(Lauren Harden/ Today’s Parent) — “You have lupus.”
What a diagnosis to receive as a 23-year-old, supposed to be in the prime of my life. I had been working in New York City, living my dream life as a fashion assistant at Cosmopolitan magazine. Those three words made my world come crashing down, and I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life dealing with them.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that has no known cure. My body attacks itself, thinking it’s sick when it’s not—which, in turn, makes it unhealthy. It is chronic inflammation that stays with you for your entire life. Mine manifests as fatigue, swollen joints, and rash all over my face (although most people get the tell-tale butterfly rash across the bridge of their nose).
The causes of lupus are hard to pinpoint, but it’s usually some combination of hormones, genetics and environment, such as UV exposure. (Many people with lupus are sun-sensitive, including me.) So while this was a devastating diagnosis, there was one question top of my mind, even at 23—will I be able to have kids? (…)