I think the most difficult part of this disease is, indeed,…day by day, you never know what you’re gonna get.
Flare. “I’m having a flare.” What in the blue hell is a “flare”?
You know when your knee gets all wonky when the weather changes and “flares up”? That sucks and is very aggravating. For people with lupus, it can mean so much more, and is likely that the “flare up” can last from days, to weeks, to months…even years…at a time. Added, that knee pain? You can also put it into your fingers, wrists, elbows (for me, to a lesser degree), hips (not for me) and ankles.
Why does it happen, these “flares”?
Beats the blue hell outta me, frankly….but the more I research, the more I see generalities that exist, and certain conditions that exacerbate or further aggravate the chance for your body to flare up. Unfortunately, what specifically causes them are about as hit or miss as WHEN they’re likely to appear. Again, there ARE generalities. For me? Definitely stress. It’s a sure bet. Other “causes”? My doctor and I have our suspicions, but really….you can’t pinpoint a “start date” on this thing.
So how do you know when you’re going to have a flare? Here’s a standard list:
1. Out of proportion fatigue. I personally call it “bone crushing exhaustion.”
2. Persisten weakness. I don’t just drop things (which aggravates me to no end)…lifting a hair dryer just friggin’ SUCKS.
3. Aching all over. Think, “flu”. Now extrapolate that over several days. Fun times.
4. Fever. I’ve never measured this on myself. I really don’t care. I have more debilitating things going on.
5. Involuntary weight loss. I wish.
6. Increasing hair loss. Dude, I have 5 kids, if THAT don’t make yer hair come out in handfuls….
7. Nose bleeds. Not for me.
8. Unexplained skin rash. Oh I’ve got skin rash…butterflies are only beautiful as a species. Not on my face. When a flare is coming on…my face looks like I’ve been slapped by a Mac truck.
9. Painful, stiff or swollen joints. I love this one…it’s like they actually separated each one. Try lumping them together.
10. Shortness of breath. I have mild asthma, so I have no idea clinically; however, I do use my inhaler more frequently during a flare.
11. Persistent, unusual headache. Good lord, I’ve got 5 kids, remember? Not sure if it’s an effective “here it comes” for me or not….
12. Nausea or vomiting. I don’t vomit (nice); however, there are some flares that I constantly have that “first trimester” feeling. Which is not possible. If it was, someone’s getting sued.
13. Abdominal pain. YAY!! I don’t have this one!! *eyeroll*
14. Puffy eyelids. Really? I think I’ll take “Pain/Swollen/Aching joints for $100, Alex” before using “puffy eyelids” as an indicator.
15. Blood in urine. Um, no….thankfully. Why is this here? Why no snide comments? Because you need to Google the effects of lupus on internal organs such as the heart and kidneys. Scary. Shit.
Thankfully, because people with lupus have “flares”, that also indicates that there are “remissions”. The bad news? It can be weeks, months or even years for them to occur. THEN, you will be back to the part where you won’t know how long it will last.
So, how can you prevent a flare? *laughs hysterically*
Rephrase: So, how can you TRY to prevent a flare?
– “physical and emotional rest”….I will obtain physical and emotional rest when the outer rings of Saturn co-align with the 4th moon of Jupiter and Timmy DOESN’T fall down the well.
*why is this so hard? Because you feel like you’re being lazy as f–k, and that people are judging you on this appearance of laziness*
– aggressive treatment of infections. Why? Back to definitions, friends…lupus is an auto-immune disease! Infections can be…well…really REALLY shitty to existence.
-exercise. But don’t ASK if we’re exercising, good heavens….it’s every ounce of energy some days just to get out of bed and not keel over, that’s why!!
– nutrition. This is an area where I’ll be asking a TON of my friends a TON of questions. Many use natural, holistic and organic diets as a standard way of living. I’m very interested in perusing this avenue of research.
– avoid sunlight (direct sunlight, they say) Why? Many sufferers of lupus are photosensitive. Me? Not so much, but I’m not playing around with the cards in that regard.
Why make a big deal of flares at all? Well, because it’s a sign of increased disease activity.
I will be posting about my experience with Greens+…stay tuned.
I’m also acquiring two kittens tomorrow…stay tuned…you WILL be bombarded with kitten cuteness. Kittens make me happy. :o)