Me And Venus Williams

Yup, just like me…

Venus Williams and I have a lot in common.  I know, you’re surprised.  I was too.  But hey, we’re both talented, self-confident, stunning, and chronically ill.  (Wait, I forgot modest!)

You may recall that my twin under the skin, Venus, withdrew from the U.S. Open last year and announced that she is battling Sjogren’s Syndrome.   Hey, me too!  I was first diagnosed shortly after I turned 30, and Venus is the first famous person I’ve heard of with the same disease.  Wa-hoo!  This is great!
Okay, I know you’re thinking “WTF?  How is this great?”.  Well, Sjogren’s is not very common, and it’s very misunderstood.  Now that a celebrity has gone public on this issue, people are actually aware of it.  That’s a good thing.
I admit to not being totally thrilled with some of the coverage (we could create a lot of jobs if news organizations actually used fact checkers), but even a semi-accurate story is better than none.  And, because sometimes I’m not a very nice person, I will also cop to being a little annoyed that Venus initially seemed to be downplaying our illness.   Then just this past Monday, she was forced to withdraw from the Australian Open, and my empathy kicked in.  No, Sjogren’s has not forced me to give up a career that I trained for my entire life, and at which I was unbelievably successful, but it has stolen many things from me.  I work hard fighting this disease, and have been, according to one of my four hundred or so doctors, incredibly successful.
“Incredibly  successful” in this context means that most weeks I have five or six days during which I can live my life at about 75% of the capacity I had before.  (Like everyone I know with a life-altering illness, “before” and “after” always refer to my diagnosis, which by the way, came about four years after the first symptoms appeared.  I still hold a grudge against the doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital, just so you know.)
Living with a chronic illness changes everything.  What surprises me daily is that not all of those changes are bad.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

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