LIVING WITH LUPUS | Bianca Padilla

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Earlier this year my life was altered by lupus. In January I had my first full-blown flare. At this point, I wasn’t even diagnosed yet. I had a fever that lasted for more than a few days. One of the lymph nodes around my jaw was swollen. I had chills and night sweats during the time I was going through with the fever. In addition, I started to not eat and if I did eat something, I wouldn’t keep it down during the night. This went on for a month. During this time, my GP had to go for multiple blood tests, nothing really was determined at this point. I was referred to see an infectious disease doctor in February at a hospital. While I was being examined by the infectious disease doctor, she noticed how lethargic I was, and told me that I looked very unwell. She decided that I should be admitted to this hospital. They were going to test me as an inpatient.

I stayed at this hospital for a week. I got a CT scan, a biopsy of my lymph node and you guessed it, more blood testing. I met numerous doctors of different specialties to see what is causing this long-term fever. This is when I met my current rheumatologist. At first, the rheumatologist thought that it was sarcoidosis. This was before the results of the CT scan and the biopsy. As more blood tests came up, I am guessing that she deduced it to SLE. Fortunately, nothing malignant came up from my biopsy.

My attending doctor came into the room and told me I had Lupus. To be quite honest, I didn’t feel anything when he said it. All I thought was “that’s what Selena Gomez has”, and that was all I knew. He gave me a few sheets of paper explaining what the disease entailed and what medications I will be taking. The papers explained what the side effects of the medications will be. It was a lot of information to soak in for sure. I was then discharged after a couple of days of the diagnosis.

I certainly had to adjust to the prednisone. I barely slept and was super hungry all the time. I went back to work as a dental hygienist after a few weeks at home. I was super anxious because my hands were shaking so much while I was on 30mg of prednisone.

After 2 months, it was my birthday. My partner and I went on a weekend retreat. It was very relaxing and I felt normal after all of it. However, a few days after, my feet started to feel numb and tingling. I did a nerve conduction study and I got a pinched nerve. I felt defeated at this point as if everything was coming up all at once.

I took time off of work again because I couldn’t walk properly and felt super tired every time I came home from work. My partner told me that I looked exhausted all the time I came home from work. I did feel it. I felt like my weekend was to catch up on more sleep. I never enjoyed my life during this time.

After being off for a while, I decided to change my career path and became an admin for real estate. It was much more relaxed compared to a fast-paced environment like a dental office. My partner tells me now that I look much happier coming home and I am.

Other than work, my hair started to fall out throughout this and legs had sores on them. I felt very ugly. As my markers went down, my sores went away. I started to use hair growth products and they work amazingly. I lost a lot of weight during the time I was sick. Since then, I don’t have my old appetite, but I actually eat and keep it down now. I’m slowly getting my confidence back.

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