I was diagnosed with Lupus in February 2018. At the time I was in my final year of university taking my semester 1 exams and writing an essay for 2 hours with stitches in my chest from the biopsy (to confirm my diagnosis) wasn’t really my idea of fun.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease which means the immune system is a little confused, it attacks itself and causes inflammation. Lupus affects people in so many different ways and for me, it is my skin.
Exposure to Ultraviolet light triggers the autoimmune response. As an athlete I train outside all of the time, which increases the likelihood of a flare up.
A flare up for me looks like round, raised papules that are raw, red and sometimes scaly, they vary in size and can be quite sore. It affects my face, neck, ears, chest, shoulders and upper back.
Once a flare has settled, I am left with post inflammatory scarring. To help prevent and reduce the soreness of the flares I use prescribed creams and take medication.
The most important preventative measure I can take is to be very vigilant with my sun protection and be mindful of how much I expose myself to sunlight. I have to put on factor 50 all year round and top it up throughout the day. During the summer months, I have to be extra careful and occasionally use an umbrella so I can be in the shade wherever possible. To be honest, I could be so much better at this, but it can be pretty inconvenient. More often than not I wear a hat which does the job. I also try to wear long sleeved and high neck tops, which can get pretty uncomfortable especially when it gets hot.
Before being diagnosed I didn’t really know what Lupus was. I heard of it and that was as far as it went; there was no significant reason for me to research Lupus as no one I knew had it.
As I get used to managing the Lupus and figuring out what works for me the rate of flare ups have significantly reduced. I get my bloods taken a few times a year to monitor the disease, have the occasional test of my kidneys and eyes, as well as the odd GP appointment to ensure all is under control.
I aim to post regularly about Lupus and hopefully spread some awareness! 🙂