I Have MS and...

Pick a card. Any card. Don't show me your card. Ok now pick another card.

I bet your cards say MS and some other autoimmune disease. I'm right, aren't I? It seems to be the luck of the draw that most of us with an autoimmune disease tend to have at least one more. For me, I also have ulcerative colitis, and I had a very serve case which resulted in 6 surgeries and the removal of my large intestine and for a period of time also had hypothyroidism. Most of my friends in both the MS community and the Inflammatory Bowel Disease community all have multiple conditions.

I have heard all sorts of theories on this topic, everything from just being susceptible to having multiples because you have one, to a doctor telling me I didn't have MS or IBD but that there must be some bigger umbrella disease that was causing both of my symptoms but it just hasn't been discovered yet. I just think about autoimmune disease like trading cards , "Collect 'em all!". According to the Department of Human Health and Services, 1 in 4 people have multiple chronic illnesses. The combination of at least three autoimmune diseases in the same patient has defined as multiple autoimmune syndrome (MAS). About 25 percent of patients with autoimmune diseases have a tendency to develop additional autoimmune diseases. (See link below for source info)

Adding fuel to this fire is the addition of just chronic illnesses like depression or addiction which we are all prone to having with just one autoimmune disease. Sometimes it seems as though the cards are stacked against us. Unfortunately, I don't really have anything positive to say about having multiple autoimmune diseases other that it made me more appreciative of what I have/had. When I was diagnosed with MS, I was just 21 and I felt like my life was over. I was so pitiful and wallowed. When I had new MS attacks I looked at it like it was the worst thing that would ever happen to me. Then I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and I really learned the meaning of pain and suffering. Looking back I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to look at MS as a way to look at life differently. Or a way to build character and learn more about life and myself. After getting diagnosed with severe UC, and the subsequent surgeries I learned to be thankful for MS and that it is mild. I no longer am mad that I have MS and UC but instead have grown to be thankful for them both. I know that sounds crazy but I really mean it.

For me, I feel that if I had just gotten MS and didn't get UC that I wouldn't have been as appreciative of what I've learned and who I've become. Getting that second autoimmune disease really made all the difference in teaching me how little control we all actually have. I'm much more calm, collected and go with the flow than I ever was before. I'm not saying that I don't have bad days where I just want to throw a pity party, but what I am saying is that my life is not one big pity party. The reality is that with one autoimmune disease, we're more open to having another, and perhaps even another. I just hope my next one is something awesome like growing wings and flying or something.

Do you have multiple auto immune diseases?

Has your doctor given you any more information about the how and why?

How do you think having multiple chronic illnesses has shaped your life and your attitude?

Can you say that you are happy you have autoimmune diseases?

For some more info on the topic here is great article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150011/

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