Columns

Hunkering Down During the Dark Days of Winter

A few weeks ago, Kansas City, Missouri, got several inches of heavy snow. It happened on a Friday night, so we locals braced ourselves for a long weekend of staying in and getting cozy. (I’m in the middle of my hibernation month, so I wasn’t planning to go out…

My Annual Hibernation Tradition

Young people like to ask each other, “If you were an animal, what animal would you be?” My answer is a grizzly bear. They’re powerful and majestic. They sit at the top of the food chain in their habitat. And most intriguingly, they eat for half…

When Change Gets Tough to Handle

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus had it right when he said, “The only constant in life is change.” This is true for everyone, but especially for patients with autoimmune diseases. Change within ourselves can be mental, physical, or psychological. Externally, it may involve relationships or our living environment. Some types…

My Exhausting Experience at the Emergency Room

I wrote this week’s column from the hospital. I debated whether I should — after all, improving my health is priority number one — but what better way to illustrate the vasculitis lifestyle than reporting straight from ground zero? For almost a week, I had a forceful cough that brought…

The Ups and Downs of December

I can handle November all right. The air is chilly and the sky is gray, but I stay busy and content going through the motions at a manageable pace. December is different. It sweeps in right after Thanksgiving in a manic holiday frenzy, ready or not. Between busy schedules and…

What to Look for in a Vasculitis Specialist

The doctor-patient relationship is unique. A doctor sees you intimately and is privy to your vulnerabilities, both physical and psychological. I’m thankful to have had many vasculitis specialists in the past decade, some of whom have also evolved into trustworthy friends. For those with vasculitis, your doctor may become one…

The Emotional Toll of Illness

Anxiety. Fear. Depression. Grief. Rage. Have you experienced any of these after receiving a diagnosis? Whether patient or caregiver, the emotions surrounding illness can take up an unexpectedly large chunk of one’s energy. Vasculitis primarily affects the physical body. Inflammation is a visceral symptom, causing pain and discomfort while threatening…

When Traveling With Chronic Illness, Planning Is Key

As the holiday season approaches, people will begin making travel plans, and their to-do lists can be extensive. Book a flight. Communicate with family. Check the weather forecast. Do laundry.  Being sick and having a weakened immune system, however, can add even more items…