Collective Book Haul (December – March)

Hey pals,

I’ve been on a partial book buying ban since 2020 ended, mainly because I don’t have much money and I have many books! But I’ve been keeping an eye out on second hand selling sites (mainly on facebook) for books in series I want to read or have started and liked enough I would like to own and continue (as I talk through these in my Book Series I want to Finish in 2021 video! If you want to buy any of the books series I’m reading, check out this list) so those were my main second hand purchases! I also had £40 worth of gift cards I can’t really use online (they are annoying with how they work…) and I don’t need anything I can buy with them or the shops are closed because of Lockdowns. So when I pop into town occasionally, I check out the only shop open right now that also has books and takes these gift cards!

If you would like to buy any of these books listed! I have linked where you can buy them on the bookshop, if you use my affiliate link you will support me and indie bookshops!

I never really know HOW to book haul, but this is the best I got and how I’ve been doing it for a while. Mainly, mention the book and sometimes link it, talk about why I want to read it and some of them I include the synopsis in case anyone doesn’t know what I’m talking about. The four new books I bought with gift cards from Christmas. I still have some money left on them but they are very annoying to use and I have to keep track of what is left on the cards.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy: I watched the film and really enjoyed it. If you’re new here, I love reading books after I’ve seen the film or show adaptation. A lot of the books on this list fit that brief, honestly! But as part of my Books I Want To Read More Of in 2021, I wanted to read more fat-positive books and this is where I’ll probably be starting. “In a small Texas town, a confident fat girl confronts new challenges to her self-esteem. At age 16, Willowdean—her mother calls her Dumplin’—has a good sense of herself. She’s uninterested in Mom’s raison d’être, the Clover City Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant, which annually takes over the town and Will’s own house.”

PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han: I read the first book of this series in September 2019 when I was starting to get back into reading again after my Creative Writing Degree put me in a chronic slump. Another I read after watching the adaptation, there were quite a few differences between the book and film and I’ve seen the second film which makes me curious what the next book is like and this is a series I wanted to try and continue this year. It also comes under books I want to read more of in 2021.

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed: “Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots.

Want to chill out and vibe? Come watch Dawson’s Creek with me!

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black: I don’t really know what this book is about I bought it because my friend liked it a lot and the Prince mentioned is called Cardan which is close to Carden. That’s all. “The Cruel Prince follows Jude, a human girl living among faeries. She wants to fit in, but her stubbornness and determination cause her to stand out among the royal family, where she aspires to become a knight.”

The second hand books I’ve picked up highly discounted since December. This is one of the best ways of recycling your books, either offering them for sale or free on social media (facebook marketplace always has loads of book posts) maybe take them to a charity shop or thrift store that sells books, last resort are donation bins. Or some people use old books for art (like me, check out my ko-fi shop!)

You by Caroline Kepnes: Another series I’ve watched! I think I liked series 2 a bit more but I liked it enough to give reading it a go! “The novel presents a cast of emotionally disturbed people whose interactions with each other can be both hilarious and tragic. Joe is obsessed with Beck when she first walks into his bookstore. He uses her name to research her online and find where she lives.” I really enjoy watching thrillers and crime, I am trying to get into reading it!

For more book series I’m planning on reading, you can buy them here.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins: Sadly a couple of them aren’t in the best condition but that’s okay. I’d seen the films in the past but not many times, I decided last year I would finally read the books and give them a shot and honestly I was so shocked at how much I enjoyed the books I decided I definitely wanted to own physical copies and these were such a bargain I couldn’t pass it up.

The Divergent books by Veronica Roth: (1-3) “The novel Divergent features a post-apocalyptic version of Chicago and follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior as she explores her identity within a society that defines its citizens by their social and personality-related affiliation with five factions, which removes the threat of anyone exercising independent will and re-threatening the population’s safety. Underlying the action and dystopian focused main plot is a romantic subplot between Tris and one of her instructors in the Dauntless faction, nicknamed Four.” I read the first book last year too, similar circumstances as The Hunger Games, but I would like to give it another read through the lens of disability and neuro-divergence (hm…) because I feel like this might be one of those books showing a bit of a scary reality of the politics we already live and the experiences of disabled/neuro-divergent people.

Please check out my ko-fi and consider supporting me with a tip or buying my art!

Recently I have been reading a lot of NetGalley ARCs, check out the reading vlog here, so I’ve been doing a lot of reading for free and experimenting with some new genres. I plan to do a wrap up blog post of all the ARCs I read recently with general opinions. Let me know if this is something you would be interested in reading about (I will include release dates as well for all the books I discuss, some will have come out already some not) I also have another book tour coming up! I was on the Act Your Age Eve Brown book tour this month, and will be on another exciting book tour in May on my Instagram! Check out my Queer Lit Reads Recommendations!

