• Sarah Schafer, MD

Navigating the Holidays

Updated: Sep 8

Holiday time is often family time. Even for healthy folks, family gatherings can be emotionally challenging. For Sjogren’s patients, the holidays can be a minefield. We need to set clear limits, without apology, to protect our health. Many of us deal with insensitive comments or unreasonable demands when we feel most in need of understanding and support. I write about this in my article How to talk to with family about Sjogren's.

In addition to the suggestions in the article, I would like to share my current go-to response to insensitive comments, illustrated by this true story:

A friendly acquaintance gave me unsolicited advice about a diet that was sure to make me well.

My response: “That’s interesting. Why don’t you tell me what you know about Sjogren’s?”

This stopped him dead in his tracks. He admitted that he had no idea what Sjogren’s was.

In this case, the encounter did not warrant further effort. When the relationship is important to me or the person expresses genuine interest, I suggest they start by exploring the Sjogren's Foundation website and reading this excellent open access article by Kathy Hammitt, a Sjogren's patient who works with the Foundation.

What’s up next for Sjogren's Advocate? I plan to write about the needs of newly diagnosed patients, including the importance of establishing ongoing care with a core health care team.

Patients: Please send feedback to me via the Contact Form on these two items:

1. What do you wish that you knew early on about getting good care?

2. I want to hear how the prototype form works in real life before I create a printable form. To try it out, simply use it as an outline to organize your history for your next medical visit. Tell me how it works!

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