Saturday, December 28, 2013

Remember: You have Lupus!

I have had a congestion of the head and chest for the last two weeks. I took Mucinex DM and aspirin, thinking I would get better. After all, I HAD to be better for the family to be here on Christmas Eve, and my daughter had come home from CA and we were very busy with her, too.
I kept spiking a fever. I took more aspirin. I kept feeling congested. I took more Mucinex DM. Yet, this congestion never went away.
Finally, with Christmas Eve over, I woke on Christmas morning with a funny feeling.....Reality. The congestion was getting worse, not better. And my fever had shot up.
I told my son he had to take me to the ER. I needed some "big guns" to kick this stuff.
Off we went, and I was seen right away. Chest x-ray and blood samples taken; I couldn't give a urine sample and realized I hadn't urinated after the night before. Told them. They hung a bag of saline solution and soon they were back with the results of my x-ray and blood work.
I was very dehydrated. Very. Even though I drank water like a fish; the meds I was using had dried up everything, but not gotten rid of the mucus.
Diagnosis was bronchitis. My old friend had reared its ugly head. As a child, I spent every winter with a vaporizer under my tented sheets, and missed winter break; got well just in time to go back to school.
I should have recognized the symptoms.
I should have gotten help sooner.
 I should have known better. 
But Wonder Woman prevailed throughout the holiday season; the planning, the cooking, the decorating, all accompanied by labored breathing and the promise to myself that "I will be better tomorrow."
The eternal optimist.  By the time I got to the ER, I was mentally kicking myself, and I more or less told the doctor, "For two weeks, I kept thinking I was going to get better."
He looked at me kind of thunderstruck. This woman had toughed it out too long before getting help. I shrugged. That's the way I am.
Well, not any more.
From now on, I'll kick that optimism to the curb, and deal with reality. The reality is, I have lupus.
The reality is, I have diabetes. My blood glucose had shot up to unbelievable levels, and then tanked in the middle of the night. That should have been a clue.
My reality is, my joints hurt. I also have RA, and most of the time, it's not too much of a pain, but my hands were swollen and hurting; could be a lupus flare, too.
So, this is my promise, in public: I will no longer be delusional in the thinking that "I will be better tomorrow." I will contact my primary care physician earlier than two weeks of symptoms, when her office was closed, of course, for the holidays.
Now, I feel really stupid that I waited so long before getting "big guns."

I should have recognized the symptoms.
I should have gotten help sooner.
I should have known better. 
So, this is my pledge to all the lupies who read this:
I will recognize when I'm keeping the symptoms more than a couple of days. 
I will get help a lot sooner.
I will look back on this experience and realize I should have known better.

Lupus just ain't any old condition. It disguises itself in so many ways, I don't recognize it when it appears. I'm not Wonder Woman.
And if you ever read on this blog that I have slipped back into my old habits of denial and optimism, please send me a pithy comment or two.
I need it.