My story – by Yvonne from the Netherlands

On 6 July 2004, I woke up with a tremendous pain in my right hand. Because I also had a slight rash, my GP immediately referred me to a dermatologist. He examined me and referred me to a rheumatologist because he had a hunch what might be wrong.
Fortunately, my rheumatologist was not only very friendly, but she also immediately knew what to look for. I gave blood and a urine sample and after a few weeks I got the answer.

It turned out I really had a disease, but whether that made me any wiser? I had Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. What sort of disease was that? Had anybody ever heard of that? I got a leaflet explaining what lupus is, what it is like to have it and what the symptoms can be. I started reading the leaflet, but chucked it away halfway through. I suddenly dawned on me that I had a chronic illness, an illness that couldn’t be cured. That I would never get better, that things would only get worse and that I might even die from it. I really didn’t need to see all that confirmed in a leaflet. However, after a couple of days/weeks, I picked up the leaflet again and started reading it in a different way. Although it listed all the things that could be affected, this mostly didn’t apply to me at all, so things seemed not too bad after all. Okay, I had lupus, but with the right medication I could live with it.

After a couple of months, I gradually returned to work. I was still processing all the new information and trying to accept the fact that my body was betraying me. Especially in the first few years, I fought against myself and my body. I was constantly testing my boundaries and crossed them fully and forcefully, refusing to accept the fact that there were certain things I was no longer able to do, or not in the same way as before. I was determined to show my body who was the boss! Painkillers are wonderful: I took at least two a day at first and up to 11 later on. They allowed me to go on/work as usual until I could no longer cope even with those 11. I had to admit defeat: my body had won again. I had to recover at least three weeks before I could gradually return to work. This fight took a number of years but eventually the penny dropped and I managed to find my balance. Especially when, after four years of being subborn, I thought I didn’t need sun protection and had another flare-up as a result.

Acceptance is hard, in particular because your body sometimes seems 40 years older than you are. Accepting that your body is betraying you is a kind of grieving process: you say goodbye to the body you once had and have to get used to another body instead, one you don’t know yet. You don’t know what to expect and that takes time. I was lucky that I was able to keep my two jobs, with some adjustments.

Eight years after being diagnosed with lupus, I had a mild heart attack. Was there a connection with lupus? Yes, posssibly.

Two years after this, I ended up in hospital again following months of terrible stomach pains without any clarity about what caused them. I had a very bad year with three bowel infarctions. Apart from being a lupus and heart patient, I was now also diagnosed with APS. Yet another set-back with major consequences – I have been declared fully incapacitated for work – but also a new challenge.

Looking back on the past few years, I know that I have changed, that I have had to give up a lot, but also that I more often put my own interests first. Some people find this selfish.  Going out for an evening during the week? As little as possible, because I can’t cope with that anymore. It is only possible if I rest a lot in the days before and after. Getting up early? Only if strictly necessary; I really do need my sleep and rest. Going to a party? Only if it is really fun and I really want to go. Otherwise I don’t think it is worth the trouble of going to bed early an entire week in advance and spending the next day flat on the sofa.

So I make more conscious choices. In retrospect, the wheelchair, which I refused initially, gave me a lot of freedom. I wish I had accepted it earlier. I can’t work anymore. That is a pity, but at the same time it also a relief. No longer having to get up while not 100% fit and doubting whether to report sick (again) or try and go to work. Now, such a day is simply a day on the sofa. Unfortunately, this also means I sometimes have to disappoint people, that some people don’t understand and that I have lost “friends”. But am I unhappier now than in 2004, when I thought I was healthy? I don’t think so.

I live differently and more consciously. I am more aware of my body and of the choices I make and how the disease fits into my life. I know who and where my friends are. I have eliminated people who have not been there for me from my life. Of course I am sometimes angry or sad, exceed my boundaries and ask myself “why me?”, but that is okay, that is only human. I am happy with my way of life. I have been able to give lupus a place in my life. I have learnt to listen to my body and to realise that my body is usually calling the shots. Even if I have an incurable disease, this does not mean that I won’t live to 100 and that I can’t enjoy life.

I am who I am. I am Yvonne and I have a chronic illness: lupus/APS.

Translation: Petra Bernards

Yvonne is a member of NVLE – Nationale vereniging voor LUPUS, APS, Sclerodermie en MCTD

NVLE-logo600dpi

 

 

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2 days ago
LUPUS EUROPE

#lupus is a #raredisease that affects nearly 500,000 people in Europe. Furthermore, there are over 300 million people who live with a #raredisease in #europe.

