Tammie H. - Diagnosed at age 29
My journey with lupus began in 2006 while I was pregnant with my second daughter. I went in for a routine test and I came back with a lupus diagnosis. I felt like my world came crashing down around me and did not know what the future would hold for myself or my unborn child. I was referred to a rheumatologist and had another test done for confirmation. Turns out, I did not just have lupus, but also rheumatoid arthritis. Later, I found out I also had graves’ disease which was treated with radioactive iodine, and now I have a hypothyroid. I got a triple whammy with now three autoimmune diseases. At first, I did not experience any symptoms of lupus other than getting rashes from being outside for too long. I never would have thought it was lupus, but just a weird rash I got from the sun.
Fast forward to now, I have good days and bad days. It takes almost two hours for my hands to not be so stiff in the mornings. Each new day is like a new adventure or game of "what's going to hurt today?" It is hard to walk long distances without feeling some pain in my hip (an old Army injury). My hands get very fatigued when I do dishes, hold pens/pencils, stir my dinner, and so on to the point where I drop things.
I get the "butterfly" rash often and especially when I am outside for too long. I stay out of the sun or wear really big hats. The joints that are mostly affected are my hands, feet, and knees but mostly hands. I also get dry eyes and a dry mouth at times. Fatigue hits me like a freight train and I just have to stop what I'm doing to rest. Lastly, when someone asks how I am doing, it's just easier to say I am fine.
My hope is that lupus will be talked about more in the medical world and that you do not have to struggle alone. Not every disease is visible. It is okay to practice self-care even if that means you just made it from the bed to the couch.