One of the hardest things for me to come to terms with in dealing with two separate autoimmune diseases is the fact that I now have a compromised immune system due to the medications that I am taking. It is quite ironic in a way...the very medications that slow the progression of my diseases and keep my own body from attacking itself, my blood from clumping and killing me, my immune cells from making my salivary glands produce spit, my nasal cavities and my lungs from drying out, are the same medications that make my immune system not attack the very things it should attack.
Don't get me wrong...it is not like I have to go around wearing a mask or a full body suit or anything. I am not on my way to be the next bubble boy (or girl, since I lack the requisite penis to be a boy...). It just means that a simple cold can very quickly progress to a sinus infection, bronchitis, or even pneumonia. Secondary infections are very quickly becoming a given with me versus an occasional occurrence. Flu shots are no longer optional as the flu could very well kill me.
This is hard for me to accept sometimes. Just the other day, I had to leave work because I got violently ill. I puked twice there, then twice more at home. I am still not sure what was going on there...I wonder if it was something that might have given someone else just a rumbly in their tummy. I hate that I have to use sick time, to leave work, because of this. I hate that a simple cold forces me to have to take cough medicine and decongestants in the hope that I can stave off a bacterial infection. I hate that I feel so badly when I get sick.
I would estimate that about 95% of the time, I feel good. My meds work. But that other 5%...ugh. It is the ultimate betrayal when your own body turns against itself. Then when you fight back and cause other issues...it is hard. Especially when you are one who is used to just working through illness. Having to accept that I physically CAN'T anymore is hard.
It was a lesson I needed to learn though...how to care for myself. Most women tend to need this lesson. It is a shame that it took this to get me to learn it. It is more a shame that society will look at me and tell me that I need to just buck up and deal with it. If I could not feel this way, I wouldn't. I would trade all of my sick days for never having to deal with these issues. But the reality is there is not a cure. So I trudge along and hope that one day there will be.