Hi. My name is Miki. I was diagnosed with scleroderma around 1988. At the time, my symptoms were swollen fingers. I also had a positive ANA blood test. I was placed on d-penicillamine. Around 1991, I came down with a persistent cough. Both of my arms were swollen and the skin on my arms were very hard. I could not bend my right elbow so I had to learn to eat, comb my hair, wash my face, and put on make-up with my left hand. Forget about wearing pierced earrings! I also had problems with buttons and zippers on clothes. Thank goodness for elasticized slacks and pull-over tops! I visited the doctor with my persistent cough, he listened to my lungs, and he said, "Your lungs are clear" and sent me home. I visited the doctor again with the persistent cough. This time he took a chest x-ray and could see scar tissue in my lungs (pulmonary fibrosis). I was placed on prednisone and discontinued the d-penicillamine. Within days, the persistent cough subsided and I noticed that I could once again bend my right elbow. The swelling and hardness in my arms also subsided. That year I also developed gangrene in the ring finger of my left hand. I had surgery that year on the finger tip. I have a picture of me taken that year to celebrate the 25 years I had worked for my company. You could definitely see my swollen face in the picture because of the prednisone I was taking. Since then, I have been weaned off the prednisone and am doing quite well. I take Prilosec for the acid reflux. The padding on the bottom of my feet have almost disappeared so I have to put extra padding in my shoes and wear flat-bottomed shoes. I am still working full time. I try to keep the stress level down and try to pace myself so I don't get over-tired. I am grateful to the support group for their friendship and support. We have had gastroenterologists, rheumatologists, and dental hygienists come to our meetings to give us information specifically for our problems. Our support group members inspire me to keep going with a positive attitude.


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Researchers at Princeton University used DNA microarrays to characterize gene expression patterns in skin biopsies from individuals with a diagnosis of systemic sclerosis with diffuse scleroderma.