That time I … was diagnosed with Lupus

Blackboard with text

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Blackboard with text “Lupus”, book, pills and stethoscope on blue wooden background.

Janyce-Monique Johnson, Columnist

I was 14 when I first had symptoms. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, symptoms of Lupus develop in mostly women of ages 15-44.

Symptoms began in 2013 when I was in the 8th grade. I had a presentation in English class, and I was nervous. When the teacher called my name, I stood up, and as I made my way to the front of the class, I suddenly stiffened up. I simply could not move no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t move my hands, my legs, my face and I stayed stuck, unable to escape this temporary state of paralysis. 

Finally, after 20-30 seconds, I was mobile again. I looked around and saw the faces of my teacher and my classmates, all with expressed concern.

I convinced my mom to take me to the doctor, whose only advice was to “eat more vitamins.” But the vitamins did not stop the symptoms from occurring. I tried to control it the best I could. After five years, I took myself to see a rheumatologist. She took blood samples from me and ran several tests to discover why I kept having joint pains. Two months later, I returned to the rheumatologist, who told me I have Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. 

After my diagnosis, I had a lot of roaming thoughts about this illness I had never heard of. So, I decided to do some research. I found out that Lupus is an autoimmune disease, and in my case, my antibodies are attacking the connective tissue in my joints, causing me to have joint pains and stiffness. I also found out that the origin of Lupus is still in research, and there is currently no cure. 

Since my diagnosis, I’ve had many moments where I felt helpless, hopeless, and alone being the only person I personally know diagnosed with this autoimmune disease. But I found my hope: writing, helping others, and fun experiences. Writing helps me express my struggles in a way that helps the world understand Lupus and myself better.I know having Lupus will complicate my life forever, but I choose to transform this negative aspect of my being and drown it in positive opportunities and experiences. 

The feeling of being alone faded when I discovered that several celebrities live with Lupus including Selena Gomez and Seal. Now, I know I’m not alone, and for anyone reading this, whatever struggle you’re living through, you are not alone either.