I have been reluctant until now to share my diagnosis. I didn't want people to think I just wanted attention or sympathy, but honestly I'm done worrying about what other people think of me. This is who I am and this is my story.
The past year and a half has been extremely challenging with my health. For the longest time doctors could not figure out what was wrong, why I was losing weight, why I couldn't keep food down or why my joints were so swollen and painful. I was in and out of doctors offices, the emergency room and the medical clinic on campus. With each different diagnosis I grew more frustrated because nothing was helping.
By Thanksgiving last year I had become scary skinny because no matter how hard I tried I could not keep food in my body. I tried everything from soup to the BRAT diet, but nothing seemed to work. I was exhausted all the time and was struggling to stay on top of all my school work. Doctors told me I was working myself too hard. Then came the diagnosis of thyroid problems. Next it was mono, which I knew wasn't it because I already had mono years ago.
Around Christmas my stomach finally stopped revolting and I was able to keep food down. I started regaining strength, but I was still exhausted all the time. It didn't matter if I slept 5 hours or 10 hours I was exhausted.
Severe migraines crippled me next. I have always had migraines so I didn't think anything of it until I started having one every day. I was referred to different doctors and neurologists, but none of them understood why there was a sudden increase in the frequency of headaches.
In beginning of July I was back at my regular doctor complaining again about how swollen and painful my joints were. It was then that she asked me about all the little bruises on my legs and the lacy pattern of bruising up my arms. I had had the bruising for so long I no longer thought anything of it. Of course I was self conscious about it and that's why I shied away from pictures, but I never thought all of my symptoms could be connected.
My doctor ran massive amounts of bloodwork on me (again), but this time I finally had a diagnosis. I had lupus. All of the aches, pains, weight loss and bruising was caused by the lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease where your bodies immune system attack itself causing all sorts of problems like weight loss, joint pain and headaches among other symptoms.
Getting the diagnosis was a bit of a shock, but also a relief. It was nice to finally have answers, but also scary because there is no cure for lupus. Lupus is fully manageable with medication and a great team of doctors, thankfully I have an awesome team of doctors.
It has been a long road to get a positive diagnosis, but finally knowing has given me some peace of mind. While I have only had a diagnosis for a little over a month and am still working on a treatment plan with doctors I am optimistic about the future. I was able to start running again and that has brought me more joy than anyone could understand. I've fought hard to be able to run again and while I'm nowhere near the level I used to be I am still proud. I am proud that I fought through the aches and pains and ran my first 5K yesterday since being diagnosed.
Lupus will affect the rest of my life, but I refuse to let it set limitations on what I can or cannot do. I am determined to run a marathon, despite what doctors have told me. Yes lupus will make things more difficult, but it does not make them impossible.
Lupus is a part of me, but it does not define me.