This week I lost two amazing men in my life. Not only is my heart aching for both of them, but my body is in flare-up mode from the emotional stress.
On Friday, November 11th, my childhood best friend Dominic Ameche tragically died in a car accident. I have known Dominic for nearly 27 years, so the emotional shock and stress of losing one of my longest and closest friends in my life has been difficult to handle. And on Monday, November 14th, my family got another phone call that my Great Uncle Dick Brandel passed away from a terminal heart infection that he got after back surgery this summer. He lived a long and happy 80 years, but it was still sad to get the news all in one week.
It is even more difficult to handle emotional stress like losing loved ones when you have an auto-immune disease that is triggered by stress. Not only is my heart missing both of them, but my body is painfully reminding me of my loss.
According to rheumatologists, stress can make the auto-immune condition worse and can lead to flare-ups. The scientific reason is that inflammation in RA patients is partly caused by molecules called cytokines, which can be released by stress. If you’re stressed and are releasing more cytokines, you probably will develop more inflammation, resulting in more pain. This week has been proof of that for me.
Time and rest is really the only way to get through a flare-up triggered by emotional stress. So I’m staying in positive spirits and surrounding myself with friends and loved ones this week as a support system (and partially as a distraction). I will deeply miss both of them, but we have to celebrate their lives in order to get through this painful time.