Veronica M. - Diagnosed Age 20
When I was in high school, I could sleep for 18 hours a night and still take a nap when I got home. I would constantly become ill and end up leaving school early, which my family and community saw as laziness and delinquency. Little did they or I know, I would be diagnosed with lupus just 2 years after I graduated.
I was sent to an alternative school my senior year of high school so I could graduate on time due to failing grades as a result of missing so much school. From vomiting, to rashes, to aches and pains so bad I couldn't get out of bed...I was scared. I didn't know what was wrong with me, and blamed myself. I thought, "Maybe this is my mental health manifesting itself physically.”
After months and months of falling ill and ending up in the emergency room week after week, my primary care physician decided to check my ANA (antinuclear antibody) levels, and they were off the charts. After all this time, I might see some answers. I was sent to see a rheumatologist and from there, I was diagnosed with lupus relatively quickly after just 3 months of seeing her.
I still suffer from symptoms, as lupus is still widely misunderstood and unknown, and there aren't many treatment options available. I hope to someday live in a world where I can be cured of lupus and live my life freely.
Currently, I work at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, the #1 Renaissance Faire in the USA. I'm living my dream as a professional actor, musician, and dancer. But it does come with a cost. There are still days I can't get out of bed, and this past summer of 2019, lupus forced me to take a year off from the place I love the most; Bristol. With contributions from generous donors and an open heart and mind, I have faith that I will live to see a day where I can return to Bristol and my love for the arts.