The Battle of the Sexes in Autoimmune Disease

You know the stereotype of men never asking for directions? Well, I recently learned more about the basis for this, and other traits that differ between males and females, while watching “Battle of the Sexes,” an episode of the National Geographic television series Brain Games. This show is a favorite of my two kids, thanks to its cool science facts and the clever antics of its host.

“Battle of the Sexes” got me thinking about another difference between men and women; namely, the striking female-bias of autoimmune diseases. Nearly 80 percent of people affected by autoimmune diseases are women. ...

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Fast forward 2016 and learning to enjoy a full life with lupus

2016 has been an amazing year. It is hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner! I began the summer with an MBA class – completing another course in my five-year journey to an MBA – and went on to enjoy two family vacations, and greeted fall with my first 5K. What a sense of accomplishment!

Six years ago – back in 2010 – I was working on remembering major events in my life, walking with a walker, completing simple arithmetic, and re-learning how to drive. In 2016, I was camping in the wilderness and running 5Ks.

In July, my family ...

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Valuing support systems and spinning it into the next step

The thought of becoming a Lupus Ambassador started for me while I was at the 2014 Lupus Walk for Hope and listening to the stories shared by the ambassadors before it began. I thought to myself, “I really want to be in that role so I can inspire others the way they inspire me.”

After finding out that I had the honor of representing the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota as one of their ambassadors, I was overjoyed. I set out on a mission to raise awareness for lupus because very few people know about the disease and what it entails.

When I ...

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Raising awareness of the silent warriors and our battle with lupus

When I was chosen to be one of the three Lupus Ambassadors of 2016, I honestly had no idea what to think or expect. I obviously knew the general outline of my expectations based on the role description, but I certainly didn’t know what I was going to experience yet. I met my co-ambassadors and was amazed at their stories, and knew right away we’d make a great team. I found out that being a Lupus Ambassador was honestly as simple as the initial description implied: our job was to represent the disease. What I didn’t know then was the ...

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The future of lupus and personalized medicine

Teva sport sandals, a hot glue gun, and the new J.K. Rowling story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. These are the items recommended for me when I log onto Amazon.com. Netflix thinks I’d like to watch Marvel’s Daredevil, Chelsea, and Orange is the New Black. Not bad suggestions, really.

But how did they know?

These companies, and many others, use recommender systems to guide their customers toward more purchases or content. These systems are like filters, sifting through giant amounts of information in order to predict a person’s preferences.

This is the goal of personalized medicine. We need a way to sift ...

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The story continues: grasping the magnitude of my lupus

In the fall of 2009, my biopsies were non-conclusive. I had some type of muscle atrophy they could only treat with pain medications and steroids. I went to the Mayo Clinic and was diagnosed with a connective skin tissue disorder, which they believed was the root cause behind my hair was falling out and areas of skin blistering, so I was given topical creams. I was never given a firm diagnosis of lupus.

I began to seek alternative therapies. I visited holistic medical practices, received acupuncture treatments, and began detoxifying myself of all the medications I had been previously given. My ...

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Living with lupus as a teenager and what it has taught me

There are times when I sit down and realize how easy it has been to forget who I used to be. Not just as a person, but health-wise, both physically and mentally.

Don’t get me wrong, the number of blessings I have received over the 17 years of my life are numerous, and I am forever thankful for those treasures that got me through the troubles of life. After all, life is no wish-granting factory, as John Green said in his book The Fault in Our Stars.

But at the same time, there are certain things that a child should never have ...

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A snapshot of the onset: the Solliday story 2002 through 2009

Doctor, my hair is falling out in clumps and I have open sores on my hands and feet.

You think I have lupus? Are you sure? No … nobody in my family has lupus. Isn’t that a disease that is inherited? I think I just have food allergies.

Why do I feel so tired and it feels like I have bricks attached to my feet? Now you think I have fibromyalgia? But when I eliminate wheat and gluten, my muscles don’t hurt and I am not as achy. But wait, high fructose corn syrup makes me itch! So I am allergic to corn ...

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Learning and lab: top three moments

This summer has flown by! I feel so incredibly blessed to be spending my summer in the Niewold Lab at Mayo Clinic. The time that I have spent in lab has confirmed my love for research, and playing with bioassays all day has specifically increased my interest in biological research. I find it absolutely fascinating that we can learn so much about cell signaling and responses just by using a collection of buffers, patient sera, a variety of reagents, and complex instrumentation. I would like to focus this post on my top three lab learning moments.

1. Science is not perfect ...

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Research is my genotype of thing

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks since my last post, as I’ve started to run my experiments and sort through data. Although it initially seemed strange to have just started my experiments so late in the summer, I’ve realized it’s due to an aspect of research I haven’t experienced before: project preparation.

Although I’ve done research before, I’ve never had to order my own reagents, find my own protocols, or locate and prepare my own samples. In other words, I’ve never had my own project before, so this has been a taste of what research is really like as opposed ...

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