Hi, my name is Debbie Andazola and I have Lupus. Before Lupus, my life was normal. I raised a son, held a full time job, spent time with my family and friends. I was living my life. But now I really must say, life with Lupus is very different and challenging- it's almost like a new beginning.
I was diagnosed in 1992, after a trip to Ireland. That next day after I got home, I couldn't move at all and it was like trying to move a mountain when I tried. I looked at myself, looked at my fingers and toes. WOW, they looked like stuffed sausages! I had this red rash across my nose and checks, it was so strange looking, almost like a sunburn, but it didn't hurt. When my PCP said he thinks I have Lupus, I said, "Lupus!?!? What the heck is that?" I had never heard of that or the word Lupus. So you could imagine all the thoughts going through my mind.
I did my research and got a little scared about it all. But what could I do? I accepted it and learned to live my life very differently. I must have a doctor for every organ in my body..LOL. I've had 7 surgeries and I see my doctors at least 6-7 times a month. The times that I'm the strongest is when I'm having a flare. It takes all my will just to turn over in bed from side to side. You should see me try to walk to the bathroom, I should say crawl!
I think I've accomplished a lot living with Lupus. I still have a full time job and go to work everyday, as long as my Lupus lets me. I'm a Finance Counselor at a wonderful online University. I have a grandson and a brand new grandd aughter. I love to go swimming, which is my choice of excercise. I make sure to wear my sunscreen, especially living out here in Arizona. If I was telling someone this story who didn't have Lupus and didn't know anything about it, they probably wouldn't think it was big deal. It sounds like what most people do everyday...working, swimming, raising children, living your life. But since most of us with Lupus don't look sick, it is a big deal. Everytime I go out in the sun, I risk having a flare, that's a big deal! Each time I'm able to brush my hair without my knuckles hurting, that's a big deal!
I have one special friend who would do anything for me. I'm very thankful to him and my family everyday. I thank God for my Lupus as my life is better because of it. I've come to appreciate life, down to the smallest pebble God created. That's my life with Lupus. Remember, just because you have Lupus does not mean you CAN'T, it means you CAN.