By Maya Dusenbery in HUFFPOST.
Several years ago, after a bad bout of the flu, I woke up to find that my knuckles ached for no apparent reason. In a couple of weeks, so did my ankles and toes. Before long, my knees and elbows had joined in, and the pain kept me up at night. My consultation with Dr. Google suggested that this was not good news, and when I finally got in to see a rheumatologist, she agreed: I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which your immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of your own joints instead of an infectious pathogen.
It’s estimated that a whopping 50 million Americans have an autoimmune disease. Three-quarters of them are women and, like me, they often develop them in the prime of their lives. I discovered that I’d been incredibly lucky to get a diagnosis within several months. Thanks to that early treatment, my RA was quickly put in remission and I’ve been healthy for years. But according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, patients with autoimmune diseases see an average of four doctors over four years before they receive the correct diagnosis, and nearly half report being labeled “chronic complainers” during their search.
To read the rest of this story, click on the link below: