Life was simple a few years ago. Uncomplicated and carefree, the toughest decisions I had to make revolved around coordinating clutches with outfits and which shade of OPI nail colour I fancied. At 22, I lived a life like most millennial girls and didn’t pay too much consideration to the tough strides of age and illness.
I was yet to discover how life as I knew it, would change in an instant.
After a chilled weekend away with friends up Sydney’s coast, I experienced my very first in a series of lupus flare-ups. Who knew, spending a day lazing about in the sun, would send my body into complete destruction mode. One minute I was sleeping suspected heatstroke away, and the next I was waking up to discover severely inflamed finger joints along with debilitating muscle aches.
Unaware of the cause of this sudden onset of strange symptoms, I made haste and contacted my GP who then referred me to a rheumatologist back in Sydney.
I felt scared and confused as to what was happening, because up until this point, I had generally been a regular, healthy and active 22-year-old. Sure, I enjoyed the occasional night out drinking but I had never felt so trapped within my own body before.
I walked into his office and scanned around the waiting room. I was greeted by the gazes of a few elderly people and a receptionist who assumed my father was the patient in waiting. After explaining I was actually the one who had made the appointment, the lady kindly led me through to see the doctor. As I sat down, he didn’t waste any time. “Right, your blood test results have come back and in conjunction with your GP’s notes, we suspect you have Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, it’s an auto immune disorder which causes your body to mistakenly attack its own healthy tissue and organs.”
Confused, I stared at the doctor blankly. I had never heard of these words in my entire life and it seemed the more he began talking about inflammation markers and throwing around code names like, CRP and ANA, I could feel my hands starting to sweat. Nervously, I asked him a simple question, “Can you fix it?” to which he responded, “There is no cure for lupus, however, through managing the right medication we will be able to alleviate the symptoms you are experiencing.” He handed me the prescription for a very high dosage of steroid treatment and a pathology request for follow up blood tests. Needing the relief, I obliged, picked up my prescription and headed home.