But you don't LOOK sick ...

“Squeezing droplets of life between the crevasses of pain, illness & disabilities. But I don’t look sick ..."

PsA & AS: The Challenges of Sero-Negative Auto Immune Diseases

With a constellation of symptoms that rivals several chronic illnesses rolled into one, and blood work that frequently refuses to fit neatly into "the box," the auto immune conditions umbrellaed under "The Spondyloarthropathies," can be tricky to diagnose and equally as challenging to live with. There are many troublesome and less than lovely symptoms which accompany both conditions, but the pain associated with these auto immune diseases may be the most difficult to deal with on an everyday basis. And, just like the majority of equally mysterious auto immune diseases, it is not uncommon to find one's body under attack by one or more additional illnesses at the same time PsA and AS is invading the body. I have certainly found this to be true for myself, and it most definitely makes functioning and living with these conditions an enormous struggle. While I have had both illnesses reeking havoc in my body for at least 5 years, I was not officially diagnosed until the Spring of 2011. I am a pretty experienced patient with several other chronic conditions, but I have a lot to learn in relation to these diseases. My hope for this blog is to share my personal challenges and experiences with others who deal with Psoriatic Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis, and hopefully gain new knowledge and support along the way.
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I have dealt with a number of chronic health conditions - including 20 years of chronic pain issues - and through my journey I have sought and experienced a number of treatments. I have been fortunate to find a few treatments that help, and of course, several others that don't.

As a general rule we have two areas of medicine to choose from when it comes to everything from diagnostics to treatment options for any given condition. Western medicine offers many wonderful and accurate ways of diagnosing conditions, along with providing some very helpful treatments, specifically surgeries and certain powerful drugs to keep us alive. But, there's also something missing from the western medicine model of healthcare. In my opinion, crucial concepts for healing the body, as well as most preventative care, are not part of the western medicine equation.

By the time I was given a diagnosis, my spine condition had become so severe that the only way I was going to survive - and hope to avoid paralysis - was through a series of complex surgeries and medical procedures. Had my condition been caught earlier on in the disease progression, some alternative healing modalities would have gone a long way towards improving my condition, ultimately lessening the required surgical intervention and even limiting, if not eliminating the permanent nerve deficit which is now a part of my life.

One cannot go back in time, but, I can share my gained experience and knowledge with anyone willing to listen. Two healing practices which have greatly improved my health, my overall functioning, and my life, are called Soma Body Massage and Reiki Energy Healing. I have witnessed many amazing positive effects from both forms of treatment within my own body and life, as well as witnessing similar results in others' lives. I would not promote either of these practices if I did not have 110% confidence in their power to assist in healing the body.

My mom found the practice known as Soma Body Work/Integration about 6 months prior to my surgeries. I began sessions in the Fall of 1996. Typically, 2-3 sessions a month. While my pain never truly eased all that much - specifically due to the extreme slip in my low back - the results of the Soma sessions were pretty unbelievable. I went into surgery in the Spring of 1997, and before going under I was x-rayed to verify the exact placement of the vertebras. With the 6 months that had passed, the surgeons anticipated an increase in the slip degree, but to their shock & amazement, my spine had actually began moving upwards in the direction and position is was supposed to be. Before beginning these treatments my mother had conferred with the doctor to ensure the safety of the practice. He said that there was no harm in it, but that it was likely a waste of money, as if it relieved the pain at all, it would only be for a very brief time. 

Well, Soma is not your typical massage work and boy was he blown away by the results. As the story goes, he walked into the waiting room and shared the surprising news that there had been movement in the spine, and not in the undesired direction. He was boggled and couldn't figure out why or how this could happen; he's never witnessed it before! My mom just smiled and simply said, "Soma." 

In the provided additional links, please take a moment to view two sites which fully explain each respective therapy/treatment/practice. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or would like information for a referral to a Soma and/or Reiki Practitioner, please message me at Healthandillness@gmail.com

You can also find me at my Spondylolisthesis blog: 

Resource Websites for Soma & Reiki: 


Soma Institute - Soma Neuromuscular Integration

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About Me

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My interest for all things related to health & illness arises from my own struggles with chronic health conditions. I have found it most therapeutic & empowering to write about my many experiences within this realm. Through education, my own research, and my ongoing personal challenges, I am teaching myself how to become my own best advocate. To learn more about me, please see the page entitled "About Cat" located at the top of the page. If you have any questions or comments, you are welcome to contact me through the "about" section listed above, or email me at healthandillness@gmail.com. Please note that this address is also linked through my profiles. Blessings of health, energy and peace.

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