Venus Williams and Sjögrens Syndrome: Is She a Bad Role Model for This Disease?

Venus Williams and Sjogrens Syndrome

Last week I had the pleasure of watching Venus Williams play incredibly fantastic tennis in the US Open. It was exciting to see this world-class athlete, at 37 years old, show her competitors what a true champion looks like, in spite of having Sjögrens. It is uncanny to utter Venus Williams and Sjögrens Syndrome in the same sentence. Do I wonder how she can still be a top-level athlete and have Sjögrens Syndrome? You bet I do.

I am writing this post because many people have asked me, “Don’t you think Venus Williams is a bad role model for Sjögrens Syndrome?” And my answer is a resounding “NO”!  I don’t know how she does it. She must work and focus exceptionally hard to keep her dream alive — harder than she’s ever worked before.

I do understand why people make this comment, though. Those of us who have this disease know how difficult it is to explain to our family and friends why we can’t push ourselves a little harder to join in…or even get out of bed. So many people don’t believe us when we say that Sjögrens Syndrome is a debilitating disease. And when Venus can kick ass, at 37 years old, with Sjögrens, it doesn’t really help make our case. I get it.

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Can Vagus Nerve Stimulation Reduce Sjögrens Inflammation?

Vagus Nerve Stimulation_ Sjogrenslife

The past couple of months I have been working on vagus nerve stimulation in order to increase my vagal tone. By that I mean that I have been practicing different ways to activate my parasympathetic nervous system side of my vagus nerve. I have been doing this in order to practice better mindfulness and calm my anxiety and inflammation. My anxiety isn’t at a high level daily, but I do get quite worried about the long-term costs associated with having Sjögrens Syndrome.  And I worry about my ability to continue working long enough to pay for future major expenses. I hate that feeling. And of course, I always have a high level of inflammation. I hate that too.

As I began to investigate the different methods to stimulate my vagus nerve and activate my PSNS (parasympathetic nervous system), I became more and more fascinated.  This post explains why.

Or you can just stop reading now and start singing, loud and proud, like your favorite rock star! Continue reading “Can Vagus Nerve Stimulation Reduce Sjögrens Inflammation?”

Best Sjögrens Syndrome Products — My Daily Survival Kit!

Best Sjögrens Syndrome Products

Determining the best Sjögrens Syndrome products to use for dry eye, dry mouth, (and other challenges) is such a personal process. We all have varying degrees of challenges and different products work better for some people than others. But asking each other “What are your favorite products” is still one of the most common conversations I have with other patients. You never know when someone has tried something new that works for them and could also work for you!

This post is about the best products that work for me.  I have focused mainly on some supplements and items for dryness. Addressing pain and fatigue will be a different post.

Take a look and see if some of these ideas might help you. And if you have tried products that you like even more, please do comment and let us all know about them!

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You Don’t Look Sick! How Do you Respond to this Comment?

You Don't Look Sick

We’ve all heard it… You don’t look sick!  When you live with an  autoimmune disease, this comment is common. How do you react and then respond?

There are times when I’m happy to hear this comment and times when I’m displeased. I do have a prepared response for this statement, but it doesn’t always fit my emotional or intellectual needs at the time. I hear the comment often enough (and I know you do as well) that I thought it a worthy topic to explore. My hope is that this article gives you ideas to help you craft your best response for any situation.

I believe there are a number of factors to consider when determining the best response to You Don’t Look Sick.  Consider your:

  1. Personality.
  2. Disease activity level.
  3. Emotional status.
  4. Time since diagnosis.
  5. Relationship to the person.

Each time someone tells you that you don’t look sick, you need to examine your answers to all of these questions and ask yourself the ultimate question:

Why do you care?

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Sjögrens Foundation May Board Meeting — Impressive!

Sjogrens Foundation May Board Meeting

Last Friday and Saturday I was in Virginia at the Sjögrens Foundation May board meeting. The Board of Directors comes together for our live meetings every May and December (with conference calls throughout the year). The Board is comprised of healthcare professionals in a variety of disciplines (Rheumies, Ocular, Oral, Researchers), a disability attorney, caregivers of patients, and patients. The amazing staff of the Foundation joins for much of our meeting to present achievements and challenges and to discuss goals.

The 2017 spring meeting was particularly rewarding and I’m honored to be a member of the Board representing patients! In fact, it was so impressive that I want to share what the foundation has accomplished for us (the patient).

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