“A” is for Awareness

As I mentioned before, I am taking part in the Blogging from A-Z April 2013 Challenge. So, for Day “A” I couldn’t think of a more fitting topic to be inspired by than Lupus Awareness!

The other day Prince Charming & I were laying in bed watching TV and the subject of Keanu Reeves came up. Mainly because I said that the line in “Friends”…”you weren’t believable as a human being”, was something that I am sure the writers heard someone say to Mr. Reeves. And then naturally the conversation took a turn that required me to get online to confirm that Christopher Reeve had a different last name than Keanu Reeveand was no relation. In the process of that absolutely ridiculous search, I ran across an article that was titled “Christopher Reeve is was an a**hole”. I’m almost ashamed to admit that my initial reaction was to laugh…and then go to the link. There were a couple more things in there that made me laugh, again almost ashamed that they caused me to laugh…hard. But, the gist of the post was that  Superman was an a**hole because he didn’t help bring about paralysis & spinal injury awareness until after his injury. My first thought, “Well, that pretty much makes everyone an a**hole because you don’t care about stuff like that until you care about stuff like that.”

Prince Charming’s mom died of a heart attack more than 20 years ago. One of the first things he told me when we were dating was that heart disease is the number one cause of death among women…a fact that I already knew being born with heart disease and all, but the amount of people who don’t know it is shocking!!! He didn’t know that before his mother died. And why? Because it didn’t matter to him before that day. I mean, when I was younger and did Jump Rope for Heart, it was because it mattered to me. The reason that every other child in my class took part in it was because it got them out of a spelling test, or math class. I didn’t care about Lupus before I had it. And I don’t feel guilty about saying that…and I don’t feel guilty for only trying to raise awareness for it after I was diagnosed. And I don’t begrudge anyone else who tries to bring about awareness of something that they knew nothing about until they were living it. My thinking behind it is, as long as the party is successful who cares if it was a surprise or not?!

With all that being said, let’s get down to some learning about Lupus, with the help of The Lupus Foundation of America!!!

Facts about Lupus

What is Lupus?

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs (“foreign invaders,” like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues (“auto” means “self”) and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.

Lupus is unpredictable and potentially fatal. A disease in which the immune system is out of balance, causing inflammation and tissue damage to any organ system in the body, including the joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, blood, blood vessels and skin. The health effects of lupus may include heart attacks, strokes, seizures, miscarriages, and organ failure.

Currently, there is no single laboratory test that can determine whether a person does or does not have Lupus.  It may take months or even years for doctors to piece together evolving symptoms to accurately diagnose Lupus.

Lupus is not infectious; you cannot catch Lupus by coming in contact with someone who has the disease!!!

How many types of Lupus are there?

There are 4 types of Lupus:

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: this is the most common form of Lupus, symptoms can vary in rage from mild to severe, and is what most people are talking about when they are referring to “Lupus”.
  • Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus: this form of Lupus is skin related, it usually is a red, scaly, non-itching rash…it also can be the “butterfly” rash that stretches across the nose to the cheeks, making it look like a butterfly.
  • Drug-induced Lupus Erythematosus: pretty much just how is sounds, a lupus-like disease caused by certain prescription drugs.
  • Neonatal Lupus: a rare condition that affects infants of women who have lupus and is caused by antibodies from the mother acting upon the infant in the womb

It’s important to know that while 10% of those with Cutaneous Lupus do develop Systemic Lupus, it’s most likely that they already had Systemic Lupus and the rashes & sores caused by Cutaneous Lupus were symptoms of Systemic Lupus.

Drug-induced Lupus is most commonly linked to the drugs hydralazine (used to treat high blood pressure or hypertension), procainamide (used to treat irregular heart rhythms), and isoniazid (used to treat tuberculosis). Drug-induced Lupus is more common in men because they are prescribed these medications more often, where Systemic Lupus is more prevalent in women. Unlike Systemic Lupus, Drug-induced Lupus rarely affects major organs & the symptoms will go away after the medication is stopped. *NOT EVERYONE TAKING THOSE MEDICATIONS WILL DEVELOP LUPUS SYMPTOMS OR DRUG-INDUCED LUPUS*

Neonatal Lupus symptoms…rash, liver issues, low blood cell counts…disappear after a few months and normally do not have any lingering effects.

What causes Lupus?

That is a WONDERFUL question…and one that really can’t be answered. There is no gene that has been proven to cause Lupus. You can be the first in your family to develop Lupus, or you can have a long family history of it. You don’t have to be a woman to develop Lupus, but women make up more than 90% of all diagnoses. Lupus is more common in African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, but being Caucasian doesn’t prevent you from developing it.

Here’s what hasn’t been a known cause of Lupus (yet):

  • geographical location
  • artificial sweetener
  • environmental pollution
  • chemical toxins
  • diet

Here’s a few things that can trigger a Lupus flare:

  • exposure to the sun
  • an infection
  • exhaustion
  • anything that causes stress to the body, such as surgery, physical harm, pregnancy, or giving birth
  • emotional stress, such as a divorce, illness, death in the family, or other life complications

So there’s a little bit, and believe me…it’s just a little bit of information, about Lupus. You can find this and more by visiting The Lupus Foundation of America. And if you’ve got the time, visit The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation‘s website.

Today’s post brought to you by the letter:

Day "A"

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8 responses to ““A” is for Awareness

    • Thank you Paula! I fully believe laughter is the best, well one of the best anyway because sometimes morphine really is the best medicine. But laughter is right there with it. 🙂

      I am very sorry to hear about your friend. I think that’s one of the hardest things in trying to get people to understand. Because it is such a difficult disease to diagnose, a lot of times playing catch up on the damage is just futile.

  1. Did you write about me 😉 I did not care about lupus until I was diagnosed in 2004. I soon have my 10 year anniversary and though I have to take my meds, my lupus is in remission. Awareness is the key to get people to understand illnesses like lupus – so many people think you’re not ill if one can’t see the illness from the outside.

    • I am so happy to hear that you are in remission! That is just absolutely wonderful!!!

      And it’s hard for people to understand also because they don’t realize that there are a few prescriptions that are given to treat the side effects of the drugs that we have to take because of Lupus. So, from the outside looking in it looks like we are exaggerating or just down right lying about what our battle with Lupus is like. Not to mention that 9 times out of 10, that “gorgeous” color on my cheeks is actually the butterfly rash and it’s there because I’m in a flare. :/

  2. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. And you are right, how could Christopher Reeve know he would be passionate for a cause until it was part of his life. I have MS, but would have never dreamed of doing the MS walk until I had a reason to walk.

    • Yeah, I thought it was extremely crappy of him to base someone’s character on something like that. I mean, it would have been different if Christopher Reeve would have been a negative influence when it came to raising awareness, but to base it on when he started to help raise awareness is just wrong. You can’t be passionate about raising awareness for anything until you are affected by it.

      It’s like you said, the MS Walk holds meaning for you because you have MS…so sorry to hear about that…and now you are one more person who is talking about MS and advocating for people who battle for it everyday.

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