in a close physical association, typically to the advantage of both;or in Autoimmunee terms – how you can live together that benefits both parties.

If you have an autoimmune condition or know someone who does I hope this blog post helps. Much love, Camille. If you have any personal concerns, comments, ideas or stories please feel free to email me. I love receiving mail, long or short.

I wish you all the best that you and your families can grow together through this time. May you be able to do it best with love, patience, and understanding 😉 Big Hugs, Camille.

Getting the best out of your next doctor’s appointment

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a condition and attending regular appointments, or going through a string of appointments to get some answers, I hope you find this blog article helpful.

Types of doctor’s appointments

During my previous experiences, I’ve come across all different types of doctors, and I don’t just mean different like a neurologist to a GP (I did that too). But I mean different doctor’s appointments with varying personality and style.I really admire some amazing doctors that I have come across, who are compassionate, dedicated and just make you feel safe. I’ve also come across some who I didn’t feel comfortable with.When it comes to your appointments, you need to feel comfortable with your doctor. You don’t want to develop “doctor appointment anxiety” and not god. Doctors are people too and have different attitudes on how they deal with patients. Some are wonderful, and make sure that you feel cared for which is important with autoimmune conditions.

The ‘not so wonderful’ doctors

I have experienced not so wonderful doctors (in my own personal opinion) when I really felt attacked and almost as if I was a burden to the doctor and his long day. This isn’t a good situation. While I don’t blame him for being the way he is (we’re all just people and take along with us our own set of beliefs, attitudes, daily thoughts etc), I definitely did not want to continue going to someone who obviously wasn’t in the mood for understanding and would probably add unnecessary stress.Some people get into the medical world and maybe their hearts were never originally in it, or maybe things have happened to them when they had bad experiences themselves with patients. But whatever the reason, when it comes to conditions like ours, you need someone who will not only give you the facts but support you in your overall life quality.

Respectful doctors

They can help you with exercise regimes, eating properly, monitoring your medicine and blood tests etc. I believe it’s a two way street, just like any relationship there needs to be respect from both parties. We need to respect our doctors as they have a lot of knowledge and can help us with things we don’t understand.Doctors also need to respect their patients, as patients come to them not just with these medical problems but with heavy hearts. They are worried and don’t really want to create more problems. While it can be frustrating, and not all the time will answers be straight forward or maybe even be doable at the time, both parties need to understand that is an ongoing process.Autoimmune conditions are complicated, even a little bit of explanation of how things are going can be helpful, letting the patient know what is really happening but in a gentle way. Patients, similarly, also need to keep doctors up to date.

Doctor Appointments Tips and Ideas

The following are some tips and ideas I’ve learned along the way through my journey to getting the best out of an appointment at the doctors:

Have a positive attitude but be honest too

I know everyone’s personalities are different. You might not have the same problem I had before. I used to be ashamed of what was happening to me and didn’t want to be too honest with what was going on with me. While I still don’t talk much about what is going on in person, I have learned that having a condition like ours is definitely NOT something to be ashamed of. It’s not your fault what is happening. But what you can do is remain positive.I don’t like to dwell on my problems, because I believe that if you focus so much on the bad things or the pain, then you’ll just feel it even more. Whether you want to share about your condition to someone personally is your prerogative. But when it comes to being honest with your doctor. You definitely MUST tell them what is going on. The doctor would ask me “so how are you?” and I’d reply “I’m great”, but it wasn’t true. You don’t need to pretend to be okay.A lot of the times with autoimmune conditions you might “look” healthy but there’s a lot of things going inside that just don’t show on the outside. You need to be honest with the symptoms you are experiencing, don’t expect a doctor to be able to help you if they aren’t able to see a clear picture of what is happening.  It can save you a lot of pain and suffering.

Keep your “support” team close to you

One big lesson I have gained from all of my experiences is that we need to keep our family and friends close. If you feel nervous or scared, you don’t need to go to an appointment alone. You can bring along someone close to you, even if they aren’t able to say much or do anything specific, just having them there can make you feel more comfortable. After your appointment, they might be able to help you with remembering what you need to do, or assist you with tasks that you find hard to do on your own e.g opening a can of beans.

