My dear friends,

After this latest bout with pneumonia (the second one in eight months), I feel like I need to be a bit more transparent about what is going on with me, physically and emotionally.

About 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease, where your immune system doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do (ie protect your body), instead it attacks your body. In the beginning, I responded very well to treatment with the drug methotrexate, and spent the next five years, knowing I had the disease, but experiencing very little of its difficulties. Eventually the methotrexate stopped working and I spent the next 2.5 years testing medication after medication trying to find one that would stop the pain that radiated throughout my entire body. Ultimately, one was discovered, and the pain stopped, but the effects of the disease and medication have not.

The catch-22 is that the medication that hinders my immune system from attacking my body, also lowers my ability to fight infection. So, whereas you might get a cold and it lasts a week and you’re healed. I get a cold, it turns into pneumonia, I spend five days in the hospital and it takes months to recover.

This is the first time, in the decade since I’ve been diagnosed, that I’ve felt completely overwhelmed and hopeless. I’ve spent a lot of time grieving these past weeks…because I’m finally realizing this disease is changing my life. It’s keeping me from doing things I love and creating a hazy future, full of the unknown.

I don’t share this with you for sympathy, but in hopes that you might understand a little more clearly why a cold takes me away for weeks at a time and why it’s quite possible I’ll have to say no to things that I simply don’t have the energy to do anymore. And know this, as difficult as this time continues to be, I’m not giving up. I’m not. I’m going to fight back with the strength that slowly builds each day. I’m going to continue to rise and pray that God meets me. I’m going to be patient as God heals my body and my soul. And I’m going to promise to continue to be there for each one of you, just as your love and hope and prayers have been there for me.

I deeply thank you for those love and prayers; and invite you to ask me any questions or bring me any concerns you might have. Thank you for letting me share a little bit of my story…

With love,