Carrie Ann Inaba talks openly about her struggle with chronic autoimmune disease.
Perhaps best known as the positive and encouraging judge on ABC’s Emmy Award-winning television show Dancing with the Stars, Carrie Ann Inaba is also a choreographer, writer, producer, animal advocate and Emmy-nominee. Behind the scenes, however, Carrie Ann also courageously manages a number of autoimmune conditions and other medical challenges. She recently spoke with Brentwood Communications to share her story and encourage others.
When did you first realize you were having health issues?
It was quite a process to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and special blood tests were needed to officially diagnose my conditions. Autoimmune diseases can be so confusing, and the symptoms can mimic so many other things that it takes a while to be diagnosed. In 2013, I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. It’s a complicated autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s moisture-producing glands. At the same time, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and discovered I had the markers for antiphospholipid syndrome, another autoimmune disorder that can lead to blood clots.
What other medical conditions are you living with today?
I have lupus, which attacks the body’s organs and causes fatigue, sun sensitivity, joint pain and swelling. My most recent diagnosis is fibromyalgia. It’s a neurological disorder that causes pain throughout the entire body, along with fatigue and sometimes brain fog.
How have these health challenges impacted your life and your dancing?
Autoimmune diseases affect everyone differently and abide by no one’s schedule. What I’ve learned is to have compassion for myself, which extends, of course, to others. I’ve learned to accept what is and be kind to myself on those days I need to go slower. This is so different from the work ethic I learned as a dancer, which was to push, push, push through the pain. I’m learning how to take better care of myself. After all, if I’m not working at my best, I can’t do any good for anyone else.
“Flare-ups” are a classic condition of autoimmune disorders. What changes have you made to prevent or reduce their frequency?
Because of my lupus, I’m very careful about going into the sun, and I always wear proper sunscreen. I also have a whole new wardrobe of SPF (Sun Protection Factor) clothing and hats. I’m working on eliminating foods that don’t work for me, staying away from oil, dairy, gluten and eggs. Keeping a food diary has really helped me, too. I have also been going to physical therapy and receiving gentle traction on my neck to help relieve the pressure on the nerves. Yoga and meditation are important and helpful. I’ve also improved my skills in the kitchen so I can prepare meals that support my wellness.
I used to have flare-ups once every few months, usually after over-exerting myself. Then, in 2020, my pain levels kept rising, and I couldn’t bring them back down. We tried a lot of different approaches, but nothing really worked. We finally figured out that my fibromyalgia could be the main culprit. We adjusted my medications and that really made a difference.
What advice would give people who have an autoimmune disease?
Number one is to stay calm and know that it doesn’t have to be a scary life sentence. On my online magazine, Carrie Ann Conversations, I share a lot of tips for living with autoimmune diseases. My overall advice is to find what works for you and don’t give up until you do. Never give up, trust yourself, and know that you know best. Ask a lot of questions, and keep asking questions. Remember that you are in charge of your own life, and you get to choose what works best for you.
Any final thoughts?
Every change in the world, I believe, occurs and starts with one’s self. The more we create harmony within ourselves, the more we take care of ourselves, the more we can create harmony in the world around us. So lead with love, not only for yourself, but for everyone around you.
Informative content about autoimmune disease provides a perfect opportunity for hospitals, clinics and healthcare providers to raise awareness about a wide range of women’s health services available. Primary care providers, OB/GYN and rheumatologists are appropriate medical specialists to promote this awareness. Like Carrie Ann, women in your community can benefit by being directed to primary care providers and specialists. Effective marketing tools might include social media, digital media and print, in tandem with a strong call to action for viewers to learn more about autoimmune disease or to schedule an appointment.
About Brentwood Communications, Inc.
Brentwood Communications specializes in healthcare marketing. Through our monthly AdBank subscription service, thousands of field-tested marketing materials — including content related to breast cancer, mammography and women’s health — are available and can be easily customized to reflect your hospital or clinic’s existing brand.
Brentwood Communications also helps hospitals stay in touch with their communities through an informative and cost-effective digital and printed magazine called My Hometown Health, a powerful tool to help promote better health and raise awareness of key services available at the hospital. Emmy-nominated talk show host, choreographer and Dancing with the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba is featured in the current Fall 2021 magazine. Carrie Ann talks openly about her struggle with chronic autoimmune disease.