When I was about 18 years old I had pain through my entire my body. I visited various doctors and went through various treatments to ease the pain, but the Lupus continued to go undiagnosed.
At 25 years old, I started getting skin rashes from being in the sun. One day I was at a football field for a fireworks display, and was completely paralyzed - my future husband had to carry me off the field as I could not walk on my own.
When I was 29, I got pregnant with my first child. It was a difficult pregnancy - I was always swollen, couldn't walk up the steps, etc. My son was stillborn in the 7th month. At the time one of the doctor's thought that I should be tested for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; however, I got pregnant again right away and almost lost my daughter in the 7th month as well.
She was born weighing 3 lbs 11 oz and was in ICU for a month. When she came home, it was difficult to take care of her due to flare ups and pain throughout my body. I went to a Rheumatologist and was diagnosed with Lupus and severe Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had been tested for that twice before, but the Lupus did not flare up until after the birth of my child. I was told it was so severe that I could possibly end up in a wheelchair, and I was advised to not have anymore children.
I had a new baby and a grim future ahead of me, but I knew that I had to live for her. I went through various treatments including chemotherapy, but it never got better. I have never seen remission, and when I was 40 years old, my first organ to fail was my heart and I had to have open heart surgery.
I am now 58 years old, and have been debilitated by this disease for almost 29 years. It is difficult to do so many things because the Arthritis in my hands is so disfiguring. Simple things have become hard including exercising, typing, lifting, opening, etc.
I ask you to please consider making a donation toward my fundraising efforts for the Lupus Foundation of America. This disease needs awareness, and I want to do my part to help others with this disease have a better quality of life.