The Arthritis NewsletterWinter 2012
My disease symptoms started in my late teens. I spent my twentieth birthday in the hospital, and received my diagnosis months later. My twenty-first birthday was spent celebrating the end of six months on a chemotherapy drug. I distinctly remember trying to figure out what sort of an up-do would hide my thinning hair. My name is Sharan, and I have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
It all began with symptoms that went undiagnosed for far too long. Finally I became so sick that I couldn’t function on a day-to-day basis. My parents took me to St. Paul’s hospital, but given the nature of SLE nobody was quite sure what was happening to me. Despite deterioration of my physical condition, I was released from the hospital. I was no longer able to stand on my own or see properly out of both eyes — my left eye later became paralyzed.
After spending just one night at home, my parents took me to Vancouver General Hospital where I met Dr. Kamran Shojania, Dr. Gibson, Dr. Barton, and Dr. Perry. It was determined that I was suffering from vasculitis of the central nervous system brought on by what would later become known to me as a “flare” which accounted for the variety of neurological symptoms I was experiencing.
A treatment plan was determined (high dose corticosteroids followed by a chemotherapeutic agent) and my condition began to stabilize. After spending three weeks in the hospital, I was transferred to G. F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre. I worked alongside a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, and a speech therapist to regain my everyday skills.
Shortly upon being admitted to the facility I was required to set goals, both long-term and short-term. Admittedly, my own real goal was to regain enough ability to return to the University of British Columbia (UBC).
I attribute much of my recovery to the wonderful team of doctors and rehabilitation specialists I had by my side. Their hope and optimism gave me the strength to fight with everything I had. Most importantly, I am thankful for having Dr. Shojania in my life. Not only has he been a wonderful rheumatologist, he has also given me the inspiration to pursue my dreams and lead a balanced, happy life.
I am proud to say that I made a full recovery. I will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from UBC this spring, I am an active volunteer within my community. I have the support of my wonderful friends and family who understand the nature of my condition … life has never looked brighter.
I control my lupus; my lupus doesn’t control me!
Sharan’s story, like so many others, is a reminder of the devastating effect arthritis can have on a person’s life and how the right diagnosis at the right time makes all the difference. Consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada to support research vital to finding the answers now, answers that can positively impact the lives of those living with arthritis.