Asha N. - Diagnosed at age 12
Hi, my name is Asha. I'm a proud nurse, love to travel, and all things pink. I also have SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus), diagnosed in 2012, and lupus nephritis, diagnosed in 2016. Before this, I had arthritis, in 2010. For those who don't know what SLE or lupus nephritis is, SLE is an autoimmune disease that attacks your tissues and can cause inflammation of the vital organs. It can affect your joints, skin, brain, lungs, kidneys, heart and appearance. My appearance has changed drastically due to the side effects of my medication, which has taken a toll on my confidence. However, prolonged use can have horrible effects on the body, such as swelling that makes your face look puffy and Cushing’s syndrome, which causes red stretch marks from rapid weight gain in your tummy, neck and shoulders. This is something I struggle with.
Lupus Nephritis is a type of kidney disease caused by SLE, and over time, it can worsen and lead to kidney failure. I have struggled for many years with my condition, both physically and mentally. But 2023 has been super challenging and life-threatening. This year, I had two hospital admissions. I developed AKI (Acute Kidney Injury) due to gastroenteritis and hypovolemia and required support from a breathing machine. The doctors also found a blood clot in my left renal vein and discovered I have heart failure. I’m on a lot of treatment for my heart failure and all the other conditions. On top of that, I always have weekly/monthly blood tests and appointments, which is tiring and anxiety-inducing, but I know it's beneficial to attend to maintain good health and it allows doctors, and nurses to pick up on any abnormalities.
Having a chronic illness is hard - sometimes, I forget how it feels to be happy and healthy. But I have such a wonderful family, boyfriend and a group of friends who love me for the way I am, and they all contribute to my welfare. I want to be that supportive person for those who are struggling as well. I hope this blog helps to normalize your illness, encourages you to express your feelings and difficulties and instils hope about getting better. You're not your illness. You're more than that!