About Me:

Aloha! I'm Wendy Kennar. I'm the mother of a seven-year-old son and a wife living in Los Angeles. I was a public school teacher for twelve years until a chronic medical condition made it necessary to leave my teaching career.

I've always been described as "quiet" - really, I'm just biting my tongue. I've got lots to say, and lots of thoughts to share, I just prefer to write them. That's the purpose of this blog. Each Wednesday, I post a personal essay offering my observations and thoughts.

A few fun facts about me: I've wanted to be a writer since second grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Jones, made me a "book" with a yellow construction paper cover. I have never learned to whistle, have always preferred sunflowers to roses, and have spent my life living within the same zip code.

Through the years, my writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, GreenPrints, L.A. Parent, DivineCaroline.com, RoleReboot.org, XOJane, and Brain, Child Magazine. Additionally, my personal essays have been included in several anthologies, including: The Barefoot Review, Beyond the Diaper Bag, Lessons From My Parents, Write for Light, Being a Grown-Up: A User's Manual for the Real World, Ka-Pow!, How Writing Can Get You Through Tough Times, Breath and Shadow, The Grey Wolfe Storybook, and Sisters Born, Sisters Found.
I am a regular contributor at MomsLA.com, and you can also find me at Goodreads.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to comment and share my blog with others!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dealing with a Diagnosis

   It was almost a year and a half, between the time I was hospitalized and the time I received a diagnosis.  My doctor, a world-renowned rheumatologist, arranged an early morning appointment so I could still make it to work on time.  I took that as a good sign.  I didn’t think a doctor would deliver terrible news first thing in the morning, knowing full well that in less than an hour, I’d be expected to teach fourth grade.

   It was the first time we had been invited into a doctor’s office.  All my other appointments always took place in an exam room.  This time, I sat in a chair, fully dressed, and held Paul’s hand.  We looked around and noticed the pictures of the doctor’s grandchildren.  We whispered comments of admiration for the many framed awards, declarations, certificates, and diplomas hanging on the walls.  We noticed the shelves of books -- books written by my doctor.  

   Finally, we were in the hands of an expert.  Someone who knew what he was doing, and I trusted he would be able to help me.

   Dr. W. told me the official name for my condition:  Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease.  UCTD.  He told me it was a rare condition and explained it as an autoimmune disease with over-lapping symptoms of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and myositis.  I didn’t have any of those diseases, but symptoms of each, which made my condition more difficult to diagnosis and to treat.  He jokingly said I could call it “The Kennar.”  It was rare, so I may as well put my own name on it.

   At the time, I joked that I was always “daring to be different,” and apparently, my illness was no exception.  Now I realize that when it comes to medical issues, rare isn’t always a good thing.  People don’t know what I have.  They haven’t heard of it.  It isn’t named after a famous baseball player, it doesn’t have its own awareness month or ribbon, and it doesn’t have its own walk for the cure.  

   A few years after the fact, and I realize how naive I was at the time.  I received a  diagnosis and assumed I’d learn to live with the condition.  I’d make a few adjustments, take some medication, and get better.  I thought, and actually told others, that my condition was something along the lines of asthma (which I’ve lived with since childhood)or diabetes; it would be there and I would have to find ways to manage it.  The possibilities leading up to the diagnosis were so much worse:  cancer, leukemia, multiple sclerosis.  I would handle this.

   Little did I know that living with and managing my disease would result in me leaving my teaching career.  At the time, I really didn’t think my life would change.  But it has, and continues to change.

   I was diagnosed almost two years ago.  And yet, this whole medical condition (notice how I shy away from using the word “disease”) still feels so new.  I still don’t feel like I know how to live with a chronic medical condition.

   It’s not just my body that has to change, it’s my mind.  I have to keep changing the way I think about myself, the way I tend to push myself too hard.  For as much as I have tried to deny it, I am not completely the same person I was before the diagnosis.  Not necessarily “worse,” just not the same.  And, I’m finally realizing, I won’t ever be the same.


  1. I am so sorry you have this medical condition,and I would give anything to be able to take it from you.You certainly do not deserve to have to deal with all the pain you are constantly in.As far as being the same person,you are still the same wonderful caring and loving person you have always been.I feel you push yourself way to much especially when days you are in worse pain than others.I am sorry you had to leave your teaching job do to your illness.I pray everyday that your pain will ease up.I am very proud to say you are my daughter.I love you and I am very proud of you.

  2. It kills me to know how much pain you are in and that there is nothing I can do to help you.I would loved to take your pain and give it to myself. You are still a wonderful daughter and a wonderful wife, and you are doing a fantastic job in raising Ryan. Your mother and I are vey proud of you.
    love, dad

  3. Honey,
    You are an amazing woman and I am so proud of you. Adversity brings out a person's true colors and you are a wonderful rainbow of strength and beauty.
    I Love You!

  4. I am in awe at your bravery and courage. I admire your strength and wish we could have writing and coffee dates. I love your writing. It gives me a chance to see what is happening in your world for the week, month or even years. I know this change was hard for you and you still struggle with slowing down. But you have handled it very well. I love you and miss you.