For the rest of the month I’ll be publishing several posts to help teach you more about lupus because it’s a very confusing disease that many people find difficult to discuss. Sixteen months after my diagnosis, I still barely understand it.
To start things off here are 10 things you should know about lupus:
1. Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body especially skin, joints and organs inside the body.
2. “Chronic” means I’ll be dealing with this crap for a long time.
3. “Autoimmune” means my immune system is confused. Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from “foreign invaders” like viruses, bacteria and germs. Autoimmune means your immune system can’t tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue.
4. Lupus strikes mostly women of color ages 15 to 44, but men, children, and teenagers and people of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus, too.
5. For most people lupus is a mild condition that only affects a few organs. For some it causes more serious, even life-threatening complications.
6. Some of the more serious complications involving major organ systems include kidney failure, pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in your lungs), stroke, memory loss, seizures, and even heart attack. (Don’t freak out. This stuff hasn’t happened to me.)
7. Many people with lupus also struggle with skin problems, especially a distinct rash across the nose and cheeks known as the butterfly rash.
8. The butterfly has been adopted as a symbol of hope for the lupus cause.
9. Lupus is a painful disease and causes many to struggle with severe fatigue. So give us a break, okay?
10. One of the most annoying things you can say to a person with lupus is “But you don’t look sick.” So don’t say it.
To learn more about lupus visit the Lupus Foundation of America website at www.lupus.org.
If you have lupus and would like to share your story with GeorgiaMae readers, email me at email@example.com.