By Karin Gelschus
Regardless of the type of diagnosis, your world is forever changed. It’s a massive learning curve, figuring out how to manage your chronic illness and cope with your new normal. For me, as the newness of it all subsided, I was able to refocus on areas that drove my previous life – family, friends, exercise, and work. However, I couldn’t seem to keep lupus from creeping up on my everyday activities.
The typical 3 o’clock slump turned into me falling asleep at my desk. A previous attack of blood clots had damaged my lungs, leaving me breathless after 5 minutes of running. Minor indigestion spiraled into coughing up blood and a trip to the ER. What had been nothing out of the ordinary before lupus had turned into challenges that were and still can be difficult to overcome.
After one particularly long day, I lay awake in bed thinking about all the things I struggled with or couldn’t do at all anymore. My dire thoughts swirled above my head as I stared at the ceiling with tears silently streaming down my cheeks.
Feeling incredible alone, I called my sister. She reminded me that I had 22 years of being Karin without lupus, and I have plenty of characteristics that never left.
Here are several personality traits lupus will never take from me:
My ability to…
1. Yell and cheer at the TV when my favorite baseball team, the Minnesota Twins, are playing
2. Sing loudly when Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Down on the Corner” plays on my iPod.
3. Melt when my three-year-old niece yells my name and runs into my arms when I visit.
4. Laugh uncontrollably every time my puppy lifts his paw to give me a high-five – his latest trick.
5. Not take life so seriously when my friends and I have dance parties.
6. Jump when I’m reading a good book and someone comes in the room and accidentally scares me.
7. Compete at everything I do whether it’s board games or intramural softball.
8. Smile when my boyfriend surprises me with my favorite flowers, lilies
9. Look forward to and get excited for every vacation and holiday.
10. Love with all my heart those who are a part of my life and there for me day in and day out.
My sister reminded me that I am still Karin – not Karin with lupus. I am the same sister, friend, aunt, co-worker, classmate, granddaughter, and person I was before, and THAT is what lupus will never ever take from me.
What characteristics do you have that your chronic illness can’t take from you?
Karin Gelschus was diagnosed with lupus at 23. She currently works as an interactive marketing specialist at CaringBridge, a nonprofit providing personal websites that connect people experiencing a health challenge to their family and friends.
For more on this topic, visit the WebMD Lupus Community.