Why I Walk :Steven and Melissa Keehn
During graduate school Melissa Keehn began showing symptoms of an unknown illness (at the time). Her first symptoms were seizures, high fevers, altered mental status, massive headaches, ataxia (loss of all coordination), migrating joint pains and circular rashes all over her body. Initially they diagnosed her with viral meningitis, but after the 5th and 6th doctor visits (coupled with deteriorating health) it was determined that this was not the case. They eventually involved a rheumatologist and flew Melissa to the Mayo Clinic where she went through multiple diagnoses before they came to the conclusion that it was in fact lupus. This was not before she had a stroke that impaired her right side and her speech. Luckily for her she had access to the best medicine and rehab so she can now speak and has minimal damage to her right side.
All of this was nearly 20 years ago, since then she has obtained multiple degrees, met and married her husband, and led a very successful career. Melissa met her husband Steven while she was working at the hospital. Steven tries his best to support her and states that it’s best to “take it one day at a time and be the best advocate for your spouse when they can’t speak up for themselves.” Steven and Melissa are both affected by this illness and both understand that everyone is affected differently, because we are all different. Melissa shared that these feats were not achieved without issue, she has been hospitalized multiple times, during medical school, her residency, and while working as an attending. Most recently she developed an infection in her neck with blood clot, because of this she is still on IV and oral antibiotics for another few weeks. Lupus is a mysterious disease and is frustrating for all but she believes that “if you can keep your stress levels down, eat healthy and take the best medications available you can lead a productive life.” Melissa has maintained a fantastic mindset through all of the pain and struggle that has helped her succeed stating that, “Lupus doesn’t define me or my life, I just happen to have it” Both Steven and Melissa shared their stories in the hopes that it would inspire others, because it is possible to have a happy and successful life, and not let lupus define you.