Books have made me feel like I have an escape during COVID and that has been so important to me. How do books make you feel? What books should I read first from this list!? Leave a comment down below!

~ Artie

They/Them

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I Haven’t Really Been Around Much

Hi pals,

My content uploads have been a bit all over the place recently and I wanted to give you an update of why that is and what has been going on. At the start of February, I had my regular income taken away from me, my benefits were stopped. This wasn’t a lot of money but it afforded me to see my chiropractor and my therapist (two very important parts of my care that cannot be provided for free on the NHS) as well as pay my phone bill and my car tax. I’ve been more active with setting up my Ko-Fi art shop and posting on there to keep people updated with what I’m doing (projects wise etc.) and I’ve set up a fundraiser as I really feel like I need to get a diagnosis/assessment for Autism and ADHD. The last year I’ve been seeing more and more traits that link to these two conditions (I talk about it a bit in my recent video where I read Act Your Age Eve Brown about two autistic people falling in love) and I have chosen to go privately. I’ve decided upon this because the assessor was recommended to me by my therapist, I trust her a lot and have spoken to her at length about my thoughts and feelings re: ADHD and Autism, plus the waitlist on the NHS is very long, and having just been through quite a triggering situation with my benefits, I am terrified to open up about my experiences and struggles again to a stranger in case I am told I am making it up or I’m not really ‘that bad’. So I would rather go to someone my therapist knows and recommends, and has experience referring previous clients to and had positive feedback from. Not that I really need to explain this to you, but I like to keep things reasonably transparent as part of my thing is showing you what it’s like to live with disabilities and chronic illnesses.

So since my benefits were stopped, I started to quite aggressively go through cupboards and such in my house, looking for things to sell on vinted, facebook marketplace, depop, twitter, wherever really. I kept a lot of this info on my ko-fi. With a mixture of really generous donations and having sold some larger scale items, I think I may have just about covered the money I had lost(for one month at least). I still have a lot of items up for sale and to sell (please check out my selling platforms, a lot of stuff is up very cheap) and even started selling my art.

A bit before all this started, I’d sold three blackout poetry pieces out of nowhere! I had them up very cheap, just curious to see if anyone would be interested, and they were up for quite a long time before someone was interested but with that one tiny success came a lot of support on twitter and I sold two more pieces that way. I started finishing and listing art on my ko-fi (once i realised you could actually use it as a store, and you get 100% of the money which no other site provides! so it means I’m able to keep my art sale costs low) I finished an old painting of a hand in like a galaxy/magic glitter style which my friend bought. I listed the remaining blackout poetry pieces, and another friend bought a piece. I then started dabbling with a new concept I’d been thinking about for a while: my great grandparents went travelling a lot in their lives and took hundreds of pictures. Last summer, my mother and I went through all these photos ad picked out the ones to keep (of them or of my mum etc.) and I kept a hold of the rest that were mainly scenery. They went to places like Switzerland, France, Italy in the 80s and 90s. The film photos have this beautiful vintage quality to them where some of them look like scenes from independent films. So I started turning them into poetry art pieces and listing them on my Ko-fi as well, another friend bought one. Part of what made me start creating art was the desperate need of finding an income. I have all these supplies at home to create art with that are taking up space and gathering dust, it felt like the right time to start using them and experimenting with what works and what people like to buy. The only cost, really, is my time and labour. I also have a lot of old pieces that are finished or just need some final touches on them. Why not try to find these a new home where they will be loved and appreciated?

Then we also had Rare Diseases day, where I wrote such an extensive essay on here that honestly barely covers the surface of what living with Takayasu’s is like. I had planned to write up a blog draft but ended up hyper-focused on it for two solid hours, wrote 3500 words and found 6 references at the time. I later went and added further website links and other useful references including youtube videos. This had so much support from the TAK community, I think it reached 500 views in a week which has never happened before and now I have a handy guide to reference in videos and blog posts and when talking to people for, not only a basic 101 of TAK, but also my personal experiences mixed in there too. This is another example of when I’ve had to open up about my pain and been ignored by professionals, so I have a long history of being gaslit by medical professionals and I’m not the only one who has been through this either.

