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'Lupus is part of my life, not all of it'

(133 ratings)
living with lupus

Living with lupus

Like many people with lupus, I'd been feeling ill for years before I was actually diagnosed. That's one of the problems with lupus; the symptoms are often vague and mimic other illnesses, which frequently confuses doctors. I first became ill when I was about 38. I had extremely severe flu-like symptoms and was rushed to hospital with suspected meningitis.

After this episode I continued to have further symptoms such as night sweats, painful joints and extreme fatigue. I also felt depressed, which is unlike me as I'm normally a really upbeat person.

For about four years, doctors couldn't tell me what was wrong and just prescribed rest. They suggested that I was stressed, or that it was my hormones. I was actually asked if I'd like some counselling as I looked really well, so the GP seemed to think I'd become a hypochondriac. Finally, I was referred to an arthritis clinic, where one simple blood test revealed I had lupus. It was such a relief to know I wasn't imagining it all!

A lot of people with lupus take anti-malarial tablets, which dampen down an overactive immune system. Unfortunately, I'm allergic to them and I didn't want to take steroids because of the possible side-effects. As my lupus is considered mild, I have chosen to control my condition using diet, exercise and positive thinking. I avoid processed foods and do a lot of gentle exercise, like walking. I also know I have to try to keep my stress levels to a minimum to avoid 'flares'.

At the extreme end of the scale, lupus can cause life-threatening organ failure. But in the majority of cases, as long as people are diagnosed early on, there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to live a full and happy life, even with lupus. I'm proof of that!

Angie Davidson, 52, is from East London

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For more information and to find out more about how diet can help your condition, visit www.lupus.org.uk

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