Keep a diary

Some appointments might only be a few times a year, with months being in between each, I find it’s a great idea to keep a diary so that you can explain what happened, when it happened and have proof as well. I once got a bit of a wakeup call when I was in the ER, and I told the nurse I had fevers. She asked me, “how often? what temperature?” I didn’t keep a diary then, and wasn’t able to answer her.She told me that by just saying you have fevers isn’t so helpful because they might not even be fevers. While her manner of speaking was a little brusque, I really appreciated her honesty because after all the years of just going through the motions, I realised it would be better to actually record my symptoms, making it easier for the doctor and I to track my progress.Even years later I can look back at my diary and recall periods where I hardly had any complaints, to other periods where the pain was unbearable. I can then see what things I may have done differently those months, or whether it was just sort of random. You can also use this diary while you are at the appointment itself, jotting down little notes of advice or reminders. You’ll find it very useful and I even found that since my memory sometimes gets a little hazy (sometimes from medicine or from random neurological symptoms I get) I feel at peace know it’s been written down somewhere before I forget.

Have a list of questions ready

As I discussed before, some appointments might not happen for months, so it’s always good to come prepared and make the most out of your 15-30minute appointments. Have a list of questions ready that you would like to address with your doctor. It makes better use of both your time since you get to the point, and also when you leave you feel like you have gotten something out of the appointment.Earlier on there were many times I left appointments feeling a little bit wanting. While I know doctors can’t solve everything in one go, but even little questions like the following can make you feel you benefited from having the appointment: Is there any advice you can give me for improving my sleep? Or maybe, is it okay to use topical cream to help the pain in my knees? I always come prepared with my list of questions, and I’ve had very positive feedback from my doctors too for bringing one.If ever you feel like something needs clarifying or you don’t quite understand, don’t be afraid to ask even if isn’t on your list of questions. It’s good to ask questions so that you don’t have any fears to worry about later on too and gain a better understanding of what you think you need to know.

Bring along any scans or results

Some doctors will remind you this in a pre-appointment letter, while others don’t. But it’s always good to bring any results that may help in explaining your current condition to the doctor. They can decipher the results and then explain to you what they mean.

Make a Medical History Summary

After so many years, you’re going to have a lot of information about what you have experienced. I made a medical history summary a couple of years ago, and found it really helps to keep new doctors up to date, and remind old ones of what’s happened. The idea is to have a copy for yourself to update, and to give one to your doctor as needed. You can set out your summary any way you like. I actually keep two. One is about 4-5 pages, and that might sound like a lot, but I divided my major milestones by age, for example:
Age 13-15• migraines• insomniaetc.
GP, Neurologist, Otologist etc.
You can also set out important experiences by date instead of years. As my experience become more current my medical history changes. In the latter part of my history I write like this:
12/30/10 – 5/1/11
Check up with Ophthalmologist, in connection with vertigo and nausea. Medicine changed, prednisone now higher at 30mg per day
After going each age milestones, I then enumerate the symptoms I have experienced, and an explanation of them in my own words, so that the doctor can also let me know if they are really what I am experiencing or something else. This is when keeping a diary is also quite useful, you can take excerpts out of that to describe your symptoms, for example:
Arthritis– warm areas, migratory, non-asymmetrical, in major joints, stiff, swollen, painful to touch, limited mobility etc.
April 16, 2006:Can’t move right hand fingers, painful, put on warm compress, took Celebrex, pain eased after a few hours

Medication List

You can then go onto listing down the medicine you are taking, what time you take it, the dosage you take and how long you have been taking it. You might remember all these, but it’s good to have this written down so your doctor knows too and can look back onto your own written files to compare with his own notes.I mentioned earlier I keep two summaries. Now the second one, is a concise version, I limit it to one page only. This is most useful for emergencies, or first time appointments when you just want to give a brief overview of your medical experience. I did this by just giving the dates I was diagnosed with anything major, or admitted to hospital. Then go onto listing current medicine, and symptoms (without explanation). The longer version of my summary is useful for doctors later on when they want to know more. My doctor told me he was really glad I had given him what I was going through in my own words because it helped him understand how I saw it and where I was coming from.

Get a Referral

There have been many times when a doctor I saw wasn’t really the person I should be seeing. If you know, and feel the doctor knows too that you need to be seeing another specialist then get a referral. Don’t be afraid to ask one. The doctor will be happy too because they’ll be worried if they can’t provide the proper care to you or your condition is out of their knowledge scope.*~*~*~*~*I wish you all the best at your next appointment. Feel free to message me anytime with your comments, or other ideas on how to get the best out of your next appointment. Just remember to keep smiling, take care of yourself, and keep your loved ones close

Polyarteritis Nodosa Symptoms and Relief

I previously wrote my first blog entry called “The Invisible Visitor” and have gotten feedback that some of you would like to know more about the specific symptoms that PAN has. While it can manifest in many different ways in different people, there are some core distinctions that direct doctors to testing whether you have PAN or not.

