Why I Walk : Jennifer Stillwell
"Prior to being formally diagnosed, I would go to the doctor complaining of extreme fatigue, joint pain, and rashes. I was told that I was having joint pain due to Vitamin D and B12 deficiencies. I had allergy testing done to help pin point the cause of the rashes. I went through this for over two years with no real answers. Once I started developing horrible bruising on my legs for no apparent reason, I asked my doctor to test for lupus.
My grandmother passed away 13 years ago from Lupus. For many years, the disease affected her kidneys and heart. Since I knew someone affected by lupus, I was more aware of the symptoms and conditions of the disease. Once I developed the bruising on my legs, I started to do more research and found that you are more likely to develop lupus if it’s in your family history. Test results came back positive for three of the antibodies doctors look for when diagnosing lupus.
I was then referred to a rheumatologist who did further testing and confirmed the diagnosis based on my symptoms, test results, and family history. Once the final diagnosis was made, everything I had been going through and feeling for the last couple of years made sense. All the dots were finally connected.
I now have to take medication to help keep my lupus under control. I know that the pain, fatigue, and other uncomfortable symptoms that occur from having lupus are all parts of a lifelong battle that I will have to fight daily. One thing I know for sure is that I have not let lupus slow me down! I believe that you have to live your life to the fullest and enjoy every moment because tomorrow is not promised to you!
I was born with cerebral palsy and have undergone five surgeries during my life. I have never felt sorry for myself, nor do I not want anyone to treat me differently. There is no way I will let lupus change that. There’s no point in feeling sorry for yourself or asking “Why Me?” Currently, there is no cure for lupus, so the best thing to do is except it and live your life day by day. Hopefully, one day there will be a cure to this mysterious disease. But until then, all we can do is stay positive!"