Google+ Badge

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Shadow Of Myself

Those of you who have been with me and my blog know that I sometimes write humorous posts, and sometimes serious ones. Tonight's post is serious, and born of frustration. I want to make sure that everyone who reads this knows that I am not feeling sorry for myself. I am just experiencing a rough time, and I want to share it in the hopes that it may help you understand others who may be in a similar position.

Last December, I spent four days in the hospital with vertigo. It was quite unpleasant; I spent most of my time unable to move at all without vomiting. I left the hospital drained and looking forward to regaining my usual vigor. But here it is, February, and in two months I haven't yet regained my strength. I know what you might be thinking. Katrina should go to see her doctor. I don't want to because I am pretty sure that I know what Doctor Mike will say. You see, I have systemic lupus. I am pretty certain that my illness in December awakened the sleeping giant that has been my companion for twenty-five years.

A lot of people have heard of systemic lupus, but don't really know what it means. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder. The immune system will switch on when it is supposed to, responding to illness or stress, but it doesn't want to switch off. It will then proceed to attack the body. In my case, twenty-five years ago, my immune system tried to kill off my kidneys. I am glad to say that they are still here, and only sustained a small amount of permanent damage. 

Lupus can be very insidious. It will attack any and all systems in the body, from skin to circulatory system, to nervous system, and all others. Some common symptoms of people who have lupus are fatigue and a characteristic rosy coloration, or butterfly rash, of the face that covers the cheeks and nose. This rash gave the disease the name lupus, because the name comes from the word for wolf. Many people liken the appearance of the rash to the face of a wolf. Let me tell you, it can be very frustrating to have this red face! I wish I had a dollar for every time I mentioned that I didn't feel well, and had someone reply in a bit of a snarky tone that my cheeks were nice and rosy. Yes, and they get rosier the worse I feel. It's a good thing I like purple, because when I am really worn down, that's the color my face turns.

And the word fatigue doesn't really do the lack of energy or strength any justice. I remember when I was first diagnosed, and was so weak that I couldn't walk across a room without sitting down to rest. Sometimes I even had to put myself to bed after just accomplishing a small task like loading the washing machine. This is what I have been dealing with since December. If I exert myself very much, I end up spending a couple of days not very far from the bed. I don't have the energy to cook every day like I'd like to. Trent has been very understanding. He knows about the fatigue, but he has never seen me laid this low with it. And since I am a very stubborn, "I can do it anyway" type of person, it has been frustrating to have my body to tell me that no, I can't.

And it has affected me in lots of ways. If I have an errand day, I spend a day or two having to slow down and recover. When we went to Breckenridge with our friends to look at snow sculptures, I spent two days in bed recovering. I even had to cancel a visit to the doctor's office for a blood test because I didn't even have enough energy to get a shower, much less get dressed and get out and about. My blog has suffered as well. I still have ideas for things to write, but haven't got the energy to do do. Instead of writing every two or three days, I am down to about twice a week. I worry about disappointing my readers. I worry even more that they may learn to forget me. I feel like I have turned into a shadow of myself. 

I think we don't realize that we are lucky when things are going more smoothly in our lives. And believe me, I know I could be far worse off. And as I said, I am not feeling sorry for myself. I am just stressed from not being able to be the person I want to be. In my usual fashion, I don't intend to lie down and give up. I will do whatever I can with whatever energy I can muster. Then all of a sudden, one day I will realize that I managed to get through a day without running out of gas. And that I made it through a week without having to spend a day or two recovering from everyday tasks. And I will feel like myself again, instead of just a shadow.