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Diane E. Robertson - Author, Speaker, Instructor
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Click here to add text.GUIDEPOSTS MAGAZINE – Februa05
His Mysterious Ways - More Than Coincidence
Written by Diane E. Robertson

My lupus had flared up and I was in terrible pain. The doctor had put me on a powerful anti-inflammatory. Still, I could barely walk. My husband, Sal, was overseas on business and my parents lived a thousand miles away. “Come on home,” my dad said. “We’ll take care of you.” Mom’s chicken soup and a warm bed sounded like the perfect cure. Now I just had to get through the flight there.
A friend drove me to the airport and dropped me at the curb. I stepped out of the car. Pain shot through my lower back. I winced. “Are you okay?” my friend asked. “Fine,” I said, not wanting to worry her. The skycap offered me a wheelchair, but I wasn’t comfortable sitting. Maybe it would be easier to walk to the gate.
“Your flight’s been delayed for an hour,” the skycap said. An hour? Another hour of agony. I walked slowly through the terminal. God, I prayed, I need a place to lie down for an hour. Some place to rest.
That’s when I saw the ladies’ room. If I splash some water on my face, I’ll feel better, I thought. Imagine my surprise when I stepped inside and saw an old-fashioned lounge area with a long mirror, a dressing table and a couch. I sank down. The last thing I saw before I closed my eyes was a bit of graffiti on the opposite wall that read, “I love Jimmy.”
An hour’s rest on that couch, and I was able to make it to my parents’. Ten days of bed rest under their care helped immensely. I flew home in much better shape and Sal picked me up at the airport. Walking down the terminal, I was going to tell him about the couch when we came to that same ladies’ room. “Excuse me for a moment,” I said.
I darted in. There was the long mirror, the dressing table, even that familiar bit of graffiti: “I love Jimmy.” But no couch. An attendant was cleaning so I asked if she’d changed things around. “No, no,” she replied. The lounge had always been set up this way.
There had never been a couch in here. Except the one hour when I desperately needed it.




GUIDEPOSTS MAGAZINE – February 2005
His Mysterious Ways - More Than Coincidence
Written by Diane E. Robertson


             The lupus had flared and I was in terrible pain. The doctor had put me on a
         powerful anti-inflammatory. Still, I could barely walk. My husband, Sal, was
         overseas on business and my parents lived a thousand miles away.

              “Come on home,” my dad said. “We’ll take care of you.”

             Mom’s chicken soup and a warm bed sounded like the perfect cure.
         Now I just had to get  through the flight.

             My friend, Mary, drove me to the airport and dropped me at the curb.
         As I stepped out of the car, pain shot through my lower back. I winced.

             “Are you all right?” Mary asked.

             “I'm okay,” I said, not wanting to worry her.

             The skycap offered me a wheelchair, but I wasn’t comfortable sitting.
         "Maybe it would be easier to walk to the gate," I told him.

             He shook his head. “Your flight’s been delayed an hour.” 

             Oh no! Another hour of agony? I  inched through the busy terminal, leaning
         on the wall for support. Lord, I prayed, I need a place to lie down for an hour.
        Some place to rest.

             That’s when I saw the ladies’ room. If I splash some water on my face,
         I’ll feel better. Imagine my surprise when I stepped inside and saw an old-
        fashioned lounge area with a long mirror, a dressing table and a couch. I sank down.

             The last thing I saw before I closed my eyes was some graffiti on the
         opposite wall. It read, “I love Jimmy.” 

             An hour’s rest on that couch, and I was able to make it to my parents’ home.

             Ten days of bed rest under their care helped immensely. I flew home in
         much better shape and Sal picked me up at the airport. Walking down the
         terminal, I was about to tell him about the couch when we came to that same
         ladies’ room.

            “I'll be right back,” I said. I darted in. There was the long mirror, the
         dressing table, even that graffiti: “I love Jimmy.” But no couch.

             An attendant was cleaning so I asked if she’d changed things around.

             “No, no,” she replied. "The lounge has always been set up this way."

             Amazing. There had never been a couch in here. Except the one hour
         when I desperately needed it.


























WHAT IS LUPUS?    


    Lupus is not cancer. It is not related to AIDS, and it is impossible to contract from another person. Lupus is an autoimmune disease. A healthy body’s immune system fights foreign substances, such as germs and viruses. However, in the person with lupus, the immune system cannot distinguish between foreign substances and its own cells and tissues. The body reacts as if it is allergic to itself.

The Lupus Foundation of America (L.F.A.) estimates that two million Americans have a form of this disease. In the United States, lupus is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans than in Caucasians. Studies suggest that 16,000+ Americans develop lupus yearly.

