Sjögren’s real lives

Sjögren’s real lives

Renée Coachman*

I was working full-time as a GP, studying, and a busy mum with two children.

I noticed over about 6-12 months that I was becoming overwhelmed by joint pain and fatigue. I had dry eyes — particularly when I was driving.

My family were bewildered initially. Pain, fatigue and dryness are very hard to quantify and express. I can’t walk more than 100 meters without experiencing joint pain. And dry eyes mean I only drive locally, making me dependent on other people. The disease had a huge impact on us.

I was on an emotional rollercoaster of sadness at the loss of health, and frustrated at not being able to do what I wanted to. Depression set in due to the overwhelming symptoms.

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Judith Falconer*

After reaching my 40s, I noticed my eyes were becoming increasingly dry, something I put down to long hours at the computer. Then around 50 I developed a very dry mouth as well. At the time I was working hard to establish a new company based on technology transfer.

In August 2005 I started developing symptoms of what was later diagnosed as lupus, including the classic eye-mask rash, and shoulder pain.

It took nearly 18 months to get a diagnosis of lupus with central nervous system involvement, and of Sjögren’s syndrome. My family doesn't have a strong history of autoimmune disease, although my sister had severe excema and asthma. I now know autoimmune diseases are often concomitant.

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