Welcome to our first post in this month's series sharing stories from our Fight Like A Warrior main team members and ambassadors for Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month.
We asked some of our autoimmune Warriors Questions, so stay tuned because every week we will post a new blog featuring their Answers.
This first post is from our amazing Fight Like A Warrior Ambassador Program Manager, Courtney.
1. Can you please tell me about the autoimmune disease/s you have?
I have seronegative inflammatory arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. The inflammation in my body produced from these illnesses affects my central nervous system, my autonomic nervous system, and my bowels (as well as my bones and joints). The progression and consequences of these illnesses have put me on federal disability and caused me to have to leave the job I love.
2. At what age were you diagnosed and how long did it take for you to get your diagnosis?
I was about 22 when I received the diagnosis of seronegative inflammatory arthritis. I was also diagnosed with osteoarthritis, Degenerative Disc Disease and fibromyalgia during this time. I was recently diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis just last year at age 32. I thankfully haven't been playing long waiting games for diagnoses. They often just keep coming without me looking for them! I have incredibly painful symptoms that are often related to one diagnosis or another.
3. What is something you wish people knew about living with an autoimmune disease?
I wish people could recognize that even though we may look okay on the outside, that we are struggling deeply on the inside. If you saw me without my mobility aides you wouldn't know I was ill at all. Looks can be deceiving. There are no cures for these illnesses and they are progressive.
4. What is the hardest part about living with an autoimmune disease?
Not knowing how I will feel from day to day is incredibly frustrating. I hate not being able to make plans and not knowing what the future will hold.
5. What gives you hope?
The Fight Like A Warrior community gives me hope! My husband (who is a PhD scientist studying osteoarthritis) and his colleagues give me hope. They're brilliant researchers and I know that advancements are coming! My family and friends (especially my nephews) keep me going strong!
6. Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself!
I have a sweet pup and cat, I am a binge watching fiend, and a music lover!
For more, follow Courtney on Instagram: @chronically_courtney