Rupus and Me

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I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I'm sitting and staring at this document, trying to make sense out of the thoughts that are floating in my mind. Imagine two trains colliding head on at full speed. Visualize kicking through the debris, picking out the survivors, and then trying to rebuild a working engine with the wounded as your staff. All of your parts are bent, all of your workers incoherent. That's where I am. Making sense of my train wreck. Hard to figure out where to start. I can't start at the beginning because the parts are scattered. Can't start at the end because that's not here...yet. Not sure if where I am now is the middle or what.

I may have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, or taking in consideration Life's recent track record in the Let's Screw Over Julie competition...both. Symptoms point to both. If that's the case the disease combo is referred to by some as Rupus. At least it's a cool name. The illnesses are not so cool.

Up until recently I never thought of rheumatoid arthritis as anything other than a form of joint disease similar to osteoarthritis. Most of you think the same, I bet. Fingers have swollen joints, those joints are red, maybe hot, and people may end up with deformed joints/hands. What I didn't know was that R.A. can attack in 'flares'. The fun bouts of the disease cause you to feel like someone has beaten the pure living hell out of your body, then sapped every bit of your energy. In fact, R.A. is so similar to Lupus in symptoms that you may need blood tests to determine which disease you have. Oh, or you can have both which is, as I said, where I might be in life.

How'd I get to here? Did the Rupus Fairy decide to pay me a visit one night? If so, I have something for that bitch.

No one knows what causes R.A. or Lupus. Both can be inherited, though your chance of developing either isn't significantly higher if you have a relative with the disease(s). The risk does rise if the relative was close, like a mother or aunt. I know my mother had R.A., but looking back at many of her symptoms, I'd be willing to place a hefty bet that she had undiagnosed Lupus. There were no explanations for her many infections, strange rashes, loss of hair, and chronic fatigue. All are classic Lupus symptoms. There were other things and looking through it all in my mind's eye, I believe she suffered from Lupus and that if she had been diagnosed, she may be alive today. MAY. A diagnosis can't change how you take care of yourself.

I've had weird, seemingly unrelated issues going back to 2000. Discussing them with my husband, we can now see a link. Autoimmune diseases can attack the gastrointestinal system - in 2000 I began having stomach pains that we later found to be gall bladder related. Even before that I would sometimes have a shooting pain when breathing deep. Fast forward to 2005 - full body rash with no explanation. High white blood cell count, but no apparent infection. Anemia. Recurring rashes, sometimes painful, sometimes itchy. 2007 - gall bladder surgery and septicemia. 2009- hands hurt when cold. 2010- knuckles on the right hand go red.

October 2010 until March 31st 2010 was fucking stellar in the Julie's StressOmeter Competition. My mom dies, Bean was born, I very nearly screwed up two large book projects and wrote the books one handed, my landlord turns out to be a douchecanoe, and I think I had gas at least 5 times. Good times.

Life sort of begins to get better around Christmas. A bit before that, I notice my left hand's knuckles are going red. Then, out of the blue, I felt like a truck hit me and the truck's driver must have been an energy vampire. I truly felt like I was too tired to do anything. Fun fact: that was a mild flare. I had no idea what it really felt like to be sapped, yet. That lasted about a week, if that. Then January 2012 comes to call and holy...pain. everywhere. Tired? I was so at the end of my energy a few days ago that I could not type. Literally, I was too exhausted to move my fingers over the keyboard. Each individual finger had no energy left.

I became so worried by the fatigue that I did go to the ER a few weeks ago. I described my symptoms and the very first thing out of the doctors mouth was asking about R.A. and Lupus in my close family. Then she had a vampire pop in to draw more vials of blood than I've ever given out for free. Something called an ANA was positive, but "You need more in depth blood testing to confirm if your results indicate rheumatoid arthritis  or systemic lupus erythematosus. You have indicators for both." Hey, let's get on that, I'll pull out my trusty health insurance card and we'll...oh, wait, I don't have one of those. (Yes, I will be getting insurance-already on it)

I joined a Lupus forum to learn more. While reading I came across another set of symptoms: depression, mood swings, anxiety, and something called 'brain fog'. All of those are things that I've been experiencing (and subjecting others to) with a frightening surge in frequency. Some of you that know me well may be familiar with me forgetting things quite a bit lately or losing track of a conversation. A few might be familiar with me flying off that handle over trivial things. Today was the worst...I screamed at my best friend of 12 years over nothing. My husband is the person that bears the brunt of the extreme agitation I experience...and I hate it. He's so supportive and always has been, even when I ask him something 50 times. (In case you are wondering, I did apologize to my friend and I know it didn't make up for it, but I tried to get her something special as a "I'm sorry I suck" gift.)

The point of this post is...I'm terrified of what is ahead. I don't say I am scared of things, because, well, I'm not scared of much. This is not an enemy I can look at in the eye and say, "Bitch, I'm about to fuck your world up". First off, I don't make declarations when fightin' is about to commence. It's a Southern thang. Everyone else is running off at the mouth, you just take each varmit to the woodshed for schoolin'. This enemy is my own body. That is frightening when your own body decides to take you to the woodshed.

I'm lucky compared to many people that have or may have these diseases. My first doctor saw the symptoms and knew what was going on. Others spend decades trying to find out what is happening to them. All I need is confirmation so I can receive proper medication, though based on side effects I have chosen to use as many vitamins and natural remedies as I can. Until I can't. Really, there's only one thing left for me to do and that's to say something to the Rupus Fairy.

Bitch, I am about to fuck your world UP.