In July 2013 I had to put my business on hold as I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Stills Disease (read about it HERE). It is in the family of rheumatoid & auto-immune disorders, with symptoms including joint & muscle pain, sore throat, splotchy rash, and fever spikes. There is very little documentation or research about it in the medical community, and there is no specific treatment plan or medication designated. My rheumatologist says it is treated for the most part as one would treat Rheumatoid Arthritis. Initially the doctors didn't know what I had - I was tested for almost all infectious diseases, from Lyme to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to even Syphilis (everything came back negative). My diagnosis of Stills Disease was made after everything else was ruled out. There is no test specifically for Stills Disease; it is a "diagnosis of exclusion". Similar to diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, Stills disease is not contracted from an outside source, nor is it hereditary or contagious. My doctors believe that exposure to an infectious disease such as Mononucleosis, Parvovirus, or even Strep Throat within the previous 6-12 months brought the disease out, even though I did not contract anything.
|Trying to stay positive during my 10 day hospital stay as doctors worked to find out what I had|
Due to extreme pain in ALL my joints, which went away after 2 weeks and was replaced with full body muscle pain & weakness, I was unable to walk, sit up in bed, stand, sit down, use the bathroom, bathe, or make or eat meals without assistance for about 6 weeks. Around 2-3 times per day for about 8 days I experienced uncontrollable seizure-like shivering (called Rigors) preceding fever spikes as high as 104.4 degrees F. These went down in about 2 hours with Ibuprofen. I experienced some light-headedness in the mornings, due to either low blood sugar or low blood pressure, and passed out once. Luckily I was returning from the bathroom and was being supported by both of my amazing parents, so I was not injured in any way. Throughout my illness I was hospitalized 3 times, the initial admission lasting 10 days, the other two for only 2-3 days due to consequent symptoms returning.
|Here I am on oxygen in the hospital to prevent the shakes preceding the fever spikes.|
|The splotchy, salmon colored rash consistent with Stills Disease. It covered my entire body except neck & face.|
|The rash on my upper leg. Luckily this rash didn't itch or burn.|