Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hungry Like the Wolf

When I was a Latin Club geek in high school, I learned that lupus was the Latin word for wolf.

When I was 32, I learned that it also means fatigue, light sensitivity, achy joints, temporary blindness and kidney failure.

Yup, internets, I have Lupus.

I promise, I wasn't holding out on you--a lot of you already know anyway. And it just never came up. I had a tiny, brief flare up for a few days this summer, but other than that it hasn't reared its ugly head since early 2008.

Until this past Friday.

I knew something was up. I could feel it.

I slept for hours and hours on Friday. My mouth broke out with sores. My lymphnodes were all swollen--even the ones in my legs and arms. On Saturday, my knuckles were so stiff and sore I could barely open my water bottle. And then the headache kicked in.

This mornng I woke up feeling exactly like I did the morning I was admitted to the hospital for an emergency c-section to deliver Amelia due to pre-ecclampsia. I looked in the mirror and my eyes were puffed shut, my ankles were more like cankles. That's how I looked that day, too.

So, I checked my blood pressure--it was sky high. I laid down for awhile and it came down to a still high but non-scary level.

This likely means one thing. The lupus is picking on my kidneys again. That's what it did in 2008, too. That was fun--Will was in Iraq and I ended up in the hospital in stage 3 renal failure. Luckily, some steroids and a single dose of Cytoxan (a chemotherapy drug, yay) got me back to normal with fully functioning kidneys within a few days.

So, although it kind of sucks--O.k., sucks a lot--it's better than what it did to me twice in 2007. In April and August of 2007 it made me mostly blind. But that was before we knew I had lupus, and I was just an annoying mystery to the doctors (those were the days when, no matter what symptoms I went in with, I was pretty much told that there was nothing wrong with me that losing 100 pounds wouldn't cure. That didn't fly for blindness). In about 24 hours I went from 20/20 vision to needing 5X magnification glasses just to see enough to function (I still couldn't read or drive or see if my dishes were clean). Both times it lasted for about 10 days and then my vision returned to normal. Being mostly blind was awful.

Some other fun things that I have that are attributed to lupus:
  • Raynaud's Syndrome, which is harmless, but it makes my fingers turn extremely white and then blue when they get cold.
  • Extreme sensitivity to sunlight. This has been going on for years, but I just thought I was weird. Bright sunlight is extremely painful to my eyes. I even have nightmares about being in blindingly bright sun and not being able to close my eyes.
  • Arthritis in my hands.
  • Severe neuropathy in my feet, and now it's beginning in my hands. It had always been attributed to being diabetic, and it likely was from that, but now they think it's continuing to get worse because of the lupus. The same way it attacks my optic nerve making me mostly blind, it attacks my other nerves causing numbness, burning and tingling in my hands and feet. If you ever drop by and see Will or the kids beating the crap out of my feet, legs and arms, don't call the cops. They're doing it at my request (and let me tell you, the kids freakin' love it when mommy asks them to slap her as hard as they can). Oddly, it provides relief from the burning and tingling and pins-and-needles sensations that are constantly there.
So anyway, this isn't a woe-is-me post. I'm not looking for your sympathy. It's just that I tell you guys everything, and this is a big something right now, so I figured you should know.

And remember--if I die, the instructions are HERE and HERE. Don't let me down. For real. If Kathy Griffin doesn't give the eulogy I'll haunt every last one of you, and not in a friendly ghost kind of way.

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