LCHM Summer 2017 - 15

L C M E D S O C .O R G

help with the blood flow to her fingers. She husband helps to button her clothes. She can't
found it helped tremendously, but insurance really make plans with friends because she never
wouldn't pay for it because Viagra is for men knows how her stomach will be on a given day.
and Jean certainly isn't a man. She couldn't And air conditioning is her nemesis - the cold
afford them herself, so she got them from runs right through her, making her body ache
understanding men friends and cut the pills and her fingers throb. She loves the heat; it
in half to make them last longer. But eventu- keeps things from hurting as much. She has
ally that ended, and now she is back to cold, gotten adept at figuring out how to do everyday
painful fingers.
things. The gloves help and she recently had
horizontal lever type doorknobs installed so
The sores on Jean's fingers are painful and she can use her forearm to open them.
her hands are too weak to do many of the
things she enjoys. She can barely dig through
No one knows if or when a cure will be
her purse for her wallet, so gardening is pretty found, but research is being done to find better
much out of the question. Her fingernails ways to treat symptoms, prevent organ damage,
curve around her fingertip. The fingers are and improve the quality of life for people
getting shorter as the bone self-absorbs and with scleroderma. Studies are examining the
the non-healing sores keep eating away at her immune system, genetics, cell biology, and
fingers. Because her fingers hurt so much, she molecular biology, which has helped reveal the
wears gloves most of the time.
causes of scleroderma, improve existing treatment, and created new treatment approaches.
Only certain gloves will work; some put too For those dealing with this devastating disease
much pressure on her tender fingertips. Her there are patient support groups such as a

scleroderma Facebook group where people
can share, educate and vent to each other
and websites such as
to learn more.
For Jean, it's a scary future. Already experiencing shortness of breath, she worries about
damage to her lungs, losing more fingers and
the slow, inevitable decline in her mobility and
freedom. As a friend, I try not to think about
what the future holds for her because it's too
heartbreaking. I'll just be there for her when
she needs me, with a purified slice of pizza
and a mocha latte from Starbucks.
Barbara Wood has been the Marketing Coordinator at Sacred Heart Hospital since 2008, managing
advertising, marketing, and public relations for both
the hospital and health care system. Ms. Wood is
a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania
where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Communications and lives in Orefield with her husband
Sam. She has two children, Ryan and Olivia.

SUMMER 2017 | Lehigh County Health & Medicine 15


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of LCHM Summer 2017

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