    There are three main types of lupus:

    Systemic lupus erythematosus (S.L.E.) is the most common form. Systemic implies that one or more organs may be involved. Symptoms extend from marginal to life-threatening.

    Discoid lupus erythematosus affects the skin. A red butterfly rash may appear across the nose, cheeks, or elsewhere.

Drug-induced lupus is triggered by medicine. Symptoms are generally mild, and usually disappear when the medication is stopped. This type of lupus is most common in men.

    The major symptom of lupus is inflammation. This can be characterized by pain, heat, redness, swelling and involvement of the skin, joints, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys and brain. Every lupus sufferer reacts differently to the illness. Some people experience fatigue, low-grade fever or swollen glands.

    This chronic illness is difficult to identify, and frequently mistaken for other diseases. It is called The Wolf because symptoms may mysteriously appear one day and vanish the next. Besides the indicators mentioned in the previous paragraph, this elusive affliction also makes its presence known via chest pain, hair loss, numbness in fingers or toes from cold or stress, sun sensitivity, low blood count, depression, inability to concentrate and memory problems. Other warning signs include mouth sores, seizures, hallucinations, repeated miscarriages and unexplained kidney problems.

    No one knows what causes lupus, and anyone may get it. Sometimes it runs in families, implying it may be hereditary. More women than men are predisposed to lupus, suggesting it may be hormone-related. If you think you have it, explain your symptoms to a doctor. He will perform a complete physical examination and do laboratory testing of blood and urine. No single test can show that you have lupus.

    If you learn that you do suffer from this illness, it is important to follow up with your health care team on a regular basis, even when the disease is quiet, and all seems well. There is no cure, but in most cases, lupus can be managed. For many, it is a mild disease affecting only a few organs. For others, it may cause serious, even life-threatening, problems. However, most people can expect to live a normal lifespan.

    Dealing with a chronic illness may present a real trial to you. Because you look healthy, your family, friends, and coworkers may forget that you are really sick. Whether yours is a mild or severe case, lupus is certainly a life-altering illness. The majority of people who suffer with it have limited energy. For some, depression may be a consequence. It can be discouraging to lack the stamina to play with your children, maintain a job, enjoy your home and perform some activities.

    There will be times when you will not want to do much. Lupus fatigue is not the regular tiredness that normal individuals have, but an overwhelming exhaustion that often keeps one from performing even minor physical activities. Learn to manage your good days wisely by balancing proper rest, moderate exercise, and good nutrition. Keep in close contact with your doctor, and dialogue with him/her during office visits. It helps to write out your questions and concerns on paper before your appointment so you can clearly communicate them. Listen to your body and learn to pace yourself. Reduce stress in your life as much as possible. Set priorities, and stop before you’re exhausted. Remember that fatigue is part of lupus.

Even if you take medication for lupus, there may be times when the symptoms become worse, causing a flare. You may feel exhausted, suffer joint pain, or some other discomfort just before the flare. If you recognize the signals, go to bed immediately and rest. It can make a tremendous difference.

When you feel better, become involved in social activities. It’s great for your health to laugh and have fun. Consider joining a lupus support group where you can share your feelings and be among people who understand your physical challenges. You will see that you are not alone in your struggle, and others can help you to stay positive. You will also have the opportunity to become better educated about the illness.

    The prognosis for people with lupus is more optimistic than it has ever been. Human Genome Sciences, Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC teamed together in search of a cure. On April 20, 2010, they announced that they were anxious to file for FDA approval later that year.

    The results of two crucial Phase 3 trials of BEN-LYS-TA™ in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus were favorable. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended belimumab (Benlysta®) for approval as a treatment for lupus in 2011 and the drug is now currently available for treatment of this disease. It is believed that BEN-LYS-TA has the potential to become the first new approved drug in more than 50 years for people living with systemic lupus.

    While living with lupus can be a challenge, it is possible to enjoy a satisfying and productive life. Be kind to yourself. Allow caring people to love, nurture and encourage you. View each day as a blessing. Small wins are important.

    For further information, contact the Lupus Foundation of America at www.lupus.org. They may also be reached by telephone at 800-558-0121 or 202-349-1155. 





**************

Diane E. Robertson
is the author of 4 books
& has published
100s of stories & magazine articles
(see PORTFOLIO page).
She is also a workshop speaker,
editor & creative writing instructor.

COMING APART won 3rd prize
in the movie-of-the-week category
of the nationwide TV-ME! 2013 contest,
administered by the Sarasota County Film Commission.