In 2009, when I was 19 year old, I had the hardest pregnancy I’d ever heard of. I could barely keep any food down, I was losing weight every week, I’d get light headed and dizzy every time I stood up and I was exhausted all the time. At 37 weeks, they diagnosed me with pre-eclampsia, and my son was born at 4lbs 8.4oz. When I went in for my yearly women’s health screening almost a year after having my son, I was told I had ‘lupus antibodies’ in my blood and that I needed further testing. Over the following 6 years or so, it was a rollercoaster of doctors telling me, “you have lupus,” and then other doctors telling me, “no, it couldn’t be lupus.”
Finally, in 2016, I found a rheumatologist that officially diagnosed me with systemic lupus and fibromyalgia. Since then, I’ve also been found to have accompanying Raynaud’s and Antiphospholipid Syndrome, which is a blood clotting disorder. Throughout my ordeal I’ve survived 13 surgeries, many anesthetic diagnostic tests, 4 strokes, internal bleeding resulting in a blood transfusion, and more medication changes than I’d ever care to remember. Despite all the heartache and havoc that these diseases have brought upon me, I hold onto the laughter of my son and the love of my family. I smile in the face of adversity and whisper, “I will bend, but never break.”
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.