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“I have lupus but lupus does not have me” – the phrase I adopted after my deep depression three years after my lupus diagnosis in 2010. I was 25.⁣

Two years before that, while in nursing school in Florida, I was in and out of the hospital for migraines, low iron level, high fevers, body aches, and joint pain. Even with MRI’s, CAT scans, spinal tabs, blood transfusions and blood works, they found nothing. I was left with the frustration of knowing something was wrong, but nothing could be found.⁣

There are still three days of my time in the hospital I cannot account for except waking up in the hospital and my cousin and niece beside me and my mom who was in Canada, on the phone. They told me I had a very high temp and fever, couldn’t walk and was sweating profusely.⁣

I remember the Nursing Board moderator handing me a trash can after taking one look at me as I walked into the exam room. I had bad nausea and a migraine that day. She asked me if I was okay taking the exam and my exact words to her were “if I don’t take it today, I will never take it again”. With the help of three extra strength Tylenol, I completed the exam within two hours. Tylenol at that point, only lasted two hours before the fever and aches would start all over again.⁣

For an exam I didn’t study for, it was the grace of God that I passed.⁣

Within 2 weeks of me arriving in Canada, I was back to the hospital with same routine. My 3rd visit to Credit Valley ER on July 2010 was when Dr. Soucy diagnosed me with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Lying motionless in that bed, I thought my life was over. One peculiar thing about that day was the girl in the bed next to mine had just received the same diagnosis earlier that morning. Needless to say, we remain good friends today.⁣

The next three years after my diagnosis were the most testing period of my life. Not only was I dealing with lupus, I had fibromyalgia, anemia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia and depression. The hospital admissions did not end. I had to make difficult decisions on how I was going to live my life I accepted the fact that I will be taking six different prescriptions and vitamins probably for the rest of my life, that natural birth may not happen for me, and that not everyone will understand and surrounded myself with those who understood and still understand.

Today I’m 38, and no hospital visits in six years until this year when a dental extraction went soo wrong and ended up in the hospital with Osteomyelitis. I stay active and listen to my body. I’m greatly thankful for the support system which includes my mom (my backbone) and my best friend and amazing friends and family because without them, this journey becomes more unbearable.  I thrive on beating lupus one day because even though I have lupus, lupus does not have me.

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Living with Lupus Corner with Mauricia Ambrose