possible autoimmune disease diagnosis on the way



For a while now I have been having aches and pains here and there, always in unusual places and not after being aware of having strained something, for instance. After leaving my physical part-time job, where I lifted, hauled, stretched, walked, and moved objects four or five days a week, I still was experiencing these aches.

I brought up the topic with my gynecologist of thirty years, who immediately had me go in for blood work, including a thyroid check and one to measure autoimmune antibodies (ANA). The ANA test came back positive, with a speckled pattern in my blood.

To have an autoimmune disease means one has antibodies that are confusing healthy cells with cells that are a threat to the system, attacking their nuclei. The body targets healthy tissues in joints and organs, causing fatigue, aches and pains, and illness.

How do you get something like this? The jury is still out, but it can stem from an infection or simply be hereditary. I read just yesterday that a lack of vitamin D can cause autoimmune diseases. My blood work also showed I have a lack of vitamin D.

I typically eat well: plenty of poultry, nuts, fruit, vegetables, fish, and grains. But I occasionally slip in the bad stuff: chips, candy, ice cream,  burgers and fries. Having gotten the positive ANA, though, I’ve already cut out everything on my bad list and incorporated more of the positive. I’ve also cut out something I’ve loved for years and subsisted on daily: sourdough toast. Gluten may be bad for the immune system; bread has gluten; therefore, bread is bad. I am trying to go as low on the gluten scale as I can.

My breakfasts now consist of oatmeal, cream of rice, and whole grain flapjacks. My blood work also showed elevated cholesterol levels, so I’m trying to stay away from eggs and typical triggers for that as well.

I see a rheumatologist next week and hope to get some more answers to narrow down what I have. In the meantime, I’ll try to do what I think are the right things to do, like exercises but not overdoing it and eating the least irritating foods I can. Sad to say, though, that even with the diet change and walking daily, as I’ve always done, I still have stiffness in my ankles, a hip pain, heel pain, and more. But I’ve a feeling I’ll feel better just knowing what it is I have.