Irmak K. - Diagnosed at age 15
Although I was unaware of it until I was finally diagnosed last summer after two years of pain and uncertainty, at the age of 15, my life actually changed a lot. While living as a normal and seemingly healthy teenager, being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder such as lupus can sometimes become a turning point. My symptoms started about two years before I was diagnosed. I've been trying to cope with a lot of internal pain, from joint pains to extreme fatigue and discomfort in my kidneys. At that time, I was practicing ballet for eight hours a week and enjoyed it very much, but my pain had come to a point that sometimes I was not able to walk due to inflammation in my joints.
When I first told my parents and my instructor about my discomfort I was hit by offensive and insensitive comments such as, “So like… are you in pain? You seem fine to me.” “Why are you always tired? You used to be so energetic.” At this point, I started questioning myself, although I should have been questioning the people around me. Phrases like "Am I really exaggerating? Maybe I'm just tired," were constantly in my mind, forcing me to doubt my pain. I was going from hospital to hospital, doctor to doctor, but no one could figure out what was wrong with me. One day I woke up with chills and a high fever. I couldn't get out of bed, the pain in my joints was at its peak. I wanted to move, but the pain was so great that I couldn't resist it. I cried for my father and he immediately took me to the hospital. As my body shivered, I looked at my hands and felt numb. After that day, I spent almost a month in the hospital. Numerous tests were done and I spent hours in MRIs, but all of this was inconclusive. Following the uncertain weeks, one day the doctors came and said that I had internal bleeding, but they did not know where it was originating. They referred me to another hospital right away, and that referral was the point where my life was no longer the same. I was diagnosed with lupus after a two-year process. I had been through the toughest few months of my life and they were telling me that the process had just begun.