A Lupus Widower Laments to Friends

By Mr. D.R.
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

So many people have had comments like, "I had no idea Susan was so sick." That was because Susan did not want anybody to know.

Because lupus is such a crafty disease and flies under the general public's radar, this is a good opportunity to clear things up.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, not an infectious disease like HIV. People with lupus have an overactive immune system. The body's defenses actually attack healthy tissue. This has been happening to Susan for 30 years or more.

She was diagnosed around 1990, but she had symptoms way before then. Originally, the disease would manifest itself as flu-like symptoms for about three weeks out of every three months, with fatigue extending a month after every flare-up.

In 2000, lupus attacked her central nervous system and involved her brain. The original result of this new development was pain. From late in January 2000 until the day before she died, she was in pain. On the scale of 1 to 10, there was no day that she didn't feel pain on an 8 to 10 level. (With 10 being all-encompassing.)

Lupus attacked her lungs, causing shortness of breath, sleeping problems, and more pain in the form of pleurisy. In addition to Hashimoto's thyroiditis (causing cold extremities) and Sjogren's syndrome (extremely dry eyes) and a few more isms that I have forgotten, life was getting difficult.