People experience many different changes and difficulties in their life, but lupus has made an impact in my life that has its own story. It has been an experience that I have perceived, understood, and accepted. By encountering and undergoing the symptoms of lupus, I can honestly say that it has become one of the most profound experiences of my life.
I worked as a Correctional Officer and Correctional Case Assistant for the Department of Corrections for nearly eight years before discovering a change that would impact my life for years to come. In the field of Corrections, I had to remain energetic, alert, and physically fit. In July of 2001, my life as I knew it was about to change.
It began with me feeling fatigued, not just tired. In the mornings I felt lazy, couldn’t wait to rest in the afternoons, but yet I could not sleep at night. I had joint pain and nausea that pushed me to emotional and physical limitations. These were the first noticeable conditions that started to affect my job performance at work.
At this point I started seeing my regular physician and the first steps were taken to help my condition. However, soon to follow I began having affected areas of scaly patches and skin lesions. My doctor diagnosed it as acute cellulitis. Then mood disorders and seizures followed, affecting my nervous system. I also had arthritis and muscle pain affecting my musculoskeletal system. After numerous tests with neurologists, dermatologists, and rheumatoid physicians; my doctor decided to set up a consultation with a rheumatoid Specialist.
My tests had shown that I had anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) which are antibodies against a part of the cell nucleus. The specialist I seen basically told me that my own body was fighting itself. My white and red blood cells were battling one another. This in turn makes it more difficult to fight off infections, and that my cells and organs were infections themselves.
I was informed that the cause of lupus was unknown. However, it is usually manifested genetically or environmentally triggered by sun exposure, drugs, etc. To say the least, I was in shock. I knew nothing at the time about lupus.
My prognosis, like most lupus patients, has been difficult to predict. Through the years, I have had a few relapsing and remitting flares. The flares are not always here, sometimes they sneak up on me. Some have been acute and came to the point of being treated with steroids.
As I said in the beginning, I have perceived, understood, and accepted my lupus. What I have been told, like many lupus fighters is that there is no cure. But there is hope. Lupus has taught me to live my live without fear. Also, to live in control and to encourage others who fight this battle to discover their strength.
Every lupus warrior’s fight is different. I am still at war, but I will never give up the fight.