Trauma and illness later in life: Someone posted... - PMRGCAuk

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Trauma and illness later in life


Someone posted this link over on the LupusUK forum and I thought you might be interested. It isn't the only contributing factor - if you think hard enough you could find enough trauma in anyone's life to make them ill but the reality is that not everyone does develop an autoimmune disorder.

I suppose I belong to the group where the traumas were the sort of thing you accepted as the luck of the draw and normal.

17 Replies

Thank you, yes I’m in the pick yourself up and keep going brigade.


DorsetLadyPMRGCAuk volunteer
in reply to ursi

Me too! ...but perhaps it's not been to our advantage!

in reply to DorsetLady

I'm pretty sure it isn't...

Very interesting and what I have always believed, thank you for passing this on.

My brother lives in London and every Weekend we FaceTime. I was telling him how Therapy has really been helping me cope with PMR. He then stared to explain to me how childhood trauma was linked to chronic illness. Our beloved father was a juvenile diabetic. At that time there was not a pump so my father’ blood sugar was never really stable. Quite often he would go into diabetic shock in the middle of the night. At a very young age we would have to help our mom hold him down to get sugar water down his throat. I remember thinking it was like a monster took over his body. Once he came out of it my father was so distraught that his very young children had to see him that way. There was one time he hit so hard I bruised. I can’t even imagine how this hurt him and what it did to us as children.

Thank you PMRPRO for sending this article at the “perfect “ time.

Well, one thing we know is that since we all got through our personal hells before PMR/GCA we'll get through this one, too.

If it happened to ordinary people, they're be in the gutter looking up a the curb. Not us.

We get better.

This is extremely interesting and rings many loud bells. Somehow it's just never spoken about - one of the many things that gets 'swept under the carpet'. During a long and eventful life, no-one, has ever asked about childhood trauma in any context. Ever. Too difficult? Too much shame attached? Guess it's usually complex, and maybe too much of a Pandora's box.

We do already know this, and I certainly agree it's about time the knowledge was recognised and acted upon. But what are the chances?

in reply to BonnyQuine

There is a new book coming out and a discussion about it over on LupusUK. In the continuing discussion some of us are realising what pants medical management we have had in the past - does that add to our problem do you think?

in reply to PMRpro

Am not really well enough informed to comment, here. But do observe that the standard of NHS provision seems to have deteriorated over the years. In current location for >20years, and the GP surgery, which used to be good, is no longer. Most consultations seem to be by phone, and I wonder how often that is satisfactory. It's difficult to get a GP appointment, these days, and there generally seems to be a pretty superficial approach.

In my own case, it was my husband who spotted the GCA and managed to initiate fairly prompt action. Left to the GPs it would have taken much longer. It was also my husband who later spotted my adverse reaction to metformin and initiated change there. That GP wasn't a very good listener, but I found it hard to understand his absolute lack of interest, at that point. I was in agony! - I think he thought I was exaggerating. OH could see. My husband also splutters about the fact that the GPs "don't examine the patient as they should, if at all". I presume it's because they never have time, but possibly means that they miss quite a lot.

The rheumatologist had evidently talked with the GP, who reminded me that 'he's your husband not your doctor.' (I had taken him with me to all the early appointments, and he didn't say much - mostly just listened - except when it came to the diabetes. I think the rheumy thought he was responsible for my refusing Methotrexate and Zolendronic Acid. But he wasn't! I'd read up and reached my own conclusions.). A situation maybe difficult to negotiate in this country (UK), but we lived in W Africa for 17 years, where we (me + kids) had no other doctor, and which led me to have confidence in him - we all survived in good shape. We argue all the time but, when it comes to the crunch, he is conscientious, and he does have my interests at heart. Which, I have the impression, not many other doctors really do.

On the other hand, if it wasn't for the NHS, I might not be here. When I was about 5, with an awful infection, I was rushed 50 miles to the big Children's Hospital in Aberdeen. I remember it quite clearly - especially the big blood transfusion bottle hanging over me. Was there for a while - maybe a couple of weeks - and it seems they saved my life. Swings n roundabouts?

in reply to PMRpro

That thread is fascinating... I wish I had a rheumi detective!

