...But is it?
As my dear pop said, “Our family got an early Christmas present this year.” Make that two presents, but they weren’t without their weeks of worry first. I thought I’d take a minute to explain my blog absence and share our joy with you. Here’s how our emotional journey played out:
1 week before Thanksgiving: I have a doc appointment. I’m seeing a new doc and after only ten minutes with her, she sees a pattern that my previous doc missed (based on a false positive on a syphilis test combined with my rare miscarriage). She suggests I see a specialist and get tested for *gulp* lupus.
2 days later: The specialist is booked through the end of Feb., so I start by seeing my regular doc. Per the specialist’s request, he gives me the regular lupus test.
The day before Thanksgiving: My regular doc calls to say I have lupus. As you can imagine, this was painful news to hear. Note: Two years ago to the day, my mom was in the hospital having her cancer tumor removed. Odd.
The Friday after Thanksgiving: I’m discussing the news with my family, and telling them that at least we aren’t in the place we were two years ago (with Mom’s cancer). Compared to that, this seems easy. People can live healthy lives with lupus, and we’ll get through this. They don’t seem as convinced.
The following Monday: Speaking of Mom’s breast cancer, she has a mammogram to check and see if everything is clear. Unfortunately, it is not. She has markings called calcifications which have a 40% chance of being cancerous. No! We just got through saying how relieved we were to have the pain of cancer treatments behind us and this news hits. It just isn’t right. And we’re angry. Scared and angry.
One week after Thanksgiving: Mom has a biopsy to remove the calcifications. We have to wait until Monday for the results. The longest four days ever!
In the meantime (sometime during all of this): The specialist finds out I have a positive diagnosis for lupus and manages to fit me in.
THE Monday: Mom calls in the afternoon. The conversation starts something like this:
Me: Hello (with the little breath I have)
Mom: Benign, benign, benign! (Music to my ears)
Mom’s okay. What a scare. What a HUGE relief!
That Wed.: I see the specialist. The first thing he tells me is that my doc, the one who diagnosed me with lupus, did the wrong test. I guess there are two types of ANA blood tests for this disease, and he did the sensitive one that will often come back positive when lupus isn’t there. The specialist tells me I may not have lupus, but he proceeds with the examination. Turns out I have many of the symptoms and it’s in my family, so he seems less hopeful that I don’t have it, but he sends me for more testing.
A week later (last Wed.): I go back to the specialists. At this point I’ve had time to research lupus and I’m pretty freaked out. It can prevent you from having children. It can cause organ failure. It can be very difficult. And I’m scared. He asks how I’m doing. I tell him I’m not in a place for small talk and to please read the results...
Negative, negative, negative!
He says I do not have “active lupus.” I guess there’s a chance it’s in remission, which means it won’t show up in the testing. Because of this, I’m supposed to be tested every six months. But for now, I’m delighted to say, I do not have lupus.
Whew! Did you see that? Two very scary bullets just flew our way, and I’m thrilled to say that we managed to dodge both of them. As Pop said, Christmas came early for our family. These are incredible blessings, and I’m so very thankful.
I know you don’t need a moral to this story, but I have to say that health is such a finicky thing. Please don’t take your good health or the good health of others for granted. As I was reminded of again this past month, everything can change in an instant.
And for those of you dealing with your own health scares right now, please try to find strength in your family. I made the mistake of keeping many of my fears to myself, which turned me into a basket case. I went from “this will be fine” to “I’m dying” in a matter of days. Talk to others and seek support. Don’t feel like you’re a burden. They love you and want to be there for you. Thank you to my dear friends and family, who were there to lift me up when I needed it.
Here’s to good health this Christmas and all year through. Cheers!