Today, along with Rare Disease Day, patient organisations around the world advocate for equity for people living with a rare disease

#ShareYourColours and help us spread the word by liking and sharing. Remember that you can also download the material of the official campaign on the website

rarediseases.org/
... See MoreSee Less

#Lupus is a #RareDisease that affects nearly 500,000 people in Europe. Furthermore, there are over 300 million people who live with a #RareDisease in #Europe.

Today, along with Rare Disease Day, patient organisations around the world advocate for equity for people living with a rare disease

#ShareYourColours and help us spread the word by liking and sharing. Remember that you can also download the material of the official campaign on the website 

https://rarediseases.org/
2 days ago
LUPUS EUROPE

Today is rare disease day!

🚨 There are over 300 million people who live with a #raredisease in #europe.

🌎 Today, we join our fellow patient organisations that work towards a better life for people with rare diseases and their families.

🔴 Some facts about #RAREDISEASES:

1️⃣ There are more than 6000 identified rare diseases.

2️⃣ Rare diseases currently affect 5% of the worldwide population.
The true impact of rare diseases is much wider, however, with those affected in Europe in the millions, as the disease affects not only the patient but also our loved ones.

3️⃣ 72% of genetic diseases are genetic, although #lupus is not one of them.
👉 Lupus is not a genetic disease. Although it is very much related to genes, there are other factors that play a role in its manifestation.

4️⃣ 👶Neonatal #lupus is a rare congenital disorder that some infants of mothers with lupus and anti-Ro/SSA and/or anti-La/SSB antibodies develop.
The most serious complication of neonatal lupus is a heart condition known as congenital heart block.

5️⃣ Having an early diagnosis is key to having access to the right treatment. This has an impact on physical and mental health and, therefore, on the quality of life.

Along with organisations Rare Disease Daye DayEURORDIS-Rare Diseases Europeurope, we will carry on working towards an early diagnosis, access to treatment and equality for #raredisease patients 🙌.

Thank you for your support on this #RareDiseaseDay!

#rarediseaseday2024 #ShareYourColours
... See MoreSee Less

Today is rare disease day!

🚨 There are over 300 million people who live with a #RareDisease in #Europe.

🌎 Today, we join our fellow patient organisations that work towards a better life for people with rare diseases and their families.

🔴 Some facts about #RareDiseases: 

1️⃣ There are more than 6000 identified rare diseases.

2️⃣  Rare diseases currently affect 5% of the worldwide population.
The true impact of rare diseases is much wider, however, with those affected in Europe in the millions, as the disease affects not only the patient but also our loved ones.

3️⃣ 72% of genetic diseases are genetic, although #lupus is not one of them. 
👉 Lupus is not a genetic disease. Although it is very much related to genes, there are other factors that play a role in its manifestation.

4️⃣ 👶Neonatal #lupus is a rare congenital disorder that some infants of mothers with lupus and anti-Ro/SSA and/or anti-La/SSB antibodies develop. 
The most serious complication of neonatal lupus is a heart condition known as congenital heart block. 

5️⃣ Having an early diagnosis is key to having access to the right treatment. This has an impact on physical and mental health and, therefore, on the quality of life. 

Along with organisations Rare Disease Daye DayEURORDIS-Rare Diseases Europeurope, we will carry on working towards an early diagnosis, access to treatment and equality for #RareDisease patients 🙌.

Thank you for your support on this #RareDiseaseDay! 

#rarediseaseday2024  #ShareYourColoursImage attachmentImage attachment+2Image attachment
3 days ago
LUPUS EUROPE

🌟 𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗩𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘀: 𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗮𝗿𝗘𝗥𝗡 𝗣𝗮𝘁𝗵 #𝗟𝘂𝗽𝘂𝘀 𝗦𝘂𝗿𝘃𝗲𝘆 🌟

🦋 Each journey with lupus is unique, yet there are shared paths: the initial confusion at the first symptoms, the quest for a diagnosis... But we know every lupuERN RECONNETs the power to initiate change.

🤝 ERN RECONNET and Lupus Europe have collaborated on the RarERN Path #lupus project, aimed at capturing and understanding the patient experiences across Europe.

Your story is crucial to reshape and enhance the care and attention we, as lupus patients, receive.

📢 𝗪𝗲 𝗡𝗲𝗲𝗱 𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗩𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲❗

If you're living with lupus 𝗶𝗻 𝗘𝘂𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗲, your participation is invaluable.

By sharing your patient pathway, you can contribute to a larger effort to understand how people experience the condition, their pathways and ultimately, to try and improve healthcare services.

