Six years ago, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: a chronic, autoimmune disease wherein the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s tissues and organs. Lupus is incurable; I live with it the rest of my life, but can be managed through maintenance medication such as steroids and Plaquenil ….It scares me to think, however, that I have to depend on them for as long as I live otherwise I would suffer from all the symptoms.
The meds came with side effects; I developed a moon-shaped face and was losing big chunks of hair in high school. I became so vulnerable and short on self-confidence. I had big ambitions, but lupus took them away, that I only thought about getting a college degree sooner than later.
Lupus is a daily struggle. I get up in the morning usually with swollen joints, sometimes in searing pain that I can barely walk. When the meds wear off by the end of the day, arthritis comes back. The pain also shifts from moderate to severe whenever my doctors decide to taper off my meds. Coping with lupus includes painkillers. As much as I maintain a strict diet and do exercise, I cannot control the pain. Unrelenting pain and fatigue barge into my body without a warning. There were times that the only thing I could do was stare at the ceiling before going to bed and wonder if the next day will be less painful.
My doctors monitor my health condition through different lab tests every month….kaya nasanay na rin ako sa injection. Besides preparing for exams and reports for school, I also had to prepare myself for lab tests. Kakabahan na nga ako sa mga midterms at finals, kakabahan pa ko sa resulta ng lab tests.
Keeping up with school was grueling – heavy workload and pile of readings – but I tried to excel in my classes as much as I could. I did it to maintain my scholarship grant all throughout college that would help cover my medical expenses. I also did it because I wanted to prove something to myself and to those who see me as weak. Mama did not want me to continue with my schooling, but I felt the need to pursue the only goal I had left for myself back then.
This battle pushed me beyond my limits. I did not let lupus define nor consume me. I have filled myself with passion and determination to do things that I can still do. Living life may not be that easy, but I see every day as an opportunity to grow, learn, and accept the love and care of those around me.
I am truly grateful for my family and friends who were there for me and who never treated me like I’m a burden. Mama never gets tired of taking care of me and looking for alternatives to make me feel better; my best friend for constantly being my rock and for understanding everything that I go through. I appreciate my Dream Team friends who always got my back and would sacrifice their time to go with me for my monthly check-up. I am just so thankful to all those I’ve met along the way. You all lift me up ? God is so good, He reminds me all the reasons not to give up and helps me see that there’s still so much to be thankful for!
AB International Studies
Major in Development Studies, Minor in Gender Studies