CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — Nearly 24 million people are living with an auto-immune disease, according to the Office on Women's Health (OWH) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
News 5 spoke to one Northeast Ohio woman who is living with three auto-immune diseases.
Angie Gleine says her lifetime of pain started when she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at three-years-old.
“I would have to get injections [and] get my knee drained on and off over the years,” Gleine said.
Gleine went into remission until her 30’s. That’s when she was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, which is another form of arthritis that sparked chronic pain her spine.
“You just think okay I’m going to feel like this forever. This is how it’s gonna be forever. I’m never going to feel better,” she said.
Gleine says her life as a wife and mother of two started spiraling. According to OWH, more women than men have an auto-immune disease.
“You try to fake it till you make it, but physically I couldn’t use my hands. I physically couldn’t walk up and down the stairs. I couldn’t squeeze the toothpaste,” Gleine said. “That’s when I started journaling.”
But Gleine eventually traded her journal for a safe space she created on Facebook through a public page called “Whoa Is Not Me.” The page has more than more than 200 members.
“I needed to connect with people in order to feel supported and feel good about who I am in my new normal.”
Gleine’s mission was to give hope to other women, but she says she ended up needing it more than ever after she was diagnosed with a third auto-immune disease, Alopecia Areata, which causes severe hair loss.
“Luckily I had that support built and so I had something to lean on when the next chip fell and that’s really what got me through,” Gleine said.
It was through her online family, Gleine says she found herself and the words to write her first book, “Because The Other Kid Got Hit By A Bus,” dedicated to those living without a cure and inspiring others to “turn challenges into opportunities and become the person you were meant to be.”
“I’m not here to bake cookies and pack kid's lunches. I think we all have a deeper purpose and I think we can all contribute to making everybody feel a little bit better and a little more accepted,” she said.