Undifferentiated connective tissue disease, or UCTD for short, is a systemic autoimmune disease. I have UCTD and it AIN'T FUN! I try not to let it define who I am although sometimes difficult. I stay on top of my symptoms and report them as needed. It is not uncommon or unusual for people with Primary Immune Deficiencies (PID) to end up developing UCTD or any other type of Auto-Immune Disease.  In short, my body’s faulty immune system does not behave normally and we already know that I am a RARE breed. 

In a normal immune system, it's main job is to fight infections such as bacteria and viruses, (even the ever so new COVID-19) In my case, my immune system is thinking it's allowed to attack itself. I say it's got a lot of nerve to do such a thing.  In UCTD, autoimmunity may cause the immune system to attack specific parts of the body and can cause a plethora of problems. The phrase “connective tissue disease” is used to describe the diseases of the immune system that are treated primarily by experts called rheumatologists. UCTD are diseases that often involve the joints, cartilage, muscles, and skin. They can also affect the bone marrow (which are B Cells)  and mine are definitely faulty and also the nervous system, and blood vessels. Connective tissue disease types can include any or all of the following: systemic lupus erythematosus (“lupus”), scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s disease, myositis, and vasculitis.

Why do they call what I have UCTD? My Auto Immunity issues do not fulfill the diagnostic criteria established for an AID disease which means I have several and all may not show positivity in today's lab results. I do have a positive ANA which is only one of the indicators in diagnosis. In such circumstances, it is often considered to have “undifferentiated” connective tissue disease. Over time, people with UCTD may evolve into one of the more specific connective tissue diseases, such as lupus, Sjogren’s, or scleroderma.

Let's talk about Symptoms of UCTD. It can affect many people differently. Some of the more common symptoms can include: Low-Grade Fevers, Joint Pain & Inflammation in the joints and soft tissue/connective tissue that cause MUCH discomfort (Tendons & Sheaths)  - Chronic Fatigue- Rashes- Enlarged Nodes- Color Changes To Skin (Called Reynaud's) and many more. 

Who are the chosen ones to be blessed AF with this BS? It's non-discriminatory as far as ethnicity. All races can develop UCTD. Women are more commonly affected. It can start anywhere between the ages of let us say 30-55. If you've made it this far, you may want to know what causes UCTD?  It's quite unfortunate to know that no one knows. All we know at this time is it's an autoimmune disease. A glitch, a faulty switch?? Most definitely an abnormal immune response which leads to inflammation and can be damaging to various organs and tissue. SMDFH at this point in this entry. The abnormal immune response may lead to inflammation and damage of the various organs that are involved in a given individual.

Auto-immune diseases are not easy to diagnose and time-consuming. It takes an expert in the field called a rheumatologist to establish a definitive diagnosis. To establish this type of dx, the expert must take into consideration many factors. A complete history, many blood tests - and lots of blood taken - to the tune of initially maybe 20 vials (that's in my memory - give or take a few) There is not ONE SPECIFIC blood test that can offer a dx. Other tests including CT Scans, X-rays, Biopsies, and a plethora of more is possible including heart, lung, and abdominal tests if those organs are thought to be involved. 

Although there is no cure for these diseases, they can flare and remiss as well. Early diagnosis treatment of UCTD is essential. There are treatments out there that can stop the progression of the disease. This disease is considered chronic and medical therapy will become a part of your life if you chose to treat. Believe it or not, I have met people who do nothing. Here's some icing on my cake - To treat UCTD, it requires immunosuppressive drugs. These drugs are supposed to help control inflammation. So my already EFFED-UP immune-system is now getting immunosuppressive therapies. A mouthful?? Indeed. The fact that these therapies can delete antibodies and b-cells is quite scary for someone who requires SCIG therapy. When the immunosuppressive DEPLETES, my SCIG REPLETES - took me a while to get it. But I do :-)I require immunosuppressive medicines to control the inflammation

and damage caused by the abnormal immune response.  Currently, I am using Rituxan every 6 months - which I've had 2 cycles of. I am not sure if it is working as of yet as I still have inflammation. My hands are affected which is awful and painful at times. I also take Plaquenil, Arava which is a Pyrimidine synthesis inhibitor. In December of 2019 I had 12 injections of steroids placed directly into my joints under x-ray. I am currently waiting for an appointment for more. THEY F&CKING HURT - but they also bring me much needed relief. My left wrist is now affected and it too will be injected ASAP. Like I said, IT AIN'T FUN - but I never lose hope and continue to live #ZEBRASTRONG. I hope in some small way, a person with similar illness can find a glimmer of hope that LIFE DOES GO ON -  WE CAN FIGHT THROUGH IT - YOU WILL WIN!!  Life is like a box of chocolates, I ended up with the CHOCOLATEMUSH!

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April 29,2020