Friday, January 6, 2012

When Diseases Get Trendy

Is it okay to be happy someone got sick?

Let me clarify: I'm not talking about when you are driving along trying to merge onto the freeway only to get cut off by some asshat in a convertible with his comb-over flopping, and you, right then and there, wish for him and his entire family to spontaneously combust, along with his manhood on wheels that is in your way.  Nor am I referring to when I passive-aggressively write ES&D (Eat shit and die, not to be confused with eat, shit and die) under stamps on an envelope containing a check sent to people that don't deserve it-like the IRS, or parking enforcement.  And finally, I am certainly not talking about stupid ho-bags that tart up with gobs of makeup, only to shimmy their stilettos in front of me to get a drink 3 nanoseconds faster, and I look them dead in the eye and say, "I hope you contract several venereal diseases all at once that simultaneously eat your ladybits up while oozing horrific funk down your chunky thighs". Those things are me, helping Karma out.  Karma is like Santa-they can't be everywhere. So my wishes alert Karma to the misdeed.  I'm helpful like that. You're welcome, Karma.

I'm talking about Venus Williams.
She recently was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome (Sho-grins).  Sjogren's is an autoimmune disorder that has no cure. It affects your joints and causes dryness, from mouths to other glands.  Many of the treatments that can help with the symptoms cause other problems (sound familiar, Spoonies?) and it often comes with a side dish of Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus. If you win the grand prize, you get a whole buffet of disorders, something that seems to be quite common with autoimmune disorders.

Venus came out about her diagnosis after withdrawing from the US Open this past August. In addition, she has completely revamped her diet. she has ditched the meat and processed food for a mostly raw vegan diet. (I know I have talked about this before but I will repeat-oftentimes, foods can be triggers for pain, especially in joints. Eliminating certain foods can make some of these incurable diseases tolerable).

And I'm absolutely over the moon. Why? Well, I have no problem with Venus. Nor am I some crazed tennis hater.

I'm thrilled, because FINALLY someone in the public eye has one of these nasty diseases.  Hollywood has all kinds of cancers, Parkinson's, addiction, heart disease-you name it, someone in Hollywood has gotten it and established a fund to help cure it. The vast sea of autoimmune disorders has been suspiciously lacking.  I mean, sometimes they get sick, but if it's linked to an autoimmune disorder, there is little information about it. Certainly no telethons, or drives (Okay, MS has a telethon. But the rest of them, nada.)  
In this day an age (and probably ALL days and ages) money talks.  And money goes to the group that has the most exposure. Hollywood is a key player here, because it is full of people that are copied, emulated, and adored. Which can carry a  lot of weight.  What we need ("we" of the autoimmune community) is a person of clout, one with a voice and a platform to get saddled with one of these crazy-ass diseases.  One of these diseases, that some doctors don't even believe exist.Having Venus join our ranks means a lot of things to people like me. This means people will read about Venus and wonder if what they are going through could be Sjogren's. This means there will soon be more people getting diagnosed, more people getting treated, more people believing. And, most importantly, more money to fund research to find cures and additional treatments.

So welcome, Venus, to the Spoonie Club. We are sad you have joined us-we hate getting new members. But happy that your voice has been added to ours. It's a loud one-don't ever quit using it. We need it, now more than ever.

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