I have always been amazed, and more than a little saddened, when I witness examples where people (Doctors, family, friends, fellow sufferers) have decided to rate Autoimmune illness and how serious they are compared to other autoimmune diseases or chronic illnesses.
I cant quite understand why someone would feel that one form of pain and suffering might be more important, more debilitating or more isolating than the other. For me suffering is suffering and pain is pain.
Whether you suffer from Sjorgens Syndrome, Rheumatoid Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Addison’s or Crohn’s Diseases they are all very painful conditions and can lead to a very difficult and challenging life. It is my opinion that there is no disease more ‘glamorous’ than the other and the fact that they are currently incurable makes it even more difficult for me to believe that any should be labelled as any more serious than the other. Anyone who has any of these diseases (or any of the 80+ Autoimmune diseases) deserves respect and support for the various different ways their lives have been changed.
To me it would be like comparing forms of cancer and other life threatening illnesses. The fact that so little is known and understood about autoimmune diseases does not make it any easier on sufferers and that is why I (and countless others) do their best to advocate and educate the world about what the realities are like.
truthfully, before I was diagnosed with several AI diseases I admit that I knew very little about them myself. Years ago, before becoming ill, I lived in blissful ignorance myself and had only occasionally heard people refer to M.S. or the occasional Type 1 Diabetes, never did I dream that I could enter this mysterious world myself. But I am here now and my eyes have been forever opened to the many millions of sufferers across the world who battle daily with disease activity, social issues and challenges, medications and lack of support. Daily I am reminded how many of us have had unpredictable outcomes and steady progression of our diseases which reminds me that there is no disease which is more desirable or easier than the other.
I extend this thinking to all our brothers and sisters who have chronic conditions and have lost friends, family, jobs, partners, mobility, identity and much, much more. Pain is pain. Suffering is suffering. Loss is loss. Perhaps there are higher numbers of people who struggle with one disease but it is still a hard road to travel no matter what route you take.
I am not certain that breaking us up has been helpful to the people who is trying to cope as best they can, although I am very aware that there are those who are able to manage their relapses and symptoms much better than others, and that there are higher functioning ones amongst us. But I still believe that there is no ‘easier’ disease to endure and a flare / relapse can be agonizingly painful no matter where in the body it attacks. So many of these diseases share so many ‘overlapping’ symptoms and serious medications that often we have more in common than we have differences. Many of the drug protocols are so similar (chemotherapy, biologics, steroids, anti-inflammatories, strong pain killers etc) and we can certainly empathize with each other how difficult these treatments can be.
I firmly believe we are all part of a larger, brave, courageous and amazing group of people who try our hardest each day to meet the challenges and struggles of whatever our disease(s) throw at us and try to make a life out of what we have. To all of my brothers and sisters out there I hope you will feel drawn to support each other in our Autoimmune / Chronic illness struggles and may we join together in advocating and teaching the rest of the world how important it is to learn all they can and support their friends and loved ones in this never ending battle.