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Pat Early

"Since I was diagnosed with Sjögren's, I have learned..." 





Since I was diagnosed with Sjögren's, I have learned just how resilient and strong I can be. When I was diagnosed with Sjögren’s, my first thought was “What do I do now?”.  It was 1995 and I had no idea what it meant other than It had something to do with my dry mouth and dry eyes.  The rheumatologist that diagnosed me gave me no information and did not discuss treatment, so I thought at first that it couldn’t be serious.  It was confusing, as I felt something more was going on with me.  I felt so tired all the time, but the doctor attributed it to being a single parent who worked full time.  

It was the first time I questioned the statements of a doctor, and decided I needed to learn more on my own. This was the start of my journey, and I know that my need to know more, that sense that I couldn’t necessarily count on the doctors to educate me, saved me needless suffering.  It also brought me to the Foundation.  As a retired teacher (I had to retire at 47, thanks to Sjögren’s), I strongly felt the need to know more and to share what I’d already learned, so I started volunteering with the Foundation.  Now 25 years later and 25 years wiser,  I feel it’s my obligation to give back, in thanks to those with Sjögren’s who, over the years, have given me their time and love and wisdom.  Now, with the pandemic, it seems more urgent than ever to share our knowledge, to offer comfort, and simply be there for each other. 

"You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me." - C.S. Lewis