Today is World Lupus Day!
What is Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect any part of the body in which the body’s immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissues because it mistakes the self as foreign invader tissues.
When I was in school pursuing my physical therapy doctorate one of my close friends was diagnosed with Lupus. During the evolution of the disease, my friend would ask me to do oscillations on the joints of their fingers to help relieve some of the pressure built up from swelling. We both thought that it was just due to an overconsumption of salt or potentially another food allergy. My friend cut these potential food causes out and found that it did not make the situation any better. The symptoms only grew worse and worse. They were about to go out on first internship and was concerned about being able to use their hands. The program we were in also focused on manual therapy, which heavily requires usage of your hands. My friend eventually went to a doctor who thought it could be some form of osteoarthritis (which is madness because of our age) and prescribed a steroid. I continuously checked up on my friend to see how they were doing (because I am that forever friend… but that isn’t important here) and they said it was helping to keep them functional but was definitely not a fix. Eventually they where able to go to another doctor who tested and diagnosed for Lupus. Once diagnosed, they prescribed prednisone and we both were concerned for the potential side effects of taking that (think moon face – anyone else take pharmacology? I could go on and on and sound like a commercial, but I won’t). Anyway, it was a wild ride to take with my friend and I am happy that I could be there as they went through the process of discovering the diagnosis and accepting it. They now are able to function normally and the condition does not rule their life. My friend is not ready to let the entire world know of this on a personal level but wanted to speak out for World Lupus Day because the condition can affect anybody with a body.
Guest Story Time:
I’m pretty lucky overall. I was diagnosed with lupus less than a year ago. Most people who are diagnosed with lupus go to an average of 10 doctors before being diagnosed. I went to 2 doctors, gave 2 vials of blood, and was diagnosed. I’m lucky for that. It all started around the beginning of 2016. I started feeling pain and restrictions in the range of motion of my fingers of both hands. (I should have prefaced this story by stating that I am a physical therapy student.) Going through classes makes you extra in tune with your own aches and pains. When my hands started symmetrically hurting and swelling, I had a feeling that something was up. I had no idea what was going on because there was seemingly no physical reason why my hands hurt this way and the same on both sides. I tried limiting my sodium intake because I read that could be a contributor, as well as cutting out alcohol and dairy. Nothing worked. It wasn’t until the summer that I noticed the pain and swelling was getting worse. I started feeling pain in more proximal joints, and it eventually got so painful it was hard to get dressed in the morning. As the day wore on, my joints loosened and I was able to function. I went to a couple of critical care clinics and was provided with a steroid pack. They helped for the duration of the medicine, but then the pain would eventually come back.
If something feels wrong or not normal, do something about it! Receiving a diagnosis is nothing to fear. In fact, having this can help you manage your life better, why suffer silently when you can lead a normal life?