I am a doctor, wife, mother of three, avid reader and reluctant hockey mom. My passion is travel and I spend far too much time surfing the internet planning trips, but I also love to cook, hike with our faithful yellow lab, and cheer on the New England Patriots. Life was on a happy cruise control until my eleven year old daughter became ill and was subsequently diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), psoriasis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and celiac disease.
For two decades, I have worked in Boston teaching hospitals as an internal medicine physician. I preach evidence-based medicine, so when our daughter first became ill, my husband and I were on board with whatever her team of doctors told us to do. Yet, despite top-notch medical care, she continued to flare with pain, exhaustion and weight loss. We clearly saw the limits of the current medical approach to autoimmune diseases. Why the focus on treating symptoms rather than deciphering the cause and fighting that? Why the acceptance of JIA as chronic and progressive in our child? Why the resignation that she will be dependent on these treatments forever? She had five amazing specialists – a rheumatologist, gastroenterologist, endocrinologist, dermatologist, and ophthalmologist. But what she really needed was an “autoimmunologist,” a physician focused on the whole person, identifying root cause and treating autoimmunity itself rather than its effects on individual organs. The problem is, autoimmunologists don’t exist in our current medical system.
So, I decided to become the autoimmunologist that my daughter needed. As a mother and a physician, I felt uniquely positioned to figure things out and try to heal her in a way that traditional medicine was struggling to do. I’ve spent the last year and a half researching, learning, questioning and experimenting. I read medical journals, attended medical conferences and conferred with experts. But I also searched outside of the confines of traditional medicine, learning from the wisdom and experiences of individuals with autoimmune disease, researching the evidence for the impact of nutrition, stress and the environment on our health, and exploring non-Western medicine such as Ayurveda. Along the way, I’ve learned a ton and my daughter got better. I hope to share some of what I’ve found helpful with you.
The photograph above was taken two years ago, just before our daughter was diagnosed. Over the preceding weeks, she had her first flares of arthritis, but we were blissfully unaware of what lay ahead. In the meantime, we went on vacation to visit family in England, where my uncle led us on this lovely hike thru fields of wheat, climbing over fences and rambling down muddy lanes. The next day, our daughter had trouble getting out of bed because her whole body ached. The irony of this photograph isn’t lost on me. The wheat, the journey, beating our own path towards a blue sky. I know you may have found this site because you, too, are searching for answers. Although everyone’s journey is unique, I hope that some of what you find here will make your path a little easier to travel.
Welcome to Autoimmunologist.