I related to the story of the young woman who discovered she had lupus, a disease she had had since she was a child.. My mother didn't exactly keep anything like that from me but I remember I was really sick once with high fever and a sore throat covered in white spots. My mother wouldn't take me to the doctor as her newest religion was Christian Science, that doesnt allow medical care (I think). I had to beg my grandmother to take me to a doctor, it turned out to be streptococcus. I had a friend growing up who wasn't treated for strep throat when she was a child, she had a severe heart condition as a sequelae. She was from a very poor Irish family with lots of kid's and a rich uncle in San Francisco, where I met her at school. She had passed her whole life in a hospital and didn't know how to read or write. She luckily was "adopted" by a rich uncle, immigrated to the US and was treated for her heart condition at Stanford University, which allowed her to live 'til 50.

Maybe there weren't any antibiotics available in Ireland in the 50s..

I also wonder if being sprayed regularly with DDT as a child had any effect on my health. As a child, I lived in US occupied Japan. I remember some soldiers would come to the school periodically and one by one they would spray us with a white powder like substance. I remember very little about my childhood and none are happy memories.

in reply to Gaijin

Antibiotics were still unusual and expensive anywhere in the 50s - all was private medicine so you paid and if you couldn't pay - you couldn't have. Plus the development of antibiotics had only started in the 1940s, retained then by the Allies (or the Axis powers) for use in the war so the offer was limited to just a few and if they didn't deal with the particular bacterial infection you had, tough.

Being sprayed with DDT as a child MUST have some long term effects - an increased risk of certain cancers if nothing else I would have thought.

in reply to PMRpro

I immigrated to the US in 1959 from a privileged community in occupied Japan, so I didn't suffer shortages or any other post war hardships, other than being a Gaijin hafu (foreign half breed)😂

I m sure my mother, a single parent , had enough means and access to all that modern medicine had to offer, she was just always swimming against the current. She was ahead of her times, and knew a lot about nutrition but I felt like her Guinea pig and rejected all her radical ideas that now as a senior adult, I've come to put in practice.. Lol.. I've been very careful to not embarras my kids by being as main street as I could in a foreign country, I let them eat what most kids eat and of course vaccinated them and gave them whatever the pediatrician ordered... No traumas and just to be on the safe side!

Very interesting article and thank you for sharing. And perhaps too, as others have referenced, it’s not the trauma alone but the tendency we have to “not process” or fully acknowledge loss and tragedy but rather to be silent and strong, keep a stiff upper lip and carry on.

I myself had a blessed childhood...can’t remember any major trauma. (Well...excepting that when I was 5 years old a teacher taped my mouth shut and that was trauma enough such that I didn’t talk at school for a year and my Mom had to change schools before I would talk again😬.)However the decade prior to the onset of my PMR was full of stress, loss and trauma.

As the single Mom to an adopted teen from an Eastern European orphanage, I can personally attest to the extreme effects of early abuse, abandonment and addiction on a child’s developing human brain and body. If there is one thing any society can do to improve to take care of ALL its young. I am especially grateful to the volunteers who go in to hospitals and hold or rock babies who are in the neonatal intensive care units...such a small thing but they are allowing those babies brains to develop such that those children have a better shot at a normal life.


Sitting here, reading the comments and thinking about my early life and "I wouldn't know where to begin." Guess we are lucky we've got the ailment we've got. As Good-Grief says, "We get better".

Thanks for this article. One to contemplate! It worries me so about children in the world today... with the news blaring at them from TVs from infancy. The must also be.childhood trauma one is only aware of subconsciously. I have been completely, as an adult, and as a child, the one to say, no, it's FINE. everything is FINE. Perhaps it contributed to the PMR.. but in the great scheme of things. Everything in my life, compared to others, IS fine!

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