You don't look sick...
Strong and Resilient
At the age of 14 I began dealing with a new complication of SLE and that is Nephritis. Lupus Nephritis is a Kidney disorder and it affects 3 out of 10,000 people; however, in children with SLE the statistics go up to 50%. What happens is that the Lupus begins to attack healthy kidney tissue causing inflammation of the kidney. When this happens protein begins to pass through the kidney tissue and cause scarring. Severe scarring of the kidneys cause them to eventually shut down.
While this is happening however, there are no real symptoms. You don't feel sick at all, there are no warning signs; I didn't feel anything I felt great. (When and if this continues untreated some people may develop high blood pressure or swelling in various parts of the body). I had a really good doctor and she was thorough; she took nothing for granted, and she was able to see the spilling of protein in my urine.
I had my first Kidney biopsy at the age of 14. In fact, the Nephrologist who did my first kidney examination and biopsy is still my doctor today. He is an awesome doctor, who genuinely cares about his patients; he's like part of my family.
The biopsy came up positive for active Lupus Nephritis and again I was given steroid therapy to quickly bring the Lupus under control. I thought, here we go again, something else, I'm so tired of this already, but I also braced myself for the fight.
My mom was a single parent, and I was always so conscious of her labor and hard work for her children; making sure we had what we needed, and alot of times, what we wanted was her life's work. So I always thought it was my responsibility never to allow her to see my physical and or emotional pain. I kept my feelings to myself, locked-up alot of times and when I felt I was about to burst I would journal or pray and by the next day I would be okay. Yes on the outside I looked fine, but there was so many things going on inside of me, I often felt if I let a little out I would never be able to gather myself together again.
As a result I began to develop what's referred to as an eating disorder brain, which is, I became fixated on my weight and how I looked in an effort to control my world. As a way of gaining my power back I began exercising excessively and really controlling what I ate. I had seen what an eating disorder could do, I had a friend that battled it (she won by the way and is a blessing to my life still).
Thankfully my mom began to notice a change, and though she couldn't really put a name to it, what she began to do is not allow me the opportunity to feel sorry for myself. She challenged me and pushed me and I was required to take charge while she was at work. As another precaution she told my rheumatologist of the change in my diet and habits very nonchalantly as to not make me feel embarassed and my doctor prescribed some vitamins and also a Lupus support group; I had a great support system in the both of them, those two worked together tirelessly to keep me healthy.She never saw the disease in me and always taught me that I can do anything that I put my mind too (I'm sure she doesn't even remember, but I remember that day like it was yesterday).
Ironically this is when I found my love for the kitchen and cooking and that phase was short-lived. At 32 I can truly say that I'm an awesome cook and I'm responsible for most of the holiday family meals. I was never given the opportunity to be subject to a full blown eating disorder and I was never allowed to feel sorry for myself, for this I thank the Lord for the mother He has allowed me to be born to. She has shaped most of who I am, not perfect but strong, resilient, and willing to put up a good fight; face my challenges.