Allow me to back up a little bit, because I didn't go from terrified to triumphant in 60 seconds. It took a couple of years and some monumental life changes.
"No children" would resonate in my mind almost daily. As well as, "who would really want to be with such a flawed, broken woman?" I had someone, but did he really want, let alone deserve, a life of limits and extraordinary challenges? To be an eternal caretaker? After all, even I wanted to run away from it all. My self worth as at an all time low, my personal stock market was crashing. Lupus was winning, but much to everyone's surprise, yet as promised, I gave it a swift kick in the nuts and turned my frown upside down...eventually.
Remember that boyfriend that was compassionate enough to help me off the toilet? And eventually out of the tub, down the stairs, into the car and into bed when I couldn't myself? He was a really good guy and still is. None of the news I received was enough to scare him away. He stood by me and did his best to assure me it would all be alright. He had been my other half since I was 15. But like I said, things were changing, I was changing. After much heartache, it didn't pan out for us...thank God. I'll explain.
After being in such a long, exclusive relationship that commenced at such a young age, the freedom of not being in one was a bit intoxicating. Not that I was sport dating, I wasn't, it was just a completely different way of life for me, that was exciting and seemingly limitless. I had no time to think about being sick. I was too busy having different adventures and for the first time in my life, living on my own. You might expect someone who was diagnosed with an often crippling chronic disease to be terrified to be alone. Not me. I was done being paralyzed by fear. This was the first of many challenges I presented to myself. If I could do this, I could do more. And I did. :)
Admittedly, I did get a bit cocky. Similar to a straight A high school student who goes wild in college the moment they get a little freedom, I got myself into a little bit of trouble. I was feeling so good, I started doubting I even had lupus and that whatever "it" was, was now long gone. I stopped taking medication, was staying out late, drinking too much, smoking a little bit and leaving the sunscreen home. Enter lupus with a humbling uppercut. Nothing too harsh, just a not so gentle, stiff and swollen reminder that it was still there and could bring me to my knees if it really wanted to. I needed to take a different approach, but all I knew was how to take a pill... or three. So that's how I went on for a little while. Taking the meds, acting more like a "good" girl and keeping my fingers crossed lupus lay dormant. It was unnerving, that feeling of being totally out of control and at the mercy of some THING. It was no way to live a "long and happy life" and I longed for some sort of enlightenment, a eureka! moment that would once again enable me to feel like I owned my body, because at this point I didn't. Then, I got a gift.
The day I met my husband is probably the most important day of my life. (And I'm not just saying that because I just spent way too much money on a pair of shoes) Craig introduced me to alternative medicine. Now, don't get all weird on me here, I'm not about to preach and tell anyone to throw out their prescriptions. I'm just a regular person, who kept an open mind and chose to venture down a road less traveled. Now, some might say I only went down that road because the "tour guide" was cute and I was smitten, but that is neither here nor there. ;)
Anyway, after learning I had lupus, Craig brought me a book on natural healing to look at. You've seen it I'm sure, a big bible type book filled with a blurb on every ailment you can think of that lists foods, herbs and supplements that are beneficial to said ailment. My immediate reaction, I will admit, was: "that's very sweet, but come on, this isn't a boo boo." Of course I never actually SAID this, but I was thinking it. Then he told me of his father's fight with prostate cancer and how he cured himself without conventional medications, but with a purely alternative approach and nutrition. It was an unbelievable story coming from a completely believable guy. My interest was definitely peaked, but I still didn't know him well enough to conclude if he and his family were, how shall I say, "crunchy" or if this could actually work for someone, let alone for me. By nature, my first instinct was always to be skeptical of all things, but I was crushing pretty hard on this (younger) guy and what do you know, my mind suddenly became WIDE OPEN. And this was my gift...not the book, not the new boyfriend, not even the inspirational story about someone beating the big C, it was the gift of an open mind. More than any prescription, homeopathic remedy or balanced diet, an open mind has been by far the key ingredient in my recipe for getting and staying healthy.
I have a lot of stories to tell you. They are of great successes and epic failures. Stories that span about 10 years now of trial and error in my personal quest to "one up" the unwanted tenant that resides inside me. Over these years I've learned you make no headway in a black and white world, the real answers lie in the often overlooked shades of gray. It's amazing how well opposing belief systems can work in tandem. I make no claim that I've "figured it out", only that I've figured it out for me. It does stand to reason though, since I am not an extraordinary person, that what works for me, may also work for someone else. And it is because of that reasoning that I'm letting complete strangers into my formerly clandestine life with lupus. If all this babble helps even one person, I'll never regret a single word.
So let me tell you about the first time I saw a homeopathic nutritionist...that was some weird sh*t. Effective, but the open mind REALLY came in handy. I will elaborate...next time.