By: Alicia Jackman
I have always thought of myself as being a healthy person. I enjoy exercising a little each day and eating healthy foods. In 2007, after having my second child, I was having weird bowel issues and was surprised when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Doctors told me that it happens to some people and might not be a big deal throughout my life. I was prescribed four gigantic pills daily, which the doctor intended for me to take the rest of my life, and I came to terms that this was a disease I had. I took these pills daily and the disease didn’t seem to be bother me after that for years.
Six months after having my third child and being called as the ward organist, my fingers and hands started to swell and be hot. My fingers gradually got so swollen and stiff that it was too hard to keep playing the organ. Eventually I had to ask to be released from this calling, which really saddened me. I couldn’t open jars or button buttons. My knees and hips hurt so bad I couldn’t get on the floor to play with my kids, and I would cry in pain and frustration daily. I also started falling asleep for hours at a time. This scared me as I was home with three little children. When I was awake, I felt like an 80-year-old lady, when I was only in my early 30’s.
I finally saw my family doctor, then specialists, and it took months for them to figure out what was wrong. In 2010 I was diagnosed with a type of rheumatoid arthritis that the doctors determined must be related to my ulcerative colitis. Doctors told me that I had an autoimmune disease and that my body would continue to attack itself in my joints, then could move to other organs, which would eventually kill me. My doctors prescribed medication to suppress my immune system which they said was the only way to lessen these attacks.