Northern Irish nurse forced to retire due to chronic condition

A former Northern Irish nurse tells us how she had to leave her much loved career due to the impact of a chronic condition.

Gillian Hodgen was diagnosed with a rare chronic condition known as Sarcoidosis in 2010, an immune system dysfunction that can effect any part of the body and can prove very difficult to diagnose as symptoms are not always supported by test results.

Speaking to Belfast Live, Gillian said that after many appointments with her Doctor and absence from work, she had various diagnoses of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & Fibromyalgia.

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After changes in her eyesight with flashing lights, blurred vision & colour differences, she was finally diagnosed with Sarcoidosis and with further testing, it was discovered she had swollen lymph nodes in her chest and many nodules within her lungs.

Her mobility was affected due to inflammatory changes in her muscles and joints and sadly her condition reached a point where she could no longer continue in her beloved career as a nurse.

Gillian said: "Sarcoidosis is a rare condition that not many people are aware of and it can impact people in very different ways. It has the potential to cause issues in every organ of the body.

"Since my diagnosis I have been on a range of different treatments trying to manage it, including 13 years of steroids, but sadly there is not much ongoing research into the condition due to its rarity. There are reports of as many as 13 people in every 10,000 in Northern Ireland, affected by this condition. Sarcoidosis is more common in adults aged 30-40 years. The exact cause is unknown and is thought to be a rare combination of genetic and environmental factors.’

"Sarcoidosis can be a hugely debilitating condition that affects everyone differently. My diagnosis of Sarcoidosis was detected through my change in vision & inflammation was found at the back of my eyes, it was seen in other parts of my body also. Sarcoidosis can sometimes harm vital organs & affect their function, this can lead to serious problems if not treated."

Gillian has been working recently with SarcoidosisUK for a campaign over the course of April, which is Sarcoidosis Awareness Month, where she has been encouraging different landmarks and buildings in Northern Ireland to be lit up blue.

The Titanic Museum and Belfast Castle are two buildings that have been part of the campaign so far and Gillian is hoping that others will join them as well.

She said: "We are hoping that we are able to spread awareness regarding Sarcoidosis and are very grateful to everyone who has supported the campaign so far.

"We are hoping that we can get as many buildings and landmarks as possible to be lit up blue and show those living with the condition that there are people out there thinking of them and wanting to do what we can to find better treatments."

If you would like more information regarding Sarcoidosis please follow this link.

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