Janet Church and My Sjögrens Story
I am a seasoned technology marketing executive and started my career as the 301st employee of Microsoft. I then went on to create Janet Church & Associates, Inc., a multimillion dollar technology marketing firm. For 18 years, I was CEO and President of this company until I became too tired and ill to run it effectively. At the time, I just thought I was exhausted from being in the high-paced world of technology for 21 years.
After departing my company in 2001, I became increasingly ill and could not get a diagnosis. In 2005 my body began to shut-down and I was hospitalized for 3 weeks as doctors from almost every discipline ran tests. They titled this an acute “cataclysmic event”. I eventually was stabilized and then released with no clear diagnosis. I was not accurately diagnosed until 7 months later when a visiting Mayo Clinic diagnostician pinpointed that the only physician I had NOT seen was a rheumatologist. After additional lab work with the focus of Rheumatologic diseases, I was diagnosed with Sjögrens Syndrome.
After a Diagnosis of Sjögrens
Having Sjögrens disease drastically effects how I feel every day — the joint pain, the severe dry eyes and mouth, organ involvement (such as reduced kidney function), and exhaustion. I take several serious drugs (pharmaceuticals) to suppress my immune system. Without drug therapy, I can not function. I am not an unusual Sjögrens patient.
My natural personality is to face challenges head-on, gathering information and performing to the best of my ability. However, the “best of my abilities” has been greatly compromised. The experience of grieving my “old self” and defining my “new self” has been a challenge. But after living the ups and downs of Sjogrens for over a decade, I believe I have a system that helps me live the best life possible. In fact, I live a fantastic life in Sonoma, CA. My life is filled with loving friends, interesting work, and all the riches nature can provide.
I am currently the Chair-elect of the Board of Directors for the National Sjögrens Foundation. Being part of this organization is an amazing learning experience and I wanted to share this knowledge, and tips I discover, with other patients. I also wanted to give family members and friends another perspective to better-understand their loved one’s disease. I hope this blog helps you find at least one new fact or idea about living with Sjögrens.