🔗 𝗔𝘃𝗮𝗶𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝟭𝟰 𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗴𝘂𝗮𝗴𝗲𝘀:

🇩🇰Danish: bit.ly/SLEStories_Danish
🇳🇱Dutch: bit.ly/SLEStories_Dutch2
🇬🇧English: buff.ly/3uExnRz
🇫🇮Finnish: bit.ly/SLEStories_Finnish
🇬🇷Greek: bit.ly/SLEStories_Greek
🇮🇸Icelandic: bit.ly/SLEStories_Icelandic
🇮🇹Italian: bit.ly/SLEStories_Italian
🇱🇹Lithuanian: bit.ly/SLEStories_Lithuanian
🇵🇱Polish: bit.ly/SLEStories_Polish
🇵🇹 Portuguese: bit.ly/SLEStories_Portuguese
🇪🇸Spanish: bit.ly/SLEStories_Spanish
🇸🇰Slovak: bit.ly/SLEStories_Slovak
🇫🇷French: buff.ly/3IfuJVf
🇩🇪German: buff.ly/3IfHf7e

Your story can lead to significant shifts in lupus care. Let's come together to make a difference. Your experience, your opinion, your struggles, and your triumphs can help shape a better future for all lupus patients across Europe.

𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗼𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗿𝗼𝘄❗
... See MoreSee Less

🌟 𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗩𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘀: 𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗮𝗿𝗘𝗥𝗡 𝗣𝗮𝘁𝗵 #𝗟𝘂𝗽𝘂𝘀 𝗦𝘂𝗿𝘃𝗲𝘆 🌟

🦋 Each journey with lupus is unique, yet there are shared paths: the initial confusion at the first symptoms, the quest for a diagnosis...  But we know every lupuERN RECONNETs the power to initiate change.

🤝 ERN RECONNET and Lupus Europe have collaborated on the RarERN Path #Lupus project, aimed at capturing and understanding the patient experiences across Europe.

Your story is crucial to reshape and enhance the care and attention we, as lupus patients, receive.

📢 𝗪𝗲 𝗡𝗲𝗲𝗱 𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗩𝗼𝗶𝗰𝗲❗

If youre living with lupus 𝗶𝗻 𝗘𝘂𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗲, your participation is invaluable.

By sharing your patient pathway, you can contribute to a larger effort to understand how people experience the condition, their pathways and ultimately, to try and  improve healthcare services.

🔗 𝗔𝘃𝗮𝗶𝗹𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝟭𝟰 𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗴𝘂𝗮𝗴𝗲𝘀:

🇩🇰Danish: https://bit.ly/SLEStories_Danish 
🇳🇱Dutch: https://bit.ly/SLEStories_Dutch2 
🇬🇧English: https://buff.ly/3uExnRz 
🇫🇮Finnish: https://bit.ly/SLEStories_Finnish 
🇬🇷Greek: https://bit.ly/SLEStories_Greek
🇮🇸Icelandic: https://bit.ly/SLEStories_Icelandic
🇮🇹Italian: https://bit.ly/SLEStories_Italian
🇱🇹Lithuanian: https://bit.ly/SLEStories_Lithuanian
🇵🇱Polish: https://bit.ly/SLEStories_Polish
🇵🇹 Portuguese: https://bit.ly/SLEStories_Portuguese
🇪🇸Spanish: https://bit.ly/SLEStories_Spanish
🇸🇰Slovak: https://bit.ly/SLEStories_Slovak
🇫🇷French: https://buff.ly/3IfuJVf 
🇩🇪German: https://buff.ly/3IfHf7e 

Your story can lead to significant shifts in lupus care. Lets come together to make a difference. Your experience, your opinion, your struggles, and your triumphs can help shape a better future for all lupus patients across Europe. 

𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗼𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗿𝗼𝘄❗
3 days ago
LUPUS EUROPE

🚨 Tomorrow is #RareDiseaseDay!

🙌 Let's show our support to all those organisations that, like us, work every day to improve patients' quality of life.

🔊 Share the officiRare Disease DayDay campaign video and help us raise awareness of the importance of an early diagnosis, equitable opportunities and access to healthcare.

#ShareYourColours

buff.ly/49NLliU
... See MoreSee Less

🚨 Tomorrow is #RareDiseaseDay!

🙌 Lets show our support to all those organisations that, like us, work every day to improve patients quality of life. 

🔊 Share the officiRare Disease DayDay campaign video and help us raise awareness of the importance of an early diagnosis, equitable opportunities and access to healthcare.

#ShareYourColours 

https://buff.ly/49NLliU
LUPUS EUROPE Uniting people with Lupus throughout Europe
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