By Frank, United States, December 21, 2014
My Sarcoidosis story:
Hello my name is Frank Rivera. I am 47 . My story actually goes back to 2004. While in Florida I was found to have a lump in my lungs. After a biopsy they told me I had lung cancer. That rocked my world. In the meantime I ended up moving to Oklahoma and getting chemotherapy and radiation. In 2009 and 3 ½ yrs. later I ended up back in New York. Well my fiancé at the time Diana got pregnant and was due to have the baby in April of 2011. Well unfortunately Isabella Joy Rivera was born in January 3rd due to complications. She was too premature and passed away on January 8, 2011. It broke our hearts to the core. Then on January 23, 2011, I went to Mather Hospital for lower abdomen pain. And they took X-rays and CT Scans. They told me it was my IBS acting up. Well in April of 2011, I went back due to the same problems as well as breathing problems. According to the dr. there he asked me if I knew I had 2 lumps in both my lower lobes in the lungs since the January visit. I was shocked thinking my lung cancer had reappeared. So I went to an oncologist surgeon who took a biopsy of my inflamed lymph nodes and found out I have Sarcoidosis. I was like what is that?? I never heard of it. Well little did I know what kind of roller coaster I have been on since. I also found out I was misdiagnosed about the lung cancer in 2004, by Dr Padilla of Mt. Sinai Hospital.
I was first diagnosed in my lungs and lymph nodes and it grew into my neurological system, then in my eyes (uevitis), then it has attacked my gallbladder, which I got removed in July 2011. Then since one of the prescriptions for Sarcoidosis is Prednisone 40mg (steroid) it started to eat away at my colon. Between that and my Irritable Bowel Syndrome and my Diverticulitis, in October of 2011, I was in the hospital for 25 days before I had a resection of the small colon. They removed about a foot of colon. All the while I was still on 40 mg of Prednisone as well as Klonopin, for the tremors, Zoloft for depression, mysoline also for tremors, protonix for the heartburn and Advair for the lungs and naproxen for the arthritis. In April 2012 I went back into the hospital for abdomen cramps to find out the my colon ruptured and I ended up with sepsis. I almost died. I was on life support for 3days and don’t remember those days at all. I had a colostomy bag put on me When I did wake up the doctors told me I was a miracle to be alive. I only remained in the hospital for another 3 more days. They decided to taper my Prednisone to5mg and took me off of the naproxen. In July I got I got a new rheumatologist and he has put me on 15 mg of methrotrexate, now I am on 20mg, and remicade, and physical therapy due to the Sarcoidosis arthritis. In October 2011 I had another surgery for the removal of the colostomy bag.
Now I have to deal with the colds that the methrotrexate which is a chemotherapy pill that makes me susceptible to other colds. I have already had two in the past month. I now have to go back and get another surgery on an incisional hernia. I will be having that either in the end of the month of June of beginning of July. The problem is that I need to be off the methrotrexate for at least 3 weeks, but when I don’t take it I can barely walk. So I am in a catch. I received the surgery in August
I just want to let everyone know that no matter how hard it has affected my life, I will keep a smile on my face. Even though I am on disability, I know that it may have changed my life but it won’t run my life. I refuse to give into this disease, don’t get me wrong there are days where I cry and ask why me.I just answer myself by saying God only gives you what you can handle. I use a cane now and then but that doesn’t define me. What defines me is the strength to carry on. Sarcoidosis is what I have not what I am! My mission in life is to help others with diseases that on the outside you look fine, but on the inside the pain is unbearable.In December of 2013 I ended up having another surgery to fix the mesh of the hernia so that makes a total of 6 surgeries in 3 years. But I am still here kicking and fighting.
My Sarcoidosis thoughts as I live and move forward with this disease.
As I sit here this morning thinking about this disease,Sarcoidosis, there are many people with Sarcoidosis that do get many other problems some are associated with the disease then some aren't associated but masked looking like many other diseases. Sarecoidosis is classified as an auto immune disease, though it takes on many other disease like symptoms. That is what makes it so difficult for doctors and scientists to get a hold of the cause and cure. We as people who have Sarcokdosis have to be diligent in our own care, by keeping up to date with the medicines, and new ways to combat this terrible disease. We have to be our own doctors and learn to not just accept everything a doctor says is always right. Don't be afraid to ask for a second or a third opinion until you feel comfortable with your doctors and your care. Each one of us "Sarkies" need to control your own care by being aware of your care and what your body needs and how it feels.
