Thursday, October 20, 2011

Great Resource for Lupus info and Support

On October 8, I attended and performed/ spoke as The Singing Patient for the Lupus Summit in Charlotte, NC.

Room full of Lupus Thrivers and their loved ones

I had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of other fabulous lupus patients, and I was doubly impressed. First of all with the patients, and second, with this incredible chapter of the LFA.

The patients. Lupus patients are real survivors. The indignities we tolerate are too many to mention. The chronic pain, the years of being told we're imagining our problems, the disfiguring side effects of the drugs, people telling us we are sick because we have sin in our lives, or they ask weird questions like "isn't that AIDS?".. or they suggest that maybe we'll get better if we get pregnant (never mind that I wasn't married when someone suggested that, and I certainly had no energy to raise a child, AND it turns out pregnancy can actually trigger lupus or make exiting lupus worse- UGH!).

This is a chronic disease, so we're looking at a lifetime of more of these indignities.  It's one thing to survive a plane crash, or any other event that happens in an instant and then is over. That is remarkable and worthy of celebration. But it is another thing entirely to survive day after day and year after year of struggle with illness.

That kind of struggle changes you profoundly. And hopefully for the better. And this, if you survive it all, can make you into a very interesting, strong person, often with a twisted wicked sense of humor. And that is what I love about my fellow lupus patients. The strength, the resolve, and the humor. We are true survivors.

These are the kind of people I met at the Lupus Summit. Women who have been abandoned by loved ones, who have survived multiple miscarriages, stroke, organ failure, and more, and who have often gone on to make their lives better because of these difficult events.

The LFA Piedmont Chapter. 

with Christine John Fuller

When I first went to a support group in 1994, I was depressed by it. It was full of people who were in pain, unhappy, and had no hope. And the moderators shut down any talk of alternative medicine, or even working through emotions. All we could talk about was prednisone and disability lawyers. Thankfully, I decided to look elsewhere, because I did not want to end up in a wheelchair getting all my bones replaced after settling for prednisone as my only course of action. And I found a lot of things that helped me to get back off the prednisone and stay well.

And now, all this time later, I'm happy to say that support groups have changed a lot in 17 years. I'm particularly impressed with the open dialogue, the talk of self-care and dietary changes, and the responsibility I see patients taking for their lives. We can get our dignity back, and reclaim much of our health.

The Lupus Summit is ridiculously cheap- only $15 to attend!! and happens annually in Charlotte, NC. And if you're too far away to attend, you can watch videos of many of their presentations online for *free*. They are archived here (my talk will be archived here eventually, too):

Kudos to Christine and Elaine for running a stellar chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America. You are making a difference, and I hope other chapters will follow your fantastic example.

with Elaine Neilson
Carla Ubrich, The Singing Patient - health coaching funny medical songs