Patti R. - Diagnosed Age 28
Before I was diagnosed we had a miracle baby boy in 1987. Throughout my life I was sick a lot and in 1991 I began experiencing extreme fatigue, sensitivity to the sun/different lighting, fevers, joints hurt and swelled, sores in my nose and mouth, seizures, butterfly rash on face, and rash on my chest. However after going to my doctor I was told there was nothing wrong with me, after many doctors that was the theme message for the next 4 years – only added to that was, it's all in your head, your just a hypochondriac. This was so frustrating because my husband started believing what they were saying.
In May of 1995 I was put in the hospital and was assigned a new PCP doctor in Nashville – that is when the diagnosis of SLE was made. Upon discharge we went to see my doctor in her office. She really broke it down, what she knew about lupus, how long I would be on medication and the main thing there was no cure. We were relieved to find out what was wrong with me but also devastated to find there wasn't a cure.
I got very depressed and have struggled with depression over the years. Since my diagnosis I have had many ups and downs. We lost 3 babies, 2 daughters and a son. I became disabled in 2004 at the age of 38. I lost my husband suddenly in 2009 – he was my caregiver and was amazing. I've been struggling ever since especially now that my son is a Traveling RN.
My faith in God, my online lupus support groups, telling my story and writing to several women in prison, 4 of which have lupus is what keeps me going. It would be so easy to just give up but that is not who I am. I have a job to do and that is to do whatever I can to advocate about lupus. I was featured twice in the Lupus Now Magazine and once in the Esperanza Magazine. Where I live there is two people with lupus and I talk to them all the time. I think we can all do our part and it doesn't have to be anything huge, wear the lupus bracelet, wear purple, tell your story to whoever will listen.