Thirty-One Faces of Hope: Ashley Washington
The lupus community includes people living with lupus, friends, family and supporters across Georgia. For Lupus Awareness Month, we would like to highlight some of our lupus heroes and champions.
My name is Ashley Washington. I was diagnosed with lupus SLE in 2013 on my birthday. I wasn’t sick, I wasn’t in pain and I certainly wasn’t taking any medications. I remember going to the doctor for a routine physical exam and was later told that my blood work came back abnormal. I was sent to see a hematologist to get my blood tested further. I received the call while shopping for my birthday outfit that the blood results revealed I had lupus. I was immediately set up to meet with a Rheumatologist to discuss the diagnosis and my options. I discussed the phone call with my husband and we decided that no matter what we would get through it.
Before my diagnosis I’d rarely heard of lupus and knew it was incurable. I was scared and overwhelmed. After meeting with the doctor I was immediately placed on a number of medications and scheduled for several more appointments. I cried A LOT and often felt sorry for myself. I couldn’t believe a simple yearly physical had led to all of this. I didn’t look sick and definitely didn’t feel sick.
In addition to lupus, I was diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, Raynaud’s syndrome, and Fibromyalgia. At one point I was taking as many as 15 pills a day. Now, I’m down to 6 pills a day. During this journey I’ve been hospitalized 4 times. Each time being nothing short of a week’s stay. Today, I am doing much better. I try to stay as healthy as I can and I am aware of the things that may lead to a lupus flare. My lupus is well managed and, best of all, I gave birth to my first child, a baby boy on May 7th!
Finally, I have accepted that my life has forever changed. Having lupus is now a new normal for me. I have realized the importance of choosing the good in every situation. I chose to experience life and all of its greatness regardless of what lupus takes me through. I also spread awareness about the disease and help raise funds every year to help find a cure with the Georgia Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America.