A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome. Sjogren's is an auto-immune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks moisture-producing glands. My worst symptoms (and the most common for this disease) are lack of saliva and dry eyes.
When I was first diagnosed, I was glad to finally have a name for the terrible dry mouth and dry eye problems that had plagued me for a long time. Both of these conditions seemed to be worsening daily, and I looked forward to trying the medications that can aid in producing moisture in my Sahara Desert-like body.
I eagerly read everything I could on Sjogren's. It's a strange disease. Somehow (as with any auto-immune disorder) my body has gotten the idea that it should attack itself. People with Sjogren's often have other conditions that indicate the immune system may be going awry. I had Meniere's Disease (an inner ear problem that results in hearing strange noises in my ears. It also can produce vertigo which is a sickening feeling like seasickness.) My Meniere's (I really hate to claim ownership of this strange condition) is a mild case and there is medication (Meclizine) that is helpful when I start to feel the symptoms coming on.
Another condition sometimes associated with Sjogren's is Raynaud's Disease, a condition in which fingers get icy cold and turn whitish yellow. It produces intense numbness. For me, it started out in three fingers. Now it occurs in all my fingers and toes. It's not the normal getting cold and warming up by rubbing hands together. In this disease, my fingers get frozen-feeling and numb and stay that way for very long periods of time. I use gloves even using the computer since my fingers can get cold when I don't keep them warm. When my fingers get white and numb I cannot type, put on earrings, or unclasp a necklace. My fingers become like stubs with no feeling. As you can imagine, I own a lot of gloves.
I also have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, a fancy name for a low-functioning thyroid. This problem is easily controlled with a thyroid drug.
None of these conditions cause me great problems. I just deal with them.
But, ah this Sjogren's...it is really tough to deal with. Please read part II of this article to understand the ways in which my life has changed due to having Sjogren's.