Stephanie J. - Diagnosed Age 25
I was 25 years old when I found out I had lupus. It was first diagnosed as cutaneous lupus, but has recently turned more into systemic lupus.
At first, I thought I had poison Ivy. I had a rash all on my ankle, and then it slowly was showing on my elbow, my forearm, my thighs, my back, and my shoulders. It was never a butterfly rash across my face but my cheeks would get red from time to time. I went to my primary care physician who did blood work and found it was ANA positive, which I didn't understand the meaning of at the time. He told me I needed to schedule an appointment with a Rheumatologist as soon as possible. I did, she ran more blood work, and two weeks later I was given my diagnosis.
At the time lupus only affected my skin, but slowly after I started having chest pains when I would breathe, panic attacks often, horrible joint pain and kidney pain. I was put on plaquenil, which had bad side effects, and then chemo, which I refused to take because of the damage it could do to me. I have two young children who need me to be okay.
I started learning to manage my stress more and for me this helps more than anything, but the downfall is that when the stress does eventually get the best of me I flare up pretty bad. It's a life changing diagnosis, and still in the early phase of my life. I am grateful to not have as many symptoms as others I know have. I try to never let it get the best of me, but when it does its very painful for days.