By Dawn DeBois
At 46 years old, I found myself officially disabled due to multiple autoimmune diseases and a soon-to-be diagnosed rare disease. My 40s certainly hadn’t turned out the way I had hoped. I was spending all my time on specialist visits, disability applications, diagnostic procedures and treatment protocols. None of this was what I had envisioned when starting my family in my early 20s.
A friend asked me if what I was going through was “the worst time in my life.” “It is!” I replied. I was depressed, dejected and felt like my life had no meaning. Worse yet, most of what I was dealing with fell under the umbrella of “invisible illnesses,” so when people looked at me, I didn’t look sick. Only people who knew me well knew I was struggling to function. I knew I wasn’t alone in this battle; more than 24 million people in the United States battle autoimmune diseases.
This is when the idea of writing about autoimmune and chronic diseases popped into my mind, and “the battle within” was born. I thought: If I am going to battle so many autoimmune diseases, the least I can do is share what I’ve learned with the millions of others fighting the same battle. Fortunately, my hometown newspaper agreed to publish my blog, and “The Mighty” also featured many of my posts. Once again, I felt like my life had meaning. I was amazed the day I received a call from a Lambert-Eaton News editor who said “Dawn, we like your writing and your story. Would you write about your rare disease for us?” “LEMme Tell Ya” was the site’s very first patient column.
For some people, music or art is their outlet. Others head out into the garage and fix cars or build amazing pieces of woodwork. Writing has always been my go-to in times of stress. I don’t have a single other creative bone in my body, but I can be walking my pug and an idea will circulate in my head that I need to write about. I put my fingers to keys with Jackson Browne blaring in the background during the early morning hours, when the dog-walk thoughts turn into stories.
I had to take a pause from writing in 2020 after suffering a severe concussion. Unfortunately, my God-given gift was put on hold, and it could not be forced. I had to step back and take all the time my brain needed to heal. But in recent months, my post-concussion symptoms finally relented, and I am able to journal daily.
Fate intervened this June when my path as an intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) patient crossed with Ronale Tucker Rhodes, editor-in-chief of IG Living magazine! The rest, as they say, is history. My new column titled “IG & Me” launches with the October-November issue. IG treatment has been life-changing for me. I can’t wait to share my experiences and stories with you.