Hannah Demsien


Hi all! My name is Hannah Demsien; I’m a senior at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I’m excited to be given the opportunity to share my story with all of you!

When I was twelve years old, I was diagnosed with Mixed Connective Tissue Disease (MCTD). MCTD is an autoimmune disease that combines multiple diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma. Right now, the only disease that I have is rheumatoid arthritis, but over time I will develop symptoms of other diseases common to MCTD. This past summer, I was diagnosed with ulcerative proctitis, also considered an autoimmune disease. Ulcerative proctitis is a limited form of ulcerative colitis, which is similar to Crohn’s Disease. Basically it means that I have ulcers in my digestive tract.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with either of these conditions, I’ll give a quick explanation of how they affect my life on a daily basis. I have arthritis in every joint in my body, so physical activities are often painful. A very simplified explanation of ulcerative proctitis is that I have a lot of stomach pain and am unable to eat certain foods. Other symptoms of MCTD include fatigue and numbness of my fingers and toes in cold weather. I have to take a lot of medication, including injections that I get every week. However, because my conditions are autoimmune diseases, my medications and my body itself slow down healing and impede my body’s ability to fight infection. So, whenever I get sick, even if it is a slight cold, I have to go off of my medications, which makes all of my symptoms worse.


What inspires me to keep going when days are really bad? A lot actually! My family for one: my parents are supportive of all of my goals, and my brother never fails to cheer me up. My friends for another thing: they let me vent about my problems and never judge me because of my health issues. My faith: with God’s help, I’ve never given up. And, believe it or not, school! Having something to do keeps my mind off of whatever issue I may be dealing with.
For everyone who is facing health problems, I would give you a couple of pieces of advice. First of all, don’t let stress get to you. School, medications and their side effects, and the health conditions themselves all together can really weigh on you. Taking time to talk to someone about your problems and setting aside time to do what you enjoy everyday, regardless of how busy you are, can really help relieve stress and give you a peace of mind. Whether it’s watching your favorite show on Netflix or reading Harry Potter for an hour, that little chunk of “me” time helps keep you sane. Second, don’t be afraid of challenges. My health conditions have thrown a lot of challenges at me through the years, but I’ve been blessed with people and skills that have helped me through them. Facing challenges and coming out the other side, even if you come out slightly worse for the before, makes you a stronger person and leads other people to view you with respect. If you don’t want other people to pity you, then don’t pity yourself. Rising above your situation is the best way to show others that you are an independent, capable individual.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of you!


One thought on “Hannah Demsien

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