I’m making and posting a video soon on my experiences on steroids, again as a reference for what I’ve been through but also a helpful little selection of anecdotes for people new to this medication, but I have been on then since June 2020. We have been slowly trying to taper down the dose from 15mg. I’m currently at 9mg. At the beginning of March, I dropped to 8mg. The first two nights I had mild night sweats and by the evening of day three I was experiencing such awful chest pain I was concerned I needed to go to A&E. My body was not okay, it was really not ready to drop the dose. I ended up taking a couple of 1mg steroid pills that night as my other painkillers weren’t touching the pain, and going back up to 9mg the next day. I felt better, my chest was tender but not IN PAIN like it had been the night before. I felt miles better after my Adalimumab injection on the friday, and that evening (March 5th) I also got my first COVID vaccine! I had no side effects, the injection itself was basically painless. I had a couple of energy crashed the next day but that was more down to what I was doing.

Check out this post on my opinions on taking medication.

I also had a few articles to edit, a book to read and video to make on it for a book tour, I was also working on my NetGalley reviewer rating, and feeling dysphoria, I’ve just been dealing with so much all in one moment that it has been hard to get or stay on top of everything. I mean I made a silly video Watch Dawson’s Creek With Me! because I was just so tired and burnt out I just wanted to watch a show I like and talk about it. My chronic illness related videos always do reasonably well, like this one on Hair Loss and Tips, but I was going through so much medical related trauma and triggers it just wasn’t on the cards to talk about it all. I was and still am exhausted. I couldn’t face putting on make-up for videos or photos. It helps me feel put together and ready to make something, but I couldn’t put myself into that mode. Especially when three weeks were dedicated to analysing the report on my health and writing an argument letter three pages long to convince someone that I have been wrongly judged and had a lot of assumptions made about me. All by another disabled person, which always stings more.

My only spaces of solace have been my one zoom yoga class a week (which is so severely discounted thanks to the lovely teacher I can still access it) and my zoom meetings. That includes my therapy twice a month, my weekly Sick Sad Girl meetings where a bunch of us gather on zoom to talk about a topic in relation to our lives and chronic conditions and just feel heard, zoom interviews for people’s Master’s or BA research (it’s actually very funny and validating talking to a stranger who is interested in you and your experiences of things, it’s nice to get some of these things off your chest) and occasionally facetime/zoom calls with friends or movie nights on Prime. I’ve been focusing on trying to actually connect with people in my life and face-to-face because I’ve been locked up for a year. Outside of my family I’ve only seen one friend in person (and it has always been distanced) and a couple of friends on facetime or zoom. I’ve barely left my house and even without everything I’ve been through since 2021 started, I would have found lockdown 3 really difficult anyway. I’m really lonely. It’s why I sunk into reading books and read 12 in January and 10 in February. I can’t sleep without constant noise, I can only shut my brain up by watching Among Us let’s plays because I’ll be focused on the tactics and figuring out who the imposters are, I can finally relax and fall asleep. This has been my nightly routine for months. I’ve watched all the videos from people I enjoy, multiple times, I’ve run out of videos. I specifically like Julien Solomita’s Among Us streams so I tend to just re-watch those endlessly.

A lot of my friend’s are going through it too, I won’t get into details obviously, but so many people are hurting right now. People I know, people I don’t know… it’s hard to ignore and focus on caring for myself. I take breaks when I need to. I’ve barely streamed (by barely I mean I literally haven’t once) because I’m tired and can’t do all these things I need to do whilst also trying to take care of myself. I would love to do some art streams where I sit and make art but it’s just not mentally plausible right now.

The day I wrote this up, I filmed two chronic illness related videos. I also have vlog type reading videos coming as well I just need to sit down and get to editing them. I think my post on here next week will be a collective book haul from end of December to roughly now as I’ve been picking up cheap secondhand books and new books with Christmas gift cards, and it is a simple and easy blog post to make. This is partially why I make a lot of book content, it’s easier on the emotions but also one of the only things I’ve been doing recently.

Please check out my Ko-fi and consider supporting me as I make a lot of free content for entertainment and education. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with what I’m doing. Subscribe to my YouTube for video content. Follow my Twitch for updates on when I start streaming again. Like my Facebook page if that’s the social you use the most! Hopefully I’ll see you next week.

~ Artie

they/them

Takayasu’s Arteritis: Rare diseases Day 2021

Hey pals,

I wasn’t diagnosed last Rare Diseases Day, so I really wanted to grasp the chance to talk about my Takayasu’s Arteritis with you on my blog. I’ve mentioned bits and pieces here and there like on Instagram or my Youtube Channel, but here I’m going to go into what Takayasu’s is and what that means for my daily life. I also have a selection of other Diagnoses which affect my treatment and flares, so I may talk about that a bit as well.

Check out my profile and affiliate on the BookShop when shopping for books to support me and indie bookstores.

