Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sharing Your Experience, Strength and Hope with Others

I'm a contributor to the website on the topic of lupus.
I frequently get questions from people asking me to diagnose them- they send me all their lab numbers and want me to tell them whether I think they have lupus.

I guess they figure is manned with MDs or lab techs who are answering these questions in their free (ha!) time, but no, it's usually just folks like me, a fellow patient with a few more years' experience.

And even if I were an MD, I don't think I would diagnose someone over the internet without actually seeing them in person.

Still, I am really glad people reach out for help and write to the website, because it's so important not to just sit at home alone wondering if you're going to be OK while you're waiting for 3 months to see the specialist, in patient purgatory.

Most recently I was asked whether lupus was genetic and whether there were any new breakthrough tests. Here is my response (with name removed):

Thank you for writing.
I'm so sorry for all that your family has endured.

There still isn't really definitive proof that lupus is genetic, but there definitely seems to be a connection to pregnancy and things flaring up.

Regarding tests- I do not know of any breakthrough tests.
But I can tell you if you ever do get definitively diagnosed with lupus, the medical solution will be to suppress your immune system. That will give you relief from symptoms, but as you can imagine, going through life with a suppressed immune system has its own set of problems that come with it.

I don't know about you, but when I developed lupus and my body was turning against itself I wanted to know why, for heaven's sake! All these tests and drugs and diagnoses- but no one could tell me WHY?

20 years later (I was diagnosed in 1993 after 2 years of going to doctors getting one different diagnosis after another until they finally looked for lupus), I have come to believe that my illness was caused by chronic stress and a diet lacking any real nutrition. I drank a lot of diet soda and rarely ate a fruit or vegetable, worked at a job I hated, 6 days a week, and had no time for fun or for doing what I wanted to do with my life. Not a recipe for well-being!

In 2002, I had 2 mini-strokes and was on 9 drugs plus chemo and transfusions to get the lupus problems under control. I am now symptom-free and drug-free. I live a life I love and I eat a lot more real food (I'm not perfect- I do eat chocolate!).

I was tested for delayed food allergies (most regular MDs will not take that seriously), and after I eliminated gluten, dairy, and nutrasweet, all my lupus tests went negative- as in no sign of disease.

So... I'm just one person, but I'm one very healthy person who used to be very sick. In fact I'm healthier than most of friends who don't have lupus! I do aerobics 3-5 times a week (Sweatin' to the Oldies never gets old!)- this is something I only dreamed about when I was hobbling around using a cane, unable to leave the house for a month because I couldn't get up and down the one stair to the outdoors. We can get better.

I wish you well, my friend, and send you love light and hope

Having read and answered dozens of these questions now, I think most people who write in are looking for hope and reassurance, and to know that someone cares.  If you have some of that to offer in any area and are willing to give an hour or so a week of your time, hop on over to and sign up to be an expert. Or join a local support group, or an online chat group, if you have an illness, and be there to help people who have just been diagnosed. You might be surprised what you have to offer a fellow human being who needs a little support.

Carla Ulbrich

The Singing Patient: Author, Humorous Songwriter and Entertainer

_____________ performance  info and dates - funny songs

"I am reading Carla's book How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This? and loving it. I LOVE Carla's songwriting, so I'm not surprised that her prose writing is as smart, funny, and insightful as her music." - Christine Lavin

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