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Brian D. Jessop: Scleroderma

I am not willing to give this life up, so I will press on.

Garden Gate Grasses by Sherrill Knaggs, ISN Artist Someone asked me for help on how to fight this scleroderma and I said yes.

I am a Vietnam Vet from 1968 to 1970. I am from the Agent Orange time on the Saigon River and the Macon Delta Rivers.

I am writing this letter today because someone from Iran was asking for help about who knows how to treat scleroderma. I know two people. One doctor is the head of the Dermatology Department at the University of Utah and the other doctor is at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.

My doctor at the University of Utah finally diagnosed me after years of tests. We did everything we could think of doing to find this out. I was sick of all the tests; I felt like I was a human test tube.

We tried radiation, which worked for a short time. I was able to do things that I had not been able to do for over fifteen years, but it messed me up some. Now my mouth is very dry and I have to drink a lot of water. I was in so much pain that it was very hard for me to walk by the afternoon, so my doctor helped me obtain a scooter to ride when my feet would not work.

I went to many clinics around Utah and that was costly. Over the years I spent over ten thousand dollars just trying to find out how to help myself. Then I found another doctor who is a total wellness chiropractic physician. He has helped me a lot. Before I met him I would get up every day and ask God to come and get me. Now after much physical therapy I feel much better, so I no longer ask God to come and get me; instead I ask Him to help me each and every day. I am not out of the woods yet, but what my doctor and I worked out keeps me in better shape.

I get three massages a week. Two of them are a good workout and make me feel great, but the one in the middle of the week is a deep tissue massage and it is painful. (I am a wimp and cannot take too much pain.) I swim one to three times a week. I also do Qigong work outs and yoga once a week. This is what I have found it takes for me to keep ahead of scleroderma.

A lot has happened to me and my health and it will be an uphill fight. But I am not willing to give this life up, so I will press on.

This year the Veteran's Administration (V.A.) in Salt Lake City has started a new program with some of the veterans. It is an optional eight week class called "Choosing to Heal", which has an integrative approach. It works with the Qigong class. It seems that when I take this class I have to watch my insulin closer because most of the time I need less insulin on those nights.

Some of the men I have talked to said this class did not do anything for them, but I am sick of being sick and I have to look for help all over the place. I am not ready to give up yet so I will do whatever it takes to make me feel better. Feeling better is good. I have been fighting scleroderma for fifteen years now and if I can answer any of your questions, I will do what I can.

The doctors behind this program have done a lot to help me move about. It has taken a lot of people to make it so I can walk and move again. I am still in pain, but if I take my medications, my feet, arms and the rest of my body say 'Go out and do your best.'

I will write more in the future. If you would like more information about my doctors, you can email me.

To Contact the Author

Brian D. Jessop
Email: [email protected]
Story posted 1-19-04

ISN Senior Artist: Sherrill Knaggs
Story Editor: Judith Devlin
Radiation and Scleroderma
Scleroderma Experts

ISN Story Editor: Judith Thompson Devlin

Photo of JudithJudith Thompson Devlin is the ISN Story Editor for this story. She is also lead editor of the ISN's wonderful Voices of Scleroderma book series!

ISN Artist: Sherrill Knaggs (In Loving Memory)

Sherrill KnaggsSherrill Knaggs, ISN Artist, created the digital photo to illustrate the story on this page. Sherrill lived in New Zealand. Her story was featured in ISN's book, Voices of Scleroderma Volume 2.

Go to Brianne: Surviving Daughter of Scleroderma Patient

SCLERO.ORG was the world's leading nonprofit for trustworthy research, support, education and awareness for scleroderma and related illnesses from 1998 to 2021. It was a grassroots movement from the original Scleroderma from A to Z web site, which was founded by Shelley Ensz. We were a 501(c)(3) U.S.-based public charitable foundation. We closed this web site and our nonprofit agency in April 2021.

International Scleroderma Network (ISN)