THE TRAGIC RESULTS OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE: Millions suffer..

THE TRAGIC RESULTS OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE: Millions suffer..

Postby Oscar » Tue Oct 15, 2013 5:33 pm

THE TRAGIC RESULTS OF AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE: Millions suffer when attacked by their own immune system

by Ed Finn October 2013 CCPA Monitor

(Reprinted with permission)

QUOTE: ""It is no coincidence that the onset of autoimmune disease and the spread of other organic malfunctions such as cancer have occurred in tandem with the cumulative pollution of our atmosphere, water, and soil.""

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A recent issue of the New Yorker magazine contained an article by Meghan O’Rourke titled "What’s Wrong with Me?" It’s a disturbing account of her long and painful struggle with autoimmune disease. This is a debilitating condition that is caused when the body’s immune system, designed to protect our healthy organs and tissue, instead attacks them. (EXCERPT BELOW)

The distressful result can take many forms. The main effect is to afflict a victim with chronic fatigue, but other symptoms can include a flu-like malaise, excruciating headaches, rashes, hives, numbness of the limbs, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatic arthritis.

O’Rourke is a professional writer whose autoimmune attacks have sometimes been so severe that she has been unable to write, or even read: "My brain seemed enveloped in a thick gray fog."

She recalls how difficult it was to find doctors who could diagnose her ills and help her overcome them. Most physicians didn’t even believe there was such a disease or that the immune system itself could ever be a source of ill-health. She relates spending years in futile visits to doctors who implied — if not openly told her — "that it was all in my head."

She did eventually find physicians who had belatedly become aware that immune dysfunction was real and that it was indeed the cause of many of their patients’ ailments. But they had no "cure" or even effective medications to offer.

O’Rourke is now managing to cope with her autoimmune attacks and to minimize and moderate them — with the help of other individuals and groups who suffer from the same malaise. What they all have in common is the inability of their doctors to alleviate their symptoms. She found and made contact with them on the Internet, where blogs by and for such autoimmune victims proliferate.

Now she follows a gluten-free, organic, almost dairy-free diet, and enjoys some relief from her misbehaving immune system. She still suffers from occasional sharp flare-ups and is resigned to never regaining her previous robust state of health. But her life is not as grievously tormented as it was and she counts herself lucky no longer to be spending her life mainly as a patient.

I relate Meghan O’Rourke’s experience for two reasons. The first is that autoimmune disease in its various forms has reached near epidemic proportions. She refers to a study that estimates that at least 50 million Americans are now afflicted by it and, significantly, that two-thirds of them are women. It’s probably safe to assume from a demographic comparison that at least 5 million Canadians are similarly afflicted, and that most of them are also women. My wife has been one of them for many years, but, like O’Rourke, has been able to make the infirmity tolerable through the same dietary regimen. We also know several female friends and neighbours who suffer from the same malady.

The second reason I delve into this subject is that it reflects not only the inability (or unwillingness) of physicians to deal with the effects of a dysfunctional immune system, but also their failure to diagnose its primary root source: the contamination of our environment.

In her New Yorker article, O’Rourke betrays the same unawareness. She does refer briefly to a possibility that her ordeal might have been triggered by "chemical exposure," but otherwise ignores that causative source even though it is almost surely the main (if not sole) cause of a traitorous immune system.

It is clearly no coincidence that the onset of this multifarious disease — and the rapidly soaring rates of cancer and many other organic malfunctions — have occurred in tandem with the cumulative pollution of our atmosphere, water, and soil over the past century. We have all been increasingly exposed to toxic chemicals, many of which end up in the food we eat, and it’s not surprising that the immune systems of many people haven’t been able to cope with the virulent overdose.

I’ve lived long enough to remember when everyone’s immune system behaved as it was intended, when cancer rates were much lower, when allergies were almost unknown. It’s true that most people are still living longer, but that’s mainly because modern medical methods and treatments have improved. They can’t cure the ill-effects of all the industrial toxins that make so many people chronically sick, but they can prolong life even when it becomes hardly worth living.

This is an especially tragic fate for the many thousands of young and middle-aged women who have been stricken by one of the worst afflictions of a poisoned planet. As the toxic chemicals continue to be spewed out in ever larger quantities, they will claim more and more victims, most of them young women whose lives will be blighted and constricted for as long as they live. A planet whose ecosphere is poisoned reacts on a universal scale in the same perverse way that an individual’s skewed immune system does.

Are future prospects really that bleak? Are more and even worse disease-causing outbreaks from chemical pollution inescapable?

It’s not being overly pessimistic — simply realistic — to answer in the affirmative. The banning of harmful chemicals and a massive global cleanup are theoretically still possible, but only if corporate and political leaders decide to undertake it. And, tragically, there is not the faintest sign they are thinking about such a life- and planet-saving project — or even perceiving the need for it.

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EXCERPT: O'ROURKE: What’s Wrong With Me?

[ http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013 ... ct_orourke [

I had an autoimmune disease. Then the disease had me.

by Meghan O’Rourke August 26, 2013

llness narratives usually have startling beginnings—the fall at the supermarket, the lump discovered in the abdomen, the doctor’s call. Not mine. I got sick the way Hemingway says you go broke: “gradually and then suddenly.” One way to tell the story is to say that I was ill for a long time—at least half a dozen years—before any doctor I saw believed I had a disease. Another is to say that it took hold in 2009, the stressful year after my mother died, when a debilitating fatigue overcame me, my lymph nodes ached for months, and a test suggested that I had recently had Epstein-Barr virus. Still another way is to say that it began in February of 2012, on a windy beach in Vietnam; my boyfriend and I were reading by the water when I noticed a rash on my inner arm—seven or eight vibrantly red bumps. At home in New York, three days later, I had a low fever. For weeks, I drifted along in a flulike malaise that I thought was protracted jet lag. I began getting headaches and feeling dizzy when I ate. At talks I gave, I found myself forgetting words. I kept reversing phrases—saying things like “I’ll meet you at the cooler water.” . . .
Oscar
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