I've gotten the stomach flu twice since getting lupus and lost 3 weeks to it. i was in the bathroom for a week both times, and shaky and wornout for the next 2. and let's just say i'll never eat chocolate chip ice cream again.
I don't know if our immune system is really stronger, as is suggested by some doctors (those with immune systems having "hyperactive" immune systems) or if it's just confused, and going after the wrong things.
Columnist Dr. Paul G Donahue, MD, says "Lupus isn't a blood disease. It is more like an illness, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It's one of those many illnesses where the immune system turns against its own body. It produces a slew of antibodies — immune system grenades — and tosses them at many organs."
Most people in alternative medicine would say our bodies are overloaded with toxic stuff - chemicals pesitcides, colorings, etc. That are now part of modern life (autoimmune disease rates have tripled in the last 4 decades, so i don't think it's genetic!)
So, grenades. Good metaphor. Maybe it's like the war on terror. While we're distracted fighting in Iraq (lupus/ attacking our own healthy tissue because it's been infiltrated by foreigners), other terrorist cells (cells! ha!) are sneaking around in other parts of our bodies wreaking havoc. Sadly i don't think you can win a war on terror. Best we can hope for is a tenuous peace, which is the same we hope for with lupus. i'd love to eradicate it, but i think the best we can hope for is a long deep or even permanent remission.
so why do i think we get sicker longer with things like the flu? well for one thing, out defenses are down if we're on immune suppressants such as prednisone, plaquenil, cellcept, etc.- IOW most of the drugs that are thrown at lupus. If not the drugs, then the war on terror theory. Like an army stretched too thin, our T cells can only be in so many places at once, then it runs out of resources. Maybe a combination of both.
Those in alternative medicine suggest, and my experience has borne this out, that reducing irritants helps lessen symptoms as well as reduce the needed amount of meds to control lupus and other autoimmune diseases. It is commonly suggested to go on either a gluten-free, yeast-free, or low-fat vegan diet. My 18 months on the Candida diet, I felt great and I was my ideal weight. I fell off the wagon, and while I try to at least limit my gluten intake, it really needs to be a completely gluten-free diet to make any difference.
Jenny McCarthy has just released a book about her experience healing her son from Autism. His autism set in the moment he received a large dose of multiple vaccines, and over the course of several years on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet (watch for hidden dairy and gluten in many products), and much unconditional love, he came out of it and is now a loving, outgoing child. The Center for Disease Control dismisses her amazing story as "anecdotal." Anecdotes are where breakthrough science begins, if it is sincerely interested in healing (and not controlled by those who want to sell us drugs and vaccines). Jenny refers to her son's autism as both "autism" and a "vaccine injury," and while she hesitates to say he is healed, because she feels that his autism could be re-triggered by environmental and dietary toxins, she does say he is recovered. A tenuous peace.
I believe we can find a tenuous peace with lupus and be on few or no drugs. But we have to be willing to make some tough choices and be disciplined about our diets, and to experiment a bit 'til we find what works for us. It's hard work (who wants to give up pizza?), and some folks are going to think you're crazy. But in my experience, being sick is hard work, even more people think you're crazy (hypochondriac anyone? lazy? all in your head?). And it sucks a lot more.