April 2, 2022
My name is Kim Fortin and I am from Aylesford, Nova Scotia. This has been my personal experience living with scleroderma.
My symptoms first appeared in 2002 after a tragic incident in my life. It took 2 years to get my diagnosis and this was only after I pushed to see an internist. So, in 2004 I was diagnosed with scleroderma as part of my Mixed Connective Tissue Disease – an autoimmune disease which consists of the overlap of a number of diseases. My major ones are scleroderma, which is limited to CREST and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
During the initial phase of the disease I had a lot of inflammation, swelling and fatigue. I would say my biggest challenge living with scleroderma has been learning to adapt and listen to my body.
It took a number of years, and much trial and error to find a treatment that worked for me. It was a very long journey as most of the drugs used to treat I was allergic to or the side effects were unbearable. I now see a Rheumatologist once a year and I have been lucky to have had her since my diagnosis.
While my life has changed from what it was before I still enjoy my hobbies of horseback riding and gardening. I have learned to listen to my body, and adjust my lifestyle.
Scleroderma does not define you, it is just part of you. I would like others living with scleroderma to know that they are not alone, that there is help out there. I also want them to know that they can enjoy life to the fullest, they may just have to adjust some things.
I first heard about Scleroderma Atlantic when I went to an information session in Kentville, NS, many years ago. It was so nice to meet and be able to talk to people who understood what I was going through. I have learned so much through them. The friendships, information, and support from Scleroderma Atlantic is an important part of my journey.