Autoimmune diseases are so vast and complex that the thought of wrapping them up into one post is a bit overwhelming. One of the tricky things about autoimmune diseases is that they have a funny way of being unique to their host. For example, two people with Lupus can have an entirely different list of symptoms and ailments based on how the disease affects your body, which is more or less our story.
The term autoimmune basically means your body is attacking itself, and more specifically, Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks your tissues and/or organs.
Because of the range of this autoimmune disease and the inflammation caused by it, lupus can affect a myriad of body systems such as your heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, muscles, skin, brain, and blood.
People can be more prone to develop Lupus, if autoimmune diseases run in their family (like it does in ours), or it can be triggered by a an illness, drugs, etc.
Since there is no cure for Lupus, the main goal is to get the disease ‘under control’ by calming the overactive immune system down, and hopefully, get it to stop attacking healthy organs and tissue.
We are both at a point where our Lupus is a great deal under control (from years of tweaking medication and finding specific regimens that work for us) and we manage and deal with ‘flare-ups’, which are when our symptoms spike for a period of time. Flare-ups can be brought on by not taking great care of ourselves and neglecting to put our health first, stress, and (more likely than anything else) a run-of-the-mill sickness, like a cold, that sends our immune system back into overdrive (just another reason we really hate flu season!).
We are often asked to describe exactly what we feel, because chronic illnesses can be hard to understand and wrap your head around. The answer that feels most simple and rings most true, is it feels like a flu that never ends; extreme muscle aches, nausea, and an overwhelming ‘unwell’ feeling.
Anyone who is dealing with Lupus or suspects they have some form of an autoimmune disease, should make sure to have a good rheumatologist. One who understands the spectrum of the disease, because that makes all the difference.