Mila D. - Diagnosed Age 22
I am a 22 year old critical care registered nurse and doctorate student. I started noticing my symptoms in early 2018. I went from being someone who worked two jobs in nursing school, worked overtime, 12 hour shifts and never stopped to being tired constantly and sleeping in every day almost instantly. I also have ulcerative colitis (another autoimmune disease). I began having trouble breathing, chest pain, joint pain and found myself unable to even get out of bed or stand multiple times a week. By the time September 2018 rolled around, I had been bedridden for a month, unable to breathe properly, with bruises covering my legs and a rash on my face.
When I was diagnosed with lupus, I was terrified. I thought lupus was a death sentence and the thing that would keep me from my passion: nursing. Instead, it taught me so much about myself. I learned how scary it is to be a patient, how small things I used to stress over really didn't matter as much as I thought. I became a better nurse. I learned how to love people with my entire heart and I discovered how much my friends and family care for me. Every day I wake up feeling well is a blessing. I've learned to never waste a day. If I have the energy, I'm going to do the things I enjoy! I love to bake, garden, and play with my dogs. Take everything one day at a time, tell people how much they mean to you, and enjoy every good moment when you get them.
Diagnosis is not the end of the world. It is the beginning of a journey and will lead you down a road to a better version of yourself. You will see the world in a completely different light and learn how strong you are. Take care of yourself, ask questions, advocate for yourself, and FIGHT. I am such a better person because of my diagnosis, not in spite of it. I had to learn to take the worst thing the world has ever given me and make it a positive. I now treasure every day, take breaks when I need them and take each new challenge in stride. The world is only a beautiful place if we make it one.