Thirty-One Faces of Hope: Regina Olmstead
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.
Meet Regina Olmstead
My name is Regina Olmstead and I have Lupus. Two of my sisters, Sharon Davis and Pam Bennett, also have Lupus. Sharon passed in 2006 from complications from lupus and diabetes. It is clear that lupus has really had a huge impact on our lives.
I was diagnosed when I was 17 years old. I have had a lot of ups and downs over the years. I have also learned to live with a tremendous amount of pain and a lot of ridicule from well-meaning people who simply do not understand the disease. When I was first diagnosed, most of the people I encountered had never heard of lupus. Therefore, I thought it was something to be ashamed of and I didn't talk about it very much. The doctor who diagnosed me told me not to make any long-range plans. That was not a very encouraging thing to tell a 17-year-old girl.
Well guess what? I didn't die! Thank God! Here I am writing about it all these years later! I was told that I shouldn't have children, but as it turns out, I had one anyway --- I never was a good listener. I have a wonderful daughter who is 39 years old and happily, she shows no signs of having lupus. I had a very difficult pregnancy. The doctors didn't know much about lupus at the time and I felt that as much as they tried their best, they simply did not know what to do.
In 2009, I contracted the H1N1 flu, and had MRSA pneumonia. I spent almost a month in a coma and on life support. Then I had to have two months of rehab to learn how to use my arms again and to walk. I have also had several sinus surgeries.
After I recovered the doctors diagnosed me with CVID/Hypogammaglobinemia. Basically, I have no immune system. I have arthritis in multiple joints including my spine and i am in constant pain. I need shoulder surgery and my hands are swollen a lot and are difficult to use.
I am really excited to have become involved with the Georgia Chapter of the Lupus Foundation. My family and I have participated in every walk since the first one in 2007. Participating in the walk and coming up with the idea for selling the butterflies, and raising money for the Lupus Foundation has brought more joy into my life than you can imagine. It makes me feel so much better to be doing something positive to fight back against this awful disease. It's also nice being able to talk to meet and talk to other lupus patients and know that someone else understands what we are all going through. We can sympathize with one another because we have some of the same problems.
The Lupus Foundation is doing an excellent job getting the information to the people who need it the most and I try to do my part as a lupus ambassador and talking to newly diagnosed patients. I have a great doctor, Kimberly Wilson, M.D. and that really helps too.
I have had a wonderful support system. In addition to my daughter Tori, God gifted me with two additional daughters, Jennifer and Stacy, when I married Bo. And now, I have two beautiful granddaughters, Rachel and Caroline. My husband, Bo has been with me through thick and thin and has done a wonderful job taking care of me. No one knows more than a lupus caregiver, how difficult our lives can be. I love this man so much and appreciate all he does. I don't think I could have gotten by without him.
- Regina Olmstead
Thank You to Our Generous Sponsor
Choosing to prioritize your kidney health might be uncomfortable, but the reality is that up to 30% of people who live with lupus nephritis may experience kidney failure, which can lead to dialysis or even a kidney transplant. Luckily, there are steps you can take now that may help, such as scheduling routine tests and asking your doctor about treatment options. Talk to your doctor to learn more about routine testing and treatment.
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