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How to Cope With an Autoimmune Disease

Updated on July 9, 2008

My attitude toward life actually hasn't changed much since being diagnosed as a type-1 diabetic about a year ago and learning about the same time the name of vitiligo, the autoimmune disease causing the loss of pigment (patches of white) on my fingers and knuckles. Why is this? Mainly because even though I'd rather have a working pancreas and even toned skin, my sense of self identity has been based on the positive aspects of my life. Things like being a good husband and father, helping others, and being involved in my community, corny as they may sound to some people, are like a firewall against despair and depression. Don't get me wrong- right after the diabetes diagnosis for a couple of weeks I let myself get down a bit as I imagined myself never eating another piece of cake again or going into a hypoglycemic fit, but I quickly learned after educating myself on the disease and regularly testing my sugar that with a little exercise, effort, and planning, even I could have my cake and (sometimes) eat it too.

I've been lucky with the vitiligo- it's still localized to just my fingers and knuckles. But like diabetes, there's still no cure. There's also no way to know when, or if ever, the loss of pigmentation in the skin will spread. There are concealing products, like Dermablend, but I don't use them. It's probably my "coping mechanism," but when I look at my hands, I think of the blotches as a natural tatto which makes me different. It's ok to laugh, I'm smiling too as I write.

Maybe that's the key, being able to smile while you accept yourself, flaws and all. As I said in another hub, another silver lining in the cloud of diabetes is that we probably look closer at nutrition labels than the average healthy person, which can't hurt.

Good Luck!

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