According to the Lupus Foundation of America, about 1.5 million Americans have lupus and 9 out of 10 are women. Both patients and specialists agree that this autoimmune disease is “unpredictable”.
“It’s a disability that you cannot describe because the whole thing about lupus is it’s so unpredictable,” says Mallory Dixon, 29.
Mallory is an attractive, petite brunette who sounds both young and determined at the same time.
In terms of the unpredictability of this disease, Dixon explains that it may affect anyone, regardless of their age, race, or ethnic preference. Moreover, the severity of the symptoms varies from patient to patient and the person often experiences symptoms which could not be explained.
Dixon was initially diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, but six years later she was diagnosed with lupus due to the many additional symptoms she experienced. Two years later, she felt so miserable and even unable to breathe that she had to go the hospital and seek medical attention.
“The night before, I was afraid to go to sleep,” Dixon said. “I tried to downplay the pain, but I had the feeling I was dying.”
As a matter of fact, she “technically’ did die arriving at the hospital. Then, the doctors brought her back to life and she remained attached to bed for 86 days. During this period, she fell into a coma, received chemotherapy, spent time on a ventilator, and was even treated with dialysis. It was later found that these symptoms were caused by the lupus which has spread to her kidneys.
“They do think with early prevention we can keep lupus from spreading to organs like the kidneys or in some cases, a patient’s heart or brain,” Dixon said. This is why she believes her most important mission is to “educate young women about what to look for.”
Lupus and The Effect It Can Have on Your Life
According to Sarah Stothers, a national nurse health educator at the Lupus Foundation of America, “debilitating fatigue” is the first symptom. She also lists the following symptoms:
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