Driving down the highways of my home state, I often see billboards about lupus. “Could I have lupus?” they ask, ordering each any every driver on the road to “see your doctor about lupus.” They make lupus sound as if it were some mystery disease, and in a way, it is.
What is Lupus?
Medical professionals do not consider lupus to be among the better-understood of human ailments, and this makes it a frustrating condition to suffer from. There are even some people who insist that my lupus is all in my head and I could just think myself better if I really wanted to.
I’ve often heard lupus described as a mystery disease, and I can understand why. There are some things that the medical establishment understands about the condition, though: it’s a chronic autoimmune disease that is brought about by a failure of the immune system.
The Symptoms of Lupus
No one knows quite what that failure of the immune system is, but its effects can be devastating. As I said, lupus is a chronic condition, which means that it lasts for a long time but the intensity ebbs and flows. When it’s at its worst, I can hardly bear it, but when it improves, I can barely remember what all the fuss was about.
Common symptoms of lupus include tiredness, headaches, swollen joints, fever, and anemia, the last of which was actually what tipped my doctor off. When he told me I was slightly anemic, I didn’t think anything of it, as that’s been a problem my whole life.
“Okay,” I asked, “but what about everything else?” I had gone to see the doctor because I was suffering from a host of unpleasant symptoms.
“Could be lupus,” he said, and as the years have gone on, it’s become increasingly obvious that he was right.
Inflammation is usually taken as the telltale sign of lupus, and I’ve struggled with that since long before my diagnosis. I still struggle with symptoms of lupus almost every day, but I’m getting used to it-it’s been years, after all.
I try to remember, when my condition is at its worst, that it’ll get better soon. In the same manner, I try to appreciate it when my condition is more manageable. Living with lupus is about taking each day as it comes.