I don’t want to go through my story again of how I was diagnosed as it was pretty intense, I did film a video explaining it all before I was officially diagnosed that you can watch, My Doctor Didn’t Believe Me. I will also be making a video specifically about the scans I had to diagnose Takayasu’s if you are interested, subscribe to my channel.

Now, onto Takayasu’s Arteritis. Pronounced Tah-Kah-Yah-Sooz Arh-Tuh-RIE-tis. Not Arthritis, Arteritis. A rare type of vasculitis that causes blood vessel inflammation in the large vessels (mainly arteries but occasionally medium sized ones as well) it most commonly damages the aorta and is often seen in the aortic arch and the main branches off it. The aorta is the large artery that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body. It is also known as Pulseless Disease or Aortic Arch Syndrome as well as these are the main signs and symptoms of TAK. Easier to say as well, I guess for some people.

Takayasu’s can lead to narrowed or blocked arteries, of which I have two narrowed arteries that lead to each arm, but it can also lead to weakened artery walls that can bulge and tear which is called an aneurysm. Before I was diagnosed, I thought an aneurysm was something totally different, I thought it was like a blood clot/stroke. Takayasu’s can lead to pain in the limbs but most commonly arms, chest pain, high blood pressure, and even heart failure or stroke. Since joining some online communities for people with Takayasu’s, I’ve found that many people were not diagnosed until after a stroke or needing life saving heart surgery, if you watch my video linked above about my story you’ll see that in many ways, I got lucky and was diagnosed before something like this could happen, but not before permanent damage was already done.

Many, if not most, of us need medications to control the inflammation caused by our immune system attacking our body tissue, to prevent complications or further damage being caused.

There are two stages to Takayasu’s. Stage one can be impossible to identify, and as I was already dealing with other health issues for the years leading up to my Takayasu’s diagnosis, I don’t think I would have been able to find it earlier if I tried. Many people, but not all, will feel unwell with fatigue, muscle and joint aches and pains, mild fever which sometimes involves night sweats, and unintended weight loss. I have hypermobility syndrome and have dealt with muscle and joint aches and pains for years and years as well as fatigue. I never had a fever, I never lost any weight, but I did have night sweats on occasion. These are also symptoms of Crohn’s disease, which I was diagnosed with a year before Takayasu’s.

We were only able to eventually figure out my diagnoses because I had entered Stage 2. This is the stage that inflammation causes arteries to narrow, so less blood and oxygen and fewer nutrients reach organs and muscle tissue. Commonly signs are: weakness or pain in limbs with use, lightheadedness/dizziness/fainting, headaches or visual changes, memory problems of trouble thinking, chest pain or shortness of breath, high blood pressure, diarrhea or blood in stool, anaemia. I’ve had chronic headaches for years, the diarrhea and blood in my stool was crossed off by IBS/Crohn’s, I’ve also always had a dizziness about me often contributed to my hypermobility syndrome, my BP has never been that high and used to be relatively low… the only symptom I could go off was that my right arm hurt when I used it for anything, this is known as claudication. Washing myself, brushing my teeth, holding something, patting my dog… repetitive movement set my muscles on fire but it was often put down to hypermobility syndrome (as talked about in my video) or pinched nerves, but I had so many MRI’s, one of my entire spine, and not a single pinched nerve. I also had a nerve conduction test which came back perfect. Besides this, the only other thing I had noticed is that any time someone tried to take my blood pressure from the arm that hurt (my right arm) the machines never worked. I always had to tell them to use my left. Before my abscess draining surgery in November 2019, I’d just been having a panic attack over the cannula they were struggling to find a vein for, was sedated and was mildly aware of how much the cuff hurt my right arm and that I’d lost all feeling because it was squeezing so hard and it was lucky I managed to get out something like, “no you need to put it on the other arm, it won’t work,” before passing out. I woke up with bruises all over my right arm but they must have swapped over after I knocked out. This is what made my GP stop and think, and found I was almost entirely lacking a pulse. (This isn’t mentioned on all online resources, but it is on the Vasculitis Foundation’s page under symptoms and diagnosis.) Thanks to him, I made it to the right people and got diagnosed.

