FAITH NEWS SERVICE – One in twelve Americans—and one in nine women—live with an autoimmune disease.*
According to a 2017 Bingham Memorial Hospital web article, more women are diagnosed with autoimmune diseases than cardiovascular disease and breast cancer combined, causing women across the US to wonder if their life would always hang in the balance while they suffered and sought answers to heal their bodies.
For years, author Tara Smith Johnson battled life-threatening and debilitating internal and physical issues she couldn’t explain—and doctors had no answers or relief for. Gradual weight loss over two years. Grand mal seizures, sometimes several in a row. Severe physical reactions to foods, chemicals, and the environment. Unable to stand or walk. Enduring a season of being bedbound. Color coding Scriptures, drawing from them deep hope and abundant strength in the Lord. Seeing a plethora of doctors, neurologists, and nurses for answers—and always coming up empty. This was Tara’s years-long journey before a dysautonomia diagnosis
At first she didn’t fit neatly into the category of dysautonomia, and finding a comfortable path to healing proved challenging. Dysautonomia is an umbrella term that covers a number of conditions, all of which include some level of autonomic dysfunction. In simplest terms, all the stuff a healthy body does automatically, a dysautonomia patient’s body either does improperly or not at all.
“I have neurotoxicity,” Johnson explains. A common virus exacerbated by common antibiotics had caused her to be sick initially, and unknowingly, dysautonomia symptoms may have wreaked havoc on her body since toddlerhood.
Her team of doctors, neurologists, and allergists worked tirelessly with her to create a health plan to manage her symptoms and reactions. Enter nine hundred pills a day. A mental and physical health regimen that consists of rest, walking her service dog, Trixie, and exposure to glorious sunlight. Using essential oils to coax the nervous system. And Tara still color codes Scriptures to encourage her during her difficult days.
Johnson’s debut memoir Defeating Dysautonomia: One Spoon at a Time with Faith, Hope, and Love seeks to provide authentic help to others with autoimmune diseases because, she says, “One day you will tell your story of how you’ve overcome what you’re going through now, and it will become part of someone else’s survival guide.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After special-education teacher Tara Smith Johnson was diagnosed with dysautonomia, an autoimmune disorder, she put the books away and became an advocate for people who experience chronic illnesses. She founded Hope for Team Tara, an organization that raises money for dysautonomia awareness through Dinner and Dancing for Dysautonomia. Tara has a daughter and lives in Memphis, Tennessee, with her service dog, Trixie, who has medic alert superpowers and travels everywhere with Tara. Visit www.hope4teamtara.org and connect with her on social media.
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