Blood Test and Blood Levels

Throughout your testing, blood tests is the initial step your doctor will take to diagnosis. You may have a high CRP or ESR. Continue reading “Polyarteritis Nodosa Symptoms and Relief”

Polyarteritis Nodosa – The “Invisible” Visitor

The first diary entry

The bed felt cold, lonely and I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I was in it. It scared me. They told me they would run a few more tests and that there wasn’t anything to be worried about. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and felt the gentle squeeze of my dad’s hand. It felt familiar, reassuring.

We had been traveling the country over the past few months to get answers. What was happening to me? I was 12 years old and I couldn’t recognize myself anymore. Black-bluish scars and other red blotches of raised red skin bombarded my legs. There were days when I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed. My knees so stiff my mum had to put a warm compress beneath them to help stretch them out (later I would find out this is what arthritis is).

I would get ready for class and get so frustrated for doing just simple tasks like trying to brush my hair. These skin disturbances or “lumps” as I always referred to them as were spreading all over my body, and it wasn’t just that they looked bad, they were painful to touch and restricted the mobility of the joint they inhabited.

These amongst a myriad of other symptoms were my taste of what an autoimmune condition could do to you.

It would take me 8 more years, 4 misdiagnoses, 8 hospitals, 12 specialists to get “officially” re-diagnosed with Polyarteritis Nodosa.

Beginning the journey

From neurologists to rheumatologists and otologists (ok you get the gist, no pun intended, ok maybe it was) and numerous GPs & ER teams, innumerable breakdowns and 8 major flare-ups, is how I got to the Polyarteritis nodosa diagnosis.

Looking back, I believe I have learned so much and I feel that my lessons could help a lot of people. Polyarteritis Nodosa (PAN) is one of the many rare autoimmune conditions that exist today.

An autoimmune disease in my own words, is when the body believes there is an “enemy” inside, even though there isn’t. It’s when our body’s tissues attack itself, instead of this so called enemy that the immune system is detecting.

An autoimmune condition can manifest in many ways. There are more than 80 different autoimmune diseases discovered so far. One problem with these conditions is that some of them mimic each other. It is always best to get the closest diagnosis you can. While a lot of other Autoimmune diseases are treated are similar, being diagnosed can change the whole course of your condition, especially if you are getting treated for symptoms you aren’t even experiencing.

Research shows that PAN occurs more frequently in males, and in the age groups of 50-60. However, obviously cases like mine exist.

Juvenile conditions

Looking back and having all the knowledge I have about conditions like mine, I realise the process started in me when I was already 12 years old.  I feel strongly about educating people about this condition, while it is a serious illness, it can be treated and you can live a full life. Albeit a little bit different where you will need to make some changes, but never lose hope. There is a large network of people out there going through similar cases even if it isn’t exactly PAN.

In the next few blog entries, I would like to tackle other issues that those with PAN or autoimmune conditions face and help give some advice to get you through your dark days.

Having an autoimmune condition can be very frustrating, you may go through a lot of times when this “invisible” or faceless enemy inside you really tries your inner strength.

Trust me, I’ve been there. It can be a lonely, scary journey, but you need to keep your friends and close. While it will be hard for them to understand, know that they love you and will learn to cope, as you do as your condition progresses.

In the future of this blog, I also want to make information more readily available for you. Here you’ll find all the information related to PAN and some other similar autoimmune conditions.

One stop info hub

I personally found that it has been hard to get all the information in one place, and have been researching for answers on my own for years. I think it is good to educate yourself to understand what is going on in your body and why. But it is also best to talk to your doctor. Be open and honest with them. If you feel you aren’t getting the support you need, it is okay to get a second, or a third opinion, heck I got twelve of them. I’ve seen all kinds of doctors, and with each experience, you can take a little bit of wisdom with you.

At the end of each blog entry, there will be links to these informational sites, the blogs themselves, however, will be firsthand encounters and information from a patients point of view. I believe we need to equip ourselves with not only medical information but “emotional” information. Conditions like these don’t just affect our bodies, they can affect our emotional well being.

What is Polyarteritis Nodosa?

Here’s a short video that helps explain PAN briefly:

An in-depth explanation of Polyarteritis Nodosa

For a detailed description of PAN take a look at

Polyarteritis nodosa is an autoimmune disease is a condition in which your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks your own body.

With Polyarteritis nodosa, small and medium-sized arteries (blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body) become inflamed and damaged. The inflammation of the arteries affects many different organs, including the skin, CNS, peripheral nerves, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, heart, joints, ear, nose, throat and lungs. With cutaneous (or skin) PAN, leukocytoclastic vasculitis can be seen.

Polyarteritis Nodosa Support

If you want any advice, would like me to write about a specific topic or would like to share your story here please feel free to contact me via email or on social media.