For some statistics, Takayasu’s (Also known and called TAK) is often diagnosed in AFAB people (9 out of 10 patients to be specific) but I have also come across some AMAB people too, between the ages of 15 and 40. It has affected people outside this age bracket too, but this seems to be the most common time frame. It is also more commonly diagnosed in Asian people and one study also specifically says in Latin American people. I have seen a few different estimations on how common this disease is but the Vasculitis Foundation and Rheumatology.org state 1 in 200,000 people. This leaflet says a UK study showed TAK affects 1 person per million per year, this is likely UK statistics. It also says 2 out of 10 people with TAK ‘get better’ after one episode and do not require long term treatment. It is currently understood to be an autoimmune disorder which occurs when the body’s natural defense system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissue. It is not thought to be genetically inherited but there is something thought to be within genetics and DNA that makes TAK more likely. TAK was first described by Dr Mikito Takayasu in 1908 (which I found out as I wrote this! More info on this under ‘History of Takayasu’s Arteritis’ here) For people who find videos more helpful for learning information, check out this Webinar by the Vasculitis Foundation on Takayasu’s.

Check out my post for IBD and Nutrition tips.

Diagnosing TAK is difficult as it shows differently in each patient. Vasculitis.org.uk has some really useful info about each scan with images so I recommend checking that out. Not everyone will have raised inflammation in their blood tests (ESR or CRP), or show active inflammation on a PETCT scan. The most accurate diagnosis is a biopsy but it is very risky to do on such large vessels as the aorta and is not usually done unless the patient is undergoing vascular surgery. In my regular physical exams, my pulse is manually checked and listened to all over my body. I’ll have you know, my left foot has a great pulse! But, next to none in my right arm. This is where the other name comes from, the “pulseless disease”, because the blood pressure and heart rate are different across limbs depending on how much damage the arteries leading to them have sustained. 90% of patients with experience one or more arteries narrowing and rendering their limb pulseless, or nearly. They also listen for sounds called ‘bruits’ which can be heard over large arteries with a stethoscope, as far as I know, I do not have bruits. You often need multiple kinds of imaging scans done for diagnosis and to find the extent of the damage done so far. An ultrasound can find narrowing in limbs and neck, MRI/As with contrast can find narrowing in the aorta within the body, PETCT is for active inflammation but doesn’t really tell you much else and needs radioactive sugar water to work which isn’t great for your body and health. There are a few other scans, but I’m not entirely sure what they are or how they work as I’ve not had them done but there are more details in the Vasculitis Foundation site under Diagnosis. Also the Wiki page on this can be helpful for people totally new to health care as it links many key terms to help with making understanding the basics of testing and body parts included easier.

When it comes to treatment, there are a few options, but the general goal is to decrease inflammation (often by suppressing the immune system) so the disease slows or stops progressing. Many people have to take steroids and find it difficult to fully come off them as their inflammation rises and their symptoms return. I am on month 9 of steroids and I am slowly tapering down. Steroids are not a fun drug to be on, I’m also planning to make a video talking about my experiences on them as this is the third time I’ve had to take them and the longest. Previous times, I’ve been on them for 1-3 months at a higher dose. Another medication family often used is Immunosuppressants. They suppress the immune system, like steroids, but have less side effects and are preferred over steroids if possible. This includes Methotrexate (often used for Arthritis, my Gran is on this as an injection) Azathioprine/Mercaptopurine (I’m on Mercaptopurine), and Mycophenolate Mofetil. I believe all of these are also known as Chemo drugs. The third family of drugs are Biologics, which I am also on and are also to suppress the immune system! Apparently, “those with severe disease who don’t respond to traditional treatments may be prescribed biologics”, but in my case, I’m relatively complex with multiple autoimmune disorders I think I had less choice. Biologics are complex proteins that target certain parts of the immune system to control inflammation. Commonly used are Tocilizumab (which I was almost put on, but apparently is very rarely use for Crohn’s patients due to complications) and Infliximab which is commonly used for Crohn’s patients as well. But I was put on Adalimumab (find out more here in this video about this drug and my personal experience) for Crohn’s before I was diagnosed (literally two months before I was diagnosed) so we decided to just keep it up and see how I went and in September we upped my dose to weekly instead of every two weeks, and then changed the brand from Imraldi to Amgevita as my Rheumatologist had been doing some reading of research for TAK and Adalimumab. In April, it will be my 1 year on Adalimumab and I’ll be making and posting an update video to my channel. Some people also need drugs to lower Blood Pressure/Blood Thinners to help reduce the risks of blood clots. The other option is surgery, which is reasonably risky. If you have surgery with active inflammation, it is likely to not work permanently and possibly occult (block) again, but many people have to have surgery because it is life or limb threatening. I’ve been told that if I start to permanently lose feeling in my right arm and it starts to look very weird (yellowy translucent because there’s no circulation) I need to contact the Vascular surgeons for emergency surgery to save my arm. It can also be to repair aneurysms. There are also Revascularisation surgeries where a blocked artery is bypassed, usually with a vein graft from somewhere else in the body, usually a leg. I follow someone on Instagram who had this surgery, Susana Ramírez from Spain. There are also Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty (PTA) that aim to open narrowed arteries by inserting an inflating balloon to stretch the narrowed section, which I think Susana has also had. The Vasculitis.org.uk site has a lot of really detailed information on that the other sites I have used lack so I highly recommend looking at this site if you want to do further, detailed reading. The Rare Diseases site has some information on clinical trials as well, for meds and TAK.

