Welcome, and thanks for stopping by (San Diego…sorry, couldn’t resist channeling my inner Veronica Corningstone for a moment :D)! My name is Jessica Hawk-Tillman. In January 2010, I was officially diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. At that time, I knew nothing about the disease, or autoimmune illness in general, but that changed quickly. Two and a half years later, my list of diagnoses include:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Severe Gluten/Dairy Intolerances
- Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia
- Adrenal insufficiency, due to long-term steroid use
- Anemia of chronic illness
My treatment plan is a constant work in progress. So far, I’ve failed all but one of the approved biologic drugs, which, for those not crazily overeducated on this stuff (I wasn’t either, until I had to be!), are the strongest drugs used to fight “moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis”, just like the commercials say. I am new to Rituxan, my last-ditch biologic. Due to liver and blood issues, I’ve also stopped taking methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and Celebrex. On the positive side, I am exploring Eastern medicine and continue to learn more everyday. With this blog, I hope to raise awareness of these diseases, connect and converse with others that struggle with chronic autoimmune disease, and maybe, just maybe, affect a bit of change.
Since these illnesses are something I have, and not who I am, this blog is not just about coping with RA and everything else I listed. You’ll see posts about technology and work/life balance, since I have a great career with a major technology company. I love travel, cooking, learning about wine, hiking, gardening, photography, writing, baseball, hockey, college sports, and music/singing, which means two things. First, I have little time to wallow in sickness 🙂 Also, a smattering of those topics are a given. Most importantly, you’ll hear tons about my family: Lora, my amazing wife; Bear*, my wonderful son; and the two pooches who rule our home, Sam and Cooper.
Health is an obvious passion for me, and I believe strongly in finding solutions to help everyone in our country, especially children, learn about and access real, healthy food, daily exercise, and healthcare, regardless of income level. I also spend a lot of time thinking about equal rights for all, regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation/identification.
Lora and I are striving to raise Bear to be a loving, caring, thinking person in the world, happy with and unafraid to be himself, and eager to leave a positive impact on the planet. We try to live that example for him everyday, and this blog is an important part of my journey. Thank you for being a part of it!
*his blog pseudonym 🙂