I am a daughter of 2 loving parents married 28 years, a sister to two amazing young women, and a devoted Christian. I am also a sophomore at Eastern Kentucky University pursuing a career in nursing. I grew up in a military family which eventually led my family back home to Louisville, Kentucky.
In 2012, I began randomly vomiting, lost twenty pounds, and eventually developed extremely low blood pressure which resulted in an undetectable pulse. After two years of emergency room visits, tests, doctors’ appointments, and an ACTH level in the thousands, I was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening autoimmune disease called primary adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s disease. I quickly realized this diagnosis would change my life forever. I currently go to an endocrinologist annually and seek his knowledge very frequently. I am also steroid dependent and take hydrocortisone three times per day along with fludrocortisone twice per day.
Prior to my diagnosis, my family and I struggled with not knowing why I was slowly wasting away. The nurses and doctors who cared for me and eventually diagnosed me gave us strength. From encouraging my family to not give up on finding answers to becoming some of my biggest advocates, they made a huge impact on me. I quickly found that my calling would be in helping children like me and families like mine. After my diagnosis, I learned to advocate for myself and others.
To push for the creation of a protocol benefiting people with Addison’s disease, I spoke at an Emergency Medical Services for Children meeting in Lexington, Kentucky, and helped my mother prepare a presentation documenting my experience with Addison’s disease that she presented at four Emergency Medical Services training sessions in Louisville, Kentucky. After many phone calls, emails, visits, and hours of research, protocols were passed in the state of Kentucky and in the city of Louisville in 2015.
In addition to making sure I take my medication on time every day, I also started to change my diet to gluten free. This has been a difficult transition but has been very rewarding in bettering my lifestyle overall. I think it is also important to always have a positive mindset regarding my autoimmune disease. I don’t like to dwell on the past and instead, I look forward to bringing awareness about a disease that impacts me daily.
The biggest area that I struggle is in remembering I am not alone. Although I have an amazing support system of family and friends, I have very few people close to me that have autoimmune diseases or who truly understand what it is like to have a chronic illness. I have learned to rely heavily on my faith and to remember that God gave me this diagnosis to share with others and glorify Him.
My favorite verse has always been Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”
This verse has been my rock through the years of unanswered questions, a diagnosis, and my life after my diagnosis.
Find Jasmine | @jordannehoward_
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