Due to the nature of these kinds of medications, there are things you have to be careful of and keep an eye on. Lowering the immune system can make you more prone to contracting colds and flus which is why I’ve had to be extra careful during the pandemic as I am more likely to catch it but also have complications that threaten my life. There is potential for bone loss (especially with steroids) which is why I’ve spoken to an NHS dietician and now take a high dose calcium vitamin as well as vitamin D (helps the body to absorb the calcium). You need regular check ups with your doctors to keep an eye on these things. You can also become anaemic, which I was briefly the year before I was diagnosed with TAK for 4 months I was on a prescribed high dose of iron tablets and continue to take store bought. We are also recommended to get the flu jab, pneumonia vaccination, and/or shingles vac, as this helps reduce the risks. We cannot take LIVE vaccines so if we want to travel somewhere that often needs a LIVE vaccine before you go, you have to have a chat with your doctors about this. I’ve not had the chance yet as I was diagnosed early in the Pandemic.

The main team for people with TAK are Rheumatologists (joints, muscles, immune system) they are in charge of your meds, a Cardiologist (heart doctor) I don’t yet have one of these, and a Vascular surgeon (veins and arteries) who I do have and have met a couple of times, this was the man who sent me for the ultrasound that found the narrowing and really started the diagnosis process. My vascular surgeon discharged me but said that I can contact his secretary if there are any urgent worries that may need surgery. I also have my Rheumatologist’s secretary’s email to send her direct emails about new symptoms incase they are linked to my TAK or my other conditions that are also managed by Rheumatologists (hypermobility syndrome and fibromyalgia). I also send her research studies that have been shared in the TAK Facebook groups I am in, as she seems to be taking an active role in researching and understanding this disease more. I found one that states Crohn’s and TAK are very similar in genetic (???) shape/appearance, sorry can’t remember the right terminology. There is a Crohn’s vaccine (called MAP vaccines) in the works that is nearly ready for the public and this could mean one for TAK could be developed if they really are as similar as it is currently thought. The vaccine isn’t a cure but it is thought to be a way of making more severe symptoms and damage, minimised and be less damaging, which is always good.

One of the less discussed symptoms is Carotidynia, pain and tenderness over the carotid arteries (in your neck) which is found in 25% of patients. I have experienced this symptom on physical exertion since my mid-teens. It becomes so painful it is hard to breathe, I have to stop what I’m doing and grip my neck. It is recommended to refrain from extreme cardio like HIIT or circuit training, as it can aggravate these symptoms too much. Exercise is recommended to continue as it can help widen narrowed arteries, or encourage the development of capillarys (small veins which can help make up for narrowed arteries with blood flow) so they recommend regular weight training and gentle cardio.

It is thought that the majority of TAK patients will continue to have relapses and remissions throughout life, but it also appears that for the majority of patients it ‘burns out’ after a period of 2-5 years. There isn’t a lot of information on this, sadly, as I would love to know more. When I was diagnosed in June 2020, I had already been experiencing active disease for two years, and this will be year three. I hope I follow this trend of burning out at 5 years but I’m also aware (because of other conditions I have) this may not be a reality and will be a lifelong condition I will have to keep an eye on and take meds for. Up to 25% of patients with TAK are unable to work due to their condition. Hello, that’s me. Or, I can’t work a traditional job due to my chronic illnesses. The mortality rate is low for TAK, with early intervention, careful monitoring and treatment. In the US and UK there is 98% survival rate of ten years. Most discussion on survival rate tends to be between 5-10 years from diagnosis, I assume this is because it is so rare and caught at such varyingly different stages it can be hard to say past 10 years. Mortality linked directly to TAK is often a heart attack, heart failure, aneurysm rupture, stroke or kidney failure. Not everyone with TAK will find steroids helpful for their condition, and due to having been on two high dose short term courses in 2019 before my TAK diagnosis, I could give a definitive answer to my Rheumatology team that steroids definitely helped the pain in my arm, which is a good thing.

