For a while I’ve been getting a whole host of symptoms that couldn’t be explained by any of my existing conditions, one of them being a rash across my cheeks, known as a malar or butterfly rash.
I think I’d been a little bit in denial about the new symptoms. I ignored a lot of things or dealt with them by not really dealing with them – for example, some of you will remember the day when I began to have a large amount of bleeding from my mouth. After spending some time spitting blood in the sink, I made an appointment with my dentist. Part of me (and many of my friends) knew very well that I should be seeing a doctor, not a dentist at this stage, but this was a convenient way for me to pretend I was dealing with the problem without really dealing with it. Incidentally, the same day I saw the dentist, I saw my dermatologist and when I mentioned in passing the rash on my face (which I didn’t have that day) she looked alarmed and asked if I’d been tested for lupus. I avoided that by saying yes, I had been tested for lupus and just didn’t mention that my last ANA test was seven years ago and it was positive. I convinced myself the face-rash was just the rash I get from sunlight (which in hindsight was slightly ridiculous, as a sunlight rash is also a symptom of lupus.)
Skip forward a few months and new symptoms were becoming harder to ignore. Dry eyes were meaning I was getting vision problems, pins and needles in my hands and feet were making my walking a bit wonky-donkey, and my hands started turning blue when I got cold. I was covered with skin ulcers and blisters, most of which quickly became infected. I finally bit the bullet and went to the doctor.
I knew very well that my symptoms indicated lupus, but I avoided dealing with the problem by convincing myself it was sjogrens disease. Lupus and Sjogrens disease are actually very similar. There’s a huge overlap in the symptoms, though I believe the butterfly-rash and sunlight rash are more related to lupus.
A month ago I saw my rheumatologist. After listening to my list of symptoms, he told me they all fit with lupus. At that stage he thought it might drug induced lupus from my Psoriatic Arthritis medications.