I admit it. I knew very little about Lupus or any other auto-immune disease until my uncle was diagnosed with it several years ago. The Summer of 2009 held our annual July Family Reunion. As always, my Uncle Reggie was in attendance. Normally, Reggie was a very active and jocular fellow, but this year he just wasn’t up to being the life of the party.
I sat down with him and offered him a hot dog but he declined. He had no appetite. In fact, for the last few months he told me had been dealing with what he thought was a simple case of Influenza and stress at his job. He was extremely tired nonstop and had bouts of fever on and off. He complained of pain in his chest, not being able to get his breath and bad pain in his knees.
So another year went by and in 2010 our Family Reunion popped up on the calendar once again. I hadn’t given my Uncle much thought over the last year as I thought he had the flu, much like he did. After arriving and settling in, I greeted my Uncle. I learned he had been diagnosed with Lupus. An auto-immune disease that can cause your joints, kidneys and even your heart and brain to become inflamed.
I also learned that there was great difficulty in the actual diagnosis because the way Lupus presents is so similar to a myriad of different diseases and disorders. So, after my Uncle underwent countless blood tests and x-rays, his doctors finally came to the conclusion that he had Lupus. The final piece of the puzzle being a strange rash on his face that wouldn’t go away. Turns out, the rash is a common effect of Lupus.
I asked a lot of questions as I was curious as to what could be done. Nothing. There is no cure for Lupus. My uncle was on a regimen of NSAIDs, steroidal drugs and an immune suppressant to help mange the disease.
According to my uncle, the best thing he ever did was join a local Lupus support group. Having the disease in common with others and being able to share ideas and helpful tips has been extremely beneficial. We’re a tight knit family and we support each other fiercely. Having a strong and supportive group of friends and family have kept his spirits in good fashion.
My uncle’s story is of particular import to me as a couple of years ago, I began to have some of the same symptoms as my Uncle did in the beginning. My knees swell and my joints are painful and at random times I have a fever. As I potentially could be facing a life with Lupus myself, my uncle has been a great inspiration and a pillar of support.