Having Crohn’s and TAK at the same time is good and bad. Good, as there are a few meds that are used for both diseases. Bad, because there are meds for each disease that don’t work for the other, or worse, cause harm. One biologic used in TAK can cause bleeding in the colon for Crohn’s. So I was lucky to be put on the meds I was put on. Adalimumab is less often used in TAK but it has been used and not caused further harm. We are seeing how things go. Aspirin is also commonly used in TAK but having Crohn’s means I can’t take this drug either as it is a NSAID which can aggravate Crohn’s and cause inflammation and bleeding. My Gastro consultant said to me that once you have one autoimmune disorder, you are more likely to develop others, so even though TAK is rare it isn’t entirely a surprise. Also, my Gran has a couple types of vasculitis (Polymyaldia Rheumatic, she may also have a Large Vessel Vasculitis like TAK called Giant Cell) which means my genetics could have been predisposed to developing something similar and it was just the way the shuffle of DNA landed. Funny enough, the Wiki page for TAK actually has quite a detailed section on the genetics with linked references.

erythema nodosum
ID: Artie’s legs, three angles from the knee down, showing many round dark bruises. Erythema Nodosum July 2019.

As you may be able to tell, this information is spread about across different sources. None of them are the exact same, and many of them miss things from their lists. My first searched before I knew I had TAK was on the NHS site under Vasculitis. This one mentioned painful, numb or cold limbs which was the first time the idea of limb temperature came up, it’s not really mentioned anywhere else and I’ve always had bad circulation to my hands and feet, they are often always cold and become so painful when it is winter and I have to go outside (walking to Uni in Feb-March was the worst, it was like walking on glass) and may have a link to Raynaud’s Phenomenon. This page also recommends the Vasculitis UK site for further info, so that’s where I went next. It is important to use references with good and trustworthy information for the beginning of your journey in understanding TAK for yourself or for a friend/family member. A page I came across as I was researching for this post is by Patient.info (the site my GP surgery uses for appointments and prescriptions so I know it is trusted) and this is the first reference to a certain pain I experience with over exertion of my arm, a ‘tenderness overlying the affected arteries’. If I push myself too hard when weight training, I feel pain over my brachial artery, which is the narrowed artery in my right arm, right above the inner elbow bend. It also mentions back pain due to Aortic involvement which I have never read before, and is more specific about the types of rashes linked to TAK. Other sources have mentioned rashes but never a specific name or description of it. This site specifies erythema multiforme and induratum. I had Erythema Nodosum in July 2019 which was thought to be my Crohn’s (as 1 in 7 people with Crohn’s develop this) but I’ve also read it can happen to people with Medium Sized Vasculitis. Muscle wasting is also not mentioned a lot, but common to happen if you stop using the affected limbs. Many people compensate for the pain by using the limb less affected, which leads to muscle wastage, another reason they do encourage continued exercise.

I know a lot of people wonder about the effects on pregnancy, I won’t lie, I do not plan to ever be pregnant and carry a child so I have not researched this myself. But there is this particular study you can check out for more information on it based in Britain. There are also a lot of posts on the Lauren Currie Twilight foundation site that include TAK, I have not read any of these yet but plan to. I share some of my emotions and feelings about my treatment and diagnosis across my socials but this post from end of August 2020 has some specifics of what I was dealing with at the time and this video where I look back on myself from a year earlier is very emotional but also very raw and depicts the emotional struggles people go through when living with chronic conditions.

Check out this post right before I was diagnosed with TAK.

There is also a debate about whether TAK and Giant Cell Arteritis are the same thing or not. Not enough research has been done, and the only difference seems to be TAK has the ability to make limbs pulseless but otherwise both do very similar things and Giant Cell seems to be more likely in older women, where TAK is often younger. Sometimes both are just called Large Vessel Vasculitis for this reason.

I hope this has been helpful in teaching you about what Takayasu’s is and what I go through with it. I would really appreciate if you donated to my Ko-Fi as I do create this content for free and this is my lived experience, I am unable to work but I love to create helpful and educational content when I have the energy and capacity. This piece is over 3,500 words with numerous references as well to make learning and further research as accessible and easy as possible. I want to help empower other people in similar positions as myself, it was hard for me to go through this only a year after my Crohn’s diagnosis, but I had definitely learned some lessons from Crohn’s and applied it to TAK. Follow my other socials for more personal anecdotes, research, and advice. I post on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. I also Stream on Twitch sometimes, feel free to follow and join in on live streams. Also consider sharing my piece to reach more people. Please check out my other pieces linked below as well.

