If you had told me back in 2017 that I would live with an autoimmune condition for the rest of my life, I would have probably said: “noooo, not me”.
Early that year, I suffered from a persistent fever. However, I assumed that I caught a common cold and I simply powered through it, continuing my daily life. It is important to note that it was quite rare for me to have a fever or fall sick. Hence, it was quite surprising that the fever would not come down. Eventually, it got out of control and my body gave away. I needed to be hospitalised for the first time in my life.
During this time, I was experiencing several other symptoms, such as weakness, fatigue, rashes, as well as digestive issues. All these symptoms did not point towards a general condition that can be identified through a typical diagnosis. I spent more than one week in the hospital, undergoing various tests, as doctors even discussed the risk of my symptoms being an outcome of cancer.
However, I was finally diagnosed with a rare autoimmune condition – Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease. At that point, I heaved a sigh of relief- I’m still unsure if it was the fever or the fear of the unknown that made me find comfort in this scary diagnosis. Of course, I had no idea what the implications of an autoimmune condition are. I remember thinking that it will all probably go away soon.
I was then informed that individuals with Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease are at a higher risk of suffering from Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) – lupus. So, the doctors arranged for me to have frequent follow-ups.
Once I was discharged from the hospital, my recovery was very slow. I felt very weak and I distinctly remember that I had to take the lift since I was unable to climb even one flight of stairs to go to my office. However, I was focused on carrying on with my life as normal.
The next few months were like a snowball. During my routine exams, I learnt that I had two other autoimmune conditions SLE and Hashimoto’s. This was a turning point; I realised that I could not just power through anymore. I wanted to achieve my goals and grow, but my body was saying no, and I could not fight it. This realisation was the starting point of a new journey.
I became immersed in research, and turned to Dr Google: types of autoimmune diseases, what’s an autoimmune condition, diseases treatments, how to deal with autoimmune symptoms, etc. The more I read, the more confused and powerless I felt. I learned that there are not too many answers out there, although there are many many many opinions.
This led me back to the basics and I began analysing my situation. I have a background in consultancy and business analytics, and this approach was always successful. I started thinking, how did I not realise that I was so sick? Why did I push myself so hard? How come I was too busy to notice the signs that my body was sending me? There was a clear disconnection between my body and my mind. I also questioned my notion of health. Before my diagnosis, I believed that if I am active and not sick, then I am automatically healthy. However, I did not take into consideration the impact of lifestyle factors, diet and mindset on health.
I have to admit- it took me some time to realise that I am not like a car. I cannot merely replace one part to fix the issue, because everything is interconnected. I began to realise my mindset’s impact on my health and I started identifying potential triggers. I also became aware of the role that my diet can play in managing my autoimmune disease. I began to learn more and more about autoimmune conditions and understood what I can personally change. To a great extent, it was trial-and-error, and even now, it’s still a journey. Each day is different and one solution cannot help everyone. However, nowadays I am active, happy and I feel balanced and more tune in with my body.
During this journey, I discovered my hidden passion for health and nutrition. Hence, I decided to go back to studies and I am now in my final year of Nutritional Therapy. I can’t wait to work with others in their health journey.