It is pretty common knowledge by now that I have written a book called Tales From The Dry Side: The Personal Stories Behind The Autoimmune Illness Sjögren's Syndrome. It is a compilation of thirteen personal stories told by people with Sjögren's syndrome. I am attempting to self publish the book through a company called Outskirts Press and I am doing a funding campaign through Kickstarter.com in order to get the book published.
Kickstarter works as a rewards system funding platform which means that financial contributors can elect to receive a reward from the author based on their donation level. Rewards start at $25 but the minimum donation is only $1.00. In order to donate you must sign up on Kickstarter and have an Amazon account because Amazon handles the money exchange at the end of the project which in this case is August 3rd at 5:30pm. If you do not have an Amazon account, it is very easy to sign up for one. I have been told by contributors that the entire process takes anywhere from 2-10 minutes depending on whether or not you have an Amazon account. Your credit card (via Amazon) does not get charged unless I raise the entire $7000 by August 3rd. if I do not raise the entire amount, you get charged nothing. You can read more about the book and the Kickstarter campaign on my Kickstarter page by clicking HERE.
To date, 43% of the funds needed have been raised. There are twenty more days to raise the money.
A lot of people have put a lot of hard work into these stories and into trying to get this book published. If you think you might be interested in donating but are not quite sure, the following is an excerpt from chapter 13 of the book entitled "Christine":
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” ~ Helen Keller
I clearly remember the day it all started. It was the week between Christmas and New Year’s 2008. I tried to get out of bed and all I felt was terrible pain in my ankles and wrists. It was like someone was chiseling through my joints. I had never experienced anything like this pain before and it didn’t make sense because the previous day, I had been fine. I got out of my bed and found it difficult to even move my legs. This was only the beginning of my journey. The journey that changed my life forever.
I tell my doctors that this is when my Sjӧgren’s symptoms started but looking back, I am not so sure that is accurate. I had been plagued for almost a year before this with left hip pain that was finally diagnosed as sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction and was permanently relieved by a steroid injection into the SI joint. My ophthalmologist had noticed two years prior that my eyes were starting to become dry and had suggested using eye drops. I blew off this suggestion. What was a little eye dryness anyways? I didn’t even notice it. Oh, what I used to take for granted.
I was thirty-six years old at the time the joint pain started, was married with no children. I owned a home, and worked as a pediatric nurse at a children’s hospital in Connecticut. Up until this point I had a complicated medical history as I was diagnosed and successfully treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma at twenty-four years old, had undergone a cardiac ablation for a heart arrhythmia at thirty-one, and was also diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden. I also had hypothyroidism. I truly believed that this sudden onset of joint pain was just another issue to be dealt with and resolved.
I sought out medical help right away for the joint pain as I was finding it difficult to walk and use my hands. My primary care doctor at the time worked me up for every possible thing she could think of including celiac disease, Lyme disease, other autoimmune diseases, the list went on and on. Tests and labs came back negative. My pain got worse and on top of it, I started to become more and more tired. Not your typical I didn’t sleep enough tired but rather that body numbing fatigue that makes every activity and movement difficult. I was sent to see other specialists including an endocrinologist and a rheumatologist but nothing could be found. This went on for months and months. Doctor after doctor visit, I would leave in tears and feeling frustrated.
I had a great amount of confidence in the doctor, a physiologist, who had diagnosed and treated my SI joint dysfunction and I sought his help. He decided to do a five day course of steroids (prednisone) and all of a sudden, I was a new person. At this point, as a nurse, I was convinced that I had an autoimmune disorder but I was assured over and over again by several rheumatologists, three of them in all, that I did not, despite my positive response to the steroids.
As time passed, my list of puzzling symptoms increased significantly. Respiratory difficulties landed me in the emergency room or admitted to the hospital. I experienced severe joint pain, numbness and tingling in my legs and hands, voice hoarseness, rashes, chills, severe fatigue, abdominal pain, and ulcers in my nose. Yet no one could tell me what was wrong with me because for the most part, my labs and tests were normal. I also had a relatively recent history of depression and anxiety, now thought to possibly be Sjӧgren’s related, and it was suggested that the root of my problems was psychiatric and not physical. It still saddens me to this day that no one thought it might be the other way around.