December 8, 2014. It was the first day at my first big girl job. I remember sitting in training and I started having this unbearable chest pain. I took some Aspirin and waited for the pain to subside. I’ve had chest pain before, but it was nothing like that. A few days later, I remember my fingers just turning completely numb while some of them were blue and some of them were white. At this point, I knew something was wrong. Luckily, we have a doctors office at my job, so my trainer sent me there.
The doctor did several tests and blood-work, but she wouldn’t have answers until a few days later. She called a week later and told me that I had a positive ANA test. I had NO idea what that was, so I googled it. She also recommended that I see a Rheumatologist, because the positive ANA test was a sign of Lupus. I had never heard of Lupus before, so I had no idea what it was or what it consisted off.
I got sick a lot as a kid. I was constantly in the hospital, because of my stomach. I was always told that it was just acid reflex, or IBS. Honestly, I just think they told me whatever they thought of at the time.
Before finally getting referred to a Rheumatologist, I saw my family doctor for a while. He ran as many tests as he could. My white blood cell count was a little off, and I was having symptoms that I had never experienced before. I would get really bad pain in my legs and they would swell up to the point that I couldn’t walk. I would break out in hives when I was in the sun. My fingers were still turning white and blue. I was always so tired, even after having a good night of rest.
Finally, I was able to see a Rheumatologist. They took so many tubes of blood from me that I thought I would pass out. Lol, in my city the doctors are terrible, so the Rheumatologist sent me to a well-known Rheumatologist at John Hopkins in Baltimore, MD. The doctor comes in and she said the words I never wanted to hear. “You indeed have Lupus, Padishia. You also have Fibromyalgia.”
I was so shocked. How did I get this disease? What does this even mean? Am I going to die? I had SO many questions, but no answers. Life sure does have a way of humbling you.
Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body).
In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates auto antibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These auto antibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.
My symptoms just seemed to get worse and worse. The chest pain had started to get so bad that I would just cry. The swelling in my legs got worse and I remember waking up one night because of the swelling and trying to go to the bathroom, I couldn’t even walk. I had no movement in my legs.
I was referred to yet ANOTHER Rheumatologist, but this one was in another city near me. This doctor was AMAZING! I’m so thankful that I was recommended to see him. Honestly, I have about five doctors that I have to see. I have three Rheumatologist, a heart doctor, and my family doctor.
During the summer of 2016 I was taken out of work for a month and a half, due to having so many flare ups back to back. It sucks when you’re only 23, but your joints and bones act as those of an 80 year old person. I can’t even begin to tell you how many nights I spent in the hospital crying my eyes out for the pain to subside. There are days where I feel like my body has been hit by a truck over and over. Days where I’m so nauseous I throw up nonstop.
They’ve had me on every medication possible. I also have to get injections in my hips and elbows every 3 months, because of my pain. Last year, I noticed that my vision started to get SO bad. I’ve never had problems with my vision before. Everything was blurry, I was getting light headed and migraines trying to look at my computer at work. I saw my eye doctor, and my vision was TERRIBLE! 20/70 in one eye, and 20/50 in the other. Apparently, one of my lupus medications has a very high side effect of messing up the retina in your eyes. So, of course, I had to get glasses.
With Lupus, the possibility of you having kids are very slim. I remember my doctor telling me that if I were to try to have a baby now, I would wither miscarry or my child would have birth defects. Of course, this is such a huge fear of mine that when I get married I won’t be able to produce. On top of that, I have a cyst on my ovaries. Though this is my biggest fear, I’m reminded that God has not given me the spirit of fear, and God is the ultimate doctor.
My doctors always told me that Lupus was genetic, but somehow I’m the only one in my family with it. I know that this is only a part of my testimony, and I tell myself DAILY that I’m already healed, even days when my pain is at an all time high. I don’t talk about having Lupus often anymore, because I don’t want to claim that I even have it, let alone give it any type of power or control. By his stripes, I’m already healed.
There are days that I still question why I had to be the one diagnosed with it, but I understand that everything happens for a reason. I didn’t know my true strength, until I was diagnosed with disease. I’ve met so many women via social media who have helped me get through some of the toughest times.
I always hear “well you don’t look sick.” You’re right, I don’t, but people have no idea what people with Lupus go through. We are literally screaming on the inside because of pain. Some people with Lupus have to go through dialysis or chemotherapy. It’s that serious. But I’m so thankful that I serve a God who wraps me in his arms each and every time, and gives me peace 💜
Well you all, this concludes my testimony series for now. I’ve truly enjoyed sharing my story with you all. Eventually, I’ll share more, but some stuff I’m unable to talk about, because it’s still fresh and I’m still healing.