Jan. 16, 2017

Like You: Kayla Lockwood

We were fifteen years old. She walked into class one day, showed me the spots on her stomach covered in bandages, telling me about her doctor visit and jokingly saying “I probably have cancer!”

“You don’t have cancer!” I said, rolling my eyes. She continued laughing about all of it, saying “What if I die? Kayla, if you ever died, I would sit in a corner with a baseball bat, rocking back and forth like a crazy person, talking to the sky as if you could still hear me.”

Lupus rocked my world a few months later. A blood clot resulting from lupus unexpectedly took my best friend’s life in her sleep. I haven’t grabbed any baseball bats, but I certainly stole her idea of talking to the sky. At her showing I grabbed her hand and vowed I would make the most of this crazy life.  

Fast forward a couple years to the end of my freshman year of college. Constantly exhausted (I could sleep 12 hours, be up for 2, and be ready to go back to sleep), Raynaud’s to the point of tears, a variety of strange rashes and mouth sores, etc. I never thought much of it until I heard Raynaud’s can be connected to an autoimmune disease. To be safe, I started what would lead to a long road of testing. My antinuclear antibody (ANA) test read 640*. They hooked me up with a rheumatologist and after months of blood draws I tested positive for lupus anticoagulant, but did not have the binding factor it needed to create a clot (which was my main concern). I was sent to a hematologist following this who told me I am also borderline anemic. I wear a white scar on my rib from a biopsy at the dermatologist. I also get weekly allergy shots in both arms, as that same year I got multiple sinus infections then later reacted to EVERYTHING on the allergist’s skin test except mold. I haven’t been told if the allergies are related or not. I am told I will probably present more symptoms as I get older.

I earned my associate’s degree in education before changing my major and transferring to IU. My major is now management through SPEA which focuses more on nonprofits and the public sector, and I have a minor in international studies with hopes of helping the world someday. I realized I wasn’t truly happy unless I am helping others. When I saw the opportunity to become a lupus support group facilitator, I jumped on the chance. I am truly blessed to be where I am at today. I cried after leaving the training session because in my heart I know that everything is going to be okay, I’m proud of myself, and I know I am making my best friend proud, even if I cannot hear her responses back from the sky.

*A positive antinuclear antibody (ANA) test does not automatically mean you have lupus. Your immune system is your body's natural defense against disease. A positive ANA blood test shows that your immune system is making an antibody (protein) that reacts with components of your body's cells.

Read other stories in our 'Like You' series