~ Artie

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Books I Predict Will Be Mediocre

Hey pals,

I’ve talked about the books I’m excited to read on my TBR, I’ve talked about the books I find intimidating, so here are the books I don’t think I’m gonna care about that much. You might think, “hey why are you still planning on reading them if you don’t think you’ll be that bothered?” Well, just in case I actually end up really enjoying any of them. I liked some of them once already, so I’m hopeful they will at least be entertaining. My unread bookshelf is busting with books, and here are some of those books.

Check out my Bookshop lists when you’re looking to buy a book! It supports me and indie bookshops.

Moxie: Even though it seems like a book that would be my vibe, I feel like it might be somewhat ‘feminism 101’, which I think would be appropriate for the intended audience but maybe not something I would enjoy as much. When I read books, I do take into consideration who the audience is when reviewing or giving my opinions. So, even if I do decide it wasn’t for me, I will let you know if I think it is suitable for the audience and could provide good content for them.

Maze Runner: I’m actually so sure I won’t be that bothered by this series, that I sold off the two later books of the series. A booktuber I just started getting into put this in a really good way but I’m going to butcher it by trying to explain now, but when it comes to dystopian book series I really enjoy book 1 where all the world is being set up and enjoy the rest of the books less. I enjoyed the first film, but the second one was pretty tragic, though I think the book would be better I think it is pretty telling of what the plot will be like. So, I want to read book one, mainly to experience this writer and this series in a new way, but I don’t have much hope for the later books.

Potion Diaries: This is a book I’ve put off reading and moved about between my TBR shelves and my Unhaul pile. I like the sound of the plot and the character, but I know it is going to be very straight even though there is a perfect sapphic plotline right there.

Marilyn Monroe biog: I think both Biographies of Marilyn I own are written by men, so they might be mainstream factual but they probably won’t wholly encompass the emotion of living life as Marilyn as they are less able to put themselves in her position. I also tend to enjoy the Celebrity History when it’s discussed in more of an open “we don’t know what actually happened, but here are some theories and the evidence to back them up”.

Kurt Cobain biog: Whilst I will say, same as above, I also feel like Kurt’s regularity of wearing dresses will probably never be mentioned and never discussed further like why he chose to wear dresses and make-up: was it a possible gender exploration? or more of just general rebellion as he is the frontman of one of the biggest alternative/grunge bands the world knows? I dunno, and the book probably won’t think about it.

The Body Book Cameron Diaz: It’s probably gonna be boring, I won’t lie. It’s about food and macros and other nutrition shit. Which is something I want to continue developing my understanding of, but it’s not exactly fun reading. She might make it interesting, who knows but I doubt it.

Nausea: I picked this up, not having a clue who Sautre was. Now I’ve heard his name a few times and a vague idea of what his work is like. Probably pretentious and whiney. I want to give reading this book a go, but this is what I’m expecting.

Virginia Woolf book: Besides knowing she was a racist, I dunno if her work is going to be my vibe in general. I’m not a classics book reader really at all. I feel like she is considered a classic writer. Just gonna have to give it a go.

Jacqueline Wilson books: As I can confirm after reading Girls In Love, I feel like I’m going to be semi-underwhelmed by the other books I have by her. The only good thing she had going for her stories was that she often depicted a range of family dynamics and gave kids in the less mainstream family situation something to see themselves in. But, they are all still straight and white and cis and I don’t remember any disabled family members or main characters so… this is why I think I’ll be underwhelmed.

Kisses by an angel: A lot of the YA supernatural romances for women I’ve gone back to always leave a sour taste in my mouth, whether it’s because of very outdated views (which, yes, somehow still sneak into the plots of SUPERNATURAL books) or the main characters have way less charm than I remember. I’m not sure I liked this one much as it was back in 2010.

There were more on this list, but I didn’t really know what to say for them all. So, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see if I talk about any of them. I have decided I want to do semi regular reading Wrap up videos this year, just to keep more detailed up to date log of what I read in 2021 and then at the end of the year do more themed videos like my favourite books or the worst books, etc. Don’t forget to follow my channel for videos on books, I recently put out a video of Book Recs with Bi Main Characters, and also a Gender Discussion triggered by OHSHC during my Manga Reading challenge.

Please check out my Ko-fi and consider donating or sharing it out. I’ve been struggling with money since my benefits were stopped and I really want to save up to get a medical assessment done to finally get a diagnosis I’ve been thinking about for the better part of 2020. Also my Facebook for art you can buy from me. Or my Depop for secondhand items. Check out my Bookshop lists if you’re looking to buy a book as you will support me and indie bookshops when you buy that way! This list are books I am really excited to get to reading in case you want some help!

Leave a like and a comment, I’ll see you next week for Rare Diseases day!

~ Artie

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