Friday, February 19, 2010

Lupus

In my travels, I managed to find time to drop off those three boxes of used clothing to the family in need. In addition, I found time to go shopping with my daughter, P. It's great being able to spend time her.

P hasn't been feeling well, lately. While she never really feels good, there are times when she feels worse; this is one of those times. You may have read in an earlier entry that P has Lupus. She is only 34 years old, separated, with 3 hyperactive sons; 2 being special needs children. She has her hands full, to say the least.

Not everyone knows and understands Lupus. So, in case you don't know about it, I'll try to explain it in the simplest way I can.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. Aids and HIV are also auto-immune diseases, but Lupus is not Aids or HIV. Lupus cannot be 'caught' by someone, like a person can catch a cold. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease, that many people have heard of. Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), the rheumatoid arthritis that I have, is also an autoimmune disease; this is a relatively rare disease and mostly unknown to the general public. Lupus is more widely known, but greatly misunderstood by the majority of people I have spoken with.

Lupus has various forms and can affect many different areas of a person's body and organs. Generally, Lupus is not a disease that affects just one part of the body, but rather affects many areas, at the same time.

What most people don't understand is that when a person is affected by Lupus, their immune system turns upon the person's body and begins to kill itself. In easier terms to understand, think of when a healthy person becomes affected by a virus, say a cold virus for example. A healthy person's immune system will create antibodies to fight off the attacking virus; the same happens in the body of someone affected by Lupus. The difference is what happens after the attacking virus has been beaten off. In a healthy person's body, those antibodies that were created to fight off the attacking virus, go back to sleep or die off until they are needed again at sometime in the future. In the body of someone with Lupus, those antibodies that were created to fight off the attacking virus, DO NOT go back to sleep or die off until they are needed again at some time in the future. Instead, those antibodies don't realize that the attacking virus has been killed, so they keep on attacking tissue; healthy tissue.

Left untreated or controlled, and even in some cases where treatment is not effective, the person who has Lupus, can die, because their antibodies keep on killing healthy tissue in organs, etc.

P has been on chemotherapy medication for the last several years, in an effort to keep the disease from progressing. In addition, she has several other medications she must take, daily and some weekly.

The tragedy doesn't end there. Most people don't realize, but in order to have Lupus, a person must be Arthritic. Everytime I look at my beautiful daughter's hands and see swollen knuckles and distorted fingers, think about the several surgeries she has had due to 'trigger finger' and see her wince in pain just trying to use her hands...or her feet, my heart breaks.

Believe me, if I could, I would trade places with her. Oddly, it probably wouldn't make much difference painwise, because AS has many similar symptoms, but is a different disease. One day, I'll tell you more about AS, but not today.

Still, if I could, I would take away this disease that cripples her life. A few weeks ago, her Rheumatologist added another medication that has been making her feel violently ill, to the point where she can hardly function, some days.

Most people don't realize that death can occur at any time, but it can. Flareups come and go, but each one is a real and true danger. Less than one year ago, my ex-Pastor's sister died of Lupus after a dibilitating and lengthy battle with the disease.

In the past, P suffered with cancer; surgery was the tool God used to heal her. Praise God! Thank You, Jesus! I know that God is in control, even when we think things are out of control. Jesus, our Great Physician can heal P, for nothing is impossible for Him.

If you believe in the power of prayer, I ask you to pray for my P. She truly needs as much prayer as she can receive. I thank you for this and pray that God will bless you, richly.


Until next time...