Gabriella F. - Diagnosed Age 8
Growing up, I would play outside from dawn to dusk and physically challenge myself like the other kids. Then lupus arrived. I began to experiencing unusual fatigue and constant joint pain. My mom knew something was wrong and brought me to Texas Children’s Hospital for evaluation. There, at age eight, I was diagnosed with lupus. Receiving this news was the beginning of a scary, unpredictable journey.
Doctors suggested reducing my stress by cutting down on difficult classes, sports and exposure to sunlight to prevent any flares. However, I believed I could live my life with lupus on my terms. So, despite the potential risks, I went on taking all advanced classes, running track, and just being me.
Since I could remember, the amount of appointments, medication changes and infusions left me physically weak. Certainly there were times when I felt overwhelmed by it all, but I was always able to push forward. I will always shine the biggest smile I can muster and will try to bring the gift of laughter to those around me.
Last semester in college, I suffered through an intense flare up, but not my usual lupus flare up. I tried this new infusion in December/January which helped my pain... but triggered my skin. I was then diagnosed with Chilblain lupus. It lasted for 4 months, and is still in the process of healing. It began breaking up very slowly. Everything was starting to scab though, which was very painful. My mouth was filled with ulcers. I started to walk small distances without a wheelchair because my feet were also slowly healing. It was like I had third degree burns on my whole body. It was truly a nightmare.
No one knew how to help me, until I found Dr. Richard Jahan-Tigh at UT Dermatology in Houston, TX. I cannot thank him enough for the determination he had to solve this mystery. He spent day and night figuring out treatment plans for me, and I was even a case study at one of the conferences he spoke at. He’s truly an angel.
I had a lot of quiet time to think about my life and the patience and perseverance I had learned. I know that life is short and that tomorrow isn’t promised. I promise not to let my disease consume me. I will enjoy and live every single moment on this earth.