We all experience little things with our health or our bodies that we either completely ignore or rationalize in our mind that nothing is wrong. Looking back, I had little signs that something might be wrong up to a year prior to seeking medical attention. I never realized these little things went together in anyway and they were so minor, seeing a doctor never crossed my mind.
It all seemed to begin within a few months of a very nasty virus that kept me off work for a week. The virus hit in February.
A few months later, I noticed that my lips were chapped all the time and it was summer. This was very odd for me, but I never thought it was a medical issue.
Within the next few months, I noticed that my cheeks, chin and nose would turn red at the same time everyday. Very strange, but not a real problem. As time went by, the redness would come and go more frequently. I also noticed itchy, light purple patches on my hips.
I started to think I had developed a food or detergent allergy. I changed soap brands and began eliminating food items to see if the problems would go away, but they just continued to get worse.
The first time I considered going to the doctor was when I began to notice issues with my muscles.
I had been working out for about an hour almost every day for several months when I suddenly began to experience extreme muscle soreness in my thighs. I should not have been sore at all at this point.
My doctor was out of town when I called to schedule an appointment so I had to see a different doctor in the practice. By this time, I had muscle pain and the rash had become almost constant. The rash had also spread down my neck, onto my scalp and onto my eyelids.
The "substitute" doctor assured me I was suffering from a seasonal contact allergy and prescribed a topical steroid for the rash but nothing for the pain. The steroid ointment didn't do much to alleviate the rash and nothing for the pain.
After a few weeks, I called the doctor's office again and again was unable to see my doctor. This time I saw a different doctor from the first visit. He also assured me this was an allergy issue. His solution was two steroid injections and a steroid dose pack.
Within a few days I felt great. He was right! It is an allergy!
After the injections and the dose pack wore off, all the symptoms returned.
Frustrated with my doctor's office and the fact I could not even see my own doctor, I scheduled an appointment with my mom's doctor. I was scheduled to see the Nurse Practitioner since I was a new patient.
My first decision prior to this appointment was to think about every minuscule little thing going on, no matter how minor it seemed, and tell the Nurse Practitioner.
I don't even remember everything I rattled off other than the rash, the muscle pain and my tongue feeling like it was coated with something. I just know it was a long list and when I was done, the Nurse excused herself for a moment.
Within 30 seconds, the doctor was in the room. She went back through my extensive list and checked me over pretty thoroughly. Once she finished, she asked, "Have you ever heard of Lupus?"
I had and for the first time I was scared.