One thing that I feel as a Sarcoidosis patient is that us as a "community", maybe not one that we wanted to be part of, but we are, need to gather together instead of everyone having their own agenda. We all have a disease that effects everyone of us in a different way but it srare advocacytill is the same disease and there are many ways we could work together to get funding and acknowledgement that this disease needs and we need to get our priorities together to help those that really need it. I am not saying you don't need it but there are many people without insurance and basic medicines and can't get a simple X-Rray or CT Scan.
I know that I am not perfrare advocacyect and will never be, but I do know one thing. I would do as much as I could to help others anyway legal. I am not trying to put myself on a pedestal, but us as a "Sarkie" nation, which many of us do, need to get together and get this whole movement working together. We are all in it for the right reasons, now let's keep the momentum going so we can all get this disease controlled and then see it go to the waste side.
I want everyone to know trare advocacyhat I DO LOVE YOU ALL. I am sure some of you may doubt that and even doubt my ways of fund-raising. We all have our own ways and we are all determined to get it done, that is why we are stubborn, otherwise we wouldn't be doing this and fighting this disease.
A couple of things I wanted to say before I close this note! Don't be afraid to be afraid, don't judge people for how they react to the disease also. Each person is different and has different symptoms and pains and aches.
The best thing I could tell anyone who has any type of disease. Your mind has an amazing power! It will either help or hinder your success or failure. Your mind is 90% of your recovery. I know from personal trials and tribulations that if you don't think positive and give up your body will follow. It is always easier said than done, but if you can't do it alone don't be afraid to go out and get help. There are many places that will help for cheap or no mrare advocacyoney for that matter that will counsel you and help you. Don't think you are weak if you are talking to a counselor. If anything it makes you stronger to realize you can't do it all by yourself.
Another thing is your family. You have to remember not everyone understands what you are going through or will ever understand. Family may not be blood. It can be even a stranger that you can talk to who understands and doesn't judge you. I personally also think a family member or friend should be able to kick you in the butt sometimes , but must understand that sometimes for a patient "No means No." But as patients don't take your disease as a death sentence and that every pain means something new is going on and is related to your original diagnosis. Sometimes it is what it is. Learn our body!! rare advocacyKnow its quirks, pains, aches, instabilities.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST THERE WAS THIS GREAT BASKETBALL COACH , JIMMY VALVANO, ONCE SAID" DON'T EVER GIVE UP! DON'T EVER GIVE UP!"
I wrote this just because I hope it may help one person! If that happens I will be ecstatic and will know I made a difference in someone's life!
I am always just a message away if you need me! My email is [email protected] If I don't get to you right away it doesn't mean I am ignoring you. Most of the time it is because I like you are dealing with the same things and insecurities you are going through. As of right now I am dealing with a bout with Bronchitis bordering on pneumonia so back on the steroids I go for a Blast hopefully only, but 3 days into it I feel the same or worse. But I can't spend my life in bed. I am staying in the house as much as possible but I might as well be in the hospital if I have to stay in bed all day.
I started this Non-Profit group called Sarcoidosis of Long Island. It really has been a tough go at it, but worth the challenge. If we can help just one person than it has been worth it. We have had 2 Sarcoidosis 5k Fun Runs , A movie fund raiser, and a Friendly's Dinner fund raiser. We have received proclamations from our town, our county, our State representative, and US Representative as well as US Senator Charles "Chuck Schumer. We also have a support group for the locals. I am proud that a man who on April 2012 had a slim chance of living has gotten this far. There have been setbacks but you roll with the punches and get back up again and start again. Lately the "flare Ups", Sarcoidosis flare ups are very tough, it in your lymph nodes, lungs, neurological, arthritis, eyes, gi system, skin. Add to that Crohn's and Colitis, IBS and good old Diverticulosis and it is so much fun. But all in all I am alive thanks to God and my wife Diana and her family and as well as some of my family members and friends!!!
I LOVE YOU ALL!