My name is Patty Diaz and have been living in New York City my entire life. With the help of my close family members, I am slowly but steadily paving a road of happy memories for myself and my thirteen year old son, Matthew.
I worked in the fashion industry for 14 years specializing in product development and production for home, room decor and lifestyle products. It was my passion to create a product and see the final production results in the retail stores. Color approvals, spec approvals and product testing were my life. It definitely wasn’t an easy task, but it challenged me everyday.
I love challenges and setting goals; they keep me moving even in the hardest times of my life.
In 1997, at the age of 17, my life changed forever, physically and emotionally. It all started with symptoms of the common flu. After a few days, I was seemingly getting worse, so I was rushed to the ER. I was in the intensive care unit for a week with a pericarditis diagnose. After the scary stay in the hospital, my schedule involved a lot of doctor follow-ups. I had no idea how such a thing could have happened to me. As far as I knew, I was the healthiest in the family: I hardly ever got sick and enjoyed exercising. One thing I noticed was the swelling on my fingers, but that didn’t bother me until they started to become itchy. My blood work wasn’t normal either and it had me going back to the doctor's office for further testing. It took about 2 years, for the hospital to tell me what could have caused the pericarditis and swelling on my hands. Scleroderma, an autoimmune disease, was the culprit.
Living with scleroderma for 24 years has not been easy. But, I have to say that I am more than thankful to live for the many blessings I have had during this time. Most definitely, my son, Matthew, who came into this world to help me get back up on my feet with his unconditional love and kindness.
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that manifests differently in each person. The first 10 years for me were not terrible. It wasn’t until the birth of my son, that Scleroderma decided to speed up the progression of its course. 13 years have gone by and Scleroderma has led to other problems. It has been the underlying disease that has caused high blood pressure, pulmonary hypertension, interstitial lung disease, GERDS, raynaud’s disease and iron deficiency. These conditions have deprived me from living a normal life. Simply, stuff like walking for a period of time, enjoying a meal or snack, and dealing with temperature changes makes a difference in my life. I have learned to make adjustments to live the best life I can.
It's been almost 3 years since the day my body refused to continue to live in my hectic schedule. That pushed me to change my lifestyle. My immune system wasn’t responding as quickly as it should and my health was deteriorating. It forced me to retire from work and slow down. I have to say that although I really miss working, these last 4 years, have been the best time spent with Matthew. My small pockets of energy are spent wisely with him. I treasure those “good days” that don’t come as often as I'd like. I take one day at a time! If its a bad day, I rest and if it’s a good day, I enjoy it to the fullest.
I decided to start my “Slowly and Steady” blog to share my journey. I’d love to share how I have handled motherhood with this illness: what has worked and what hasn’t. I hope to meet and learn from other parents out there going through the same.