Before my dragon was given a shape in fall 2011, it was something that seemed to be a temporary fix stuck with me.
 
While sitting on the exam table, my feet dangled in anticipation. My dragon leaned down and whispered in my ear while resting its claws on my shoulder sending chills down my spine and pain through my body. All while rolls of defeat simultaneously poured from my eyes.
 
The doctor walks in and peels open the manila folder that is thickly lined with countless test results and exams, “It appears you have chronic Sialadenitis, and while there is no cure---” He said many more sentences, but I ultimately stopped listening… I stopped caring.
 
Teary eyed with frustration I asked, “The rest of my life?” His gaze broke mine as he shifted in on his stool and looked at my mom. “I’d like to go now.” Gathering myself I walked out.
 
No, I wasn’t sure what it meant entirely. All I knew was this was wearing on my body, it finally had a name and I didn’t want to endure this for the rest of my life. And I was sure this wasn’t how I wanted to start my senior year of high school.
Radiopaedia.org is an online resource dealing directly with radiology cases and defines Sialadenitis as, an inflammation of the salivary glands. It may be acute or chronic and has a broad range of causes. What makes it chronic is that it has lasted longer than six months, and since it’s going on eight years.
 
Some of the symptoms include swelling of the submandibular glands, located under the tongue, body aches, headaches, fever, chills, fatigue and it fails to end there.
 
There are a couple of causes, with one being a bacterial infection. This can stem from the infamous sickness called mononucleosis, shortly called mono, or given the nickname the “kissing disease.” Another cause, which happens to relate directly to me, is an autoimmune disorder. This simply means my body sometimes confuses the good tissue with the bad, but I can take vitamins and stay extra clean and healthy to reduce the flare ups.
 
Ironically, Sialadenitis relatively occurs in those 65 and older… I was 14 when this started happening. At 22, I am stronger and I am ready. I am willing and able to slay any and every dragon I need to live the way I want.
 
Read about Ashleigh's journey on her blog "Slaying Dragons" every Tuesday on tigersroar.com

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