My lupus has been flaring for four weeks now. It started with a trip to the dentist.
The dry mouth I get from Sjogren's causes bacteria to have a party in my gums from time to time and I need a deep cleaning to get it back in order. Some of the bacteria got knocked into my system and my immune system decided to join in on the party by giving me a fever for 4 days and swelling up my joints.
We had shifted my infusion date to be almost a week late because I would be in AZ for my next scheduled one and my insurance won't cover an out-of-state infusion. So we shifted everything so that I could get it done my first day back in Houston (I can only get them every 4 weeks, so I can't move them closer, can only space them out further). So I was VERY ready for it!
Strangely, the infusion made no difference and as the week went on, I wasn't able to walk very well because my hips, knees, and ankle joints were so swollen. I called my doctor on Friday and requested an IV of steroids - something I rarely do because I don't like getting steroids - but desperate times call for desperate measures. I got my happy juice and by Saturday, was already much improved (aside from the roaring headache that accompanies such a large dose of happy juice :) ).
The connective tissue around my shoulders didn't seem to be affected by the steroids though. Over the next few days, that tenderness increased to severe pain that ran up the back of my head and down my right arm to my fingertips. I got into the sports med/chiropractor and was informed that one of the muscles in my shoulders (can't remember the name) was so swollen that it was hitting one of my nerves (hence the pain in my arm). I started therapy to help relax the muscle and bring the inflammation under control.
It still hurts to drive but I can sit up better and do things with my right arm much better now, praise God!
As I talked with the chiropractor, I was trying to figure out what I had done wrong to cause the intense shoulder/neck pain and how I could avoid it in the future. I was told that it was most likely caused by me tensing up when I was in pain the previous week. He urged me to not try and "suck it up" next time and get some pain relief.
His response frustrated me for two reasons: I hadn't felt like I was sucking it up and how the heck am I supposed to NOT tense up when I'm hurting?
And then I started thinking that maybe I should have started antibiotics before my dental work, because that was the real culprit of the flare and WHY hadn't I thought of that. Or why didn't I think of my vacation in September so I could have started planning to slip my infusions by a few days each month, rather than by a whole week, to reduce the shock to my system (or rather, lack of shock to my system :) )
These trials bring so many lies to my mind, that I find I am not just fighting physical pain, but spiritual and emotional pain as well. Lies such as "you should have known such and such would have caused problems, you're such a slacker when it comes to discipline" or "you'll never be normal so you might as well stop trying to be" or "your coworkers/friends/boyfriend won't want to deal with you anymore because you are such a hassle, not able to be there for them or carry your load" bombard my heart and mind. I've learned to do battle with Scripture and by sharing my struggles with a few close friends so they know how I am feeling and can correct me, encourage me, and pray for me.
But it's a hard battle.
It makes me weary at times. And I feel silly at times too, because I know the truth...it's just hard to believe it sometimes. Pain makes one vulnerable. And the enemy LOVES to take that opportunity to whisper those lies to us. And because I'm a sinner and can enjoy a good self-pity session, I can entertain those lies, rather than fight back.
I'm writing this as a reminder to myself to FIGHT those lies.
God is bigger than the enemy. We know that God has already overcome the enemy. He has overcome my sin, my weaknesses by His death on the cross. I need to remember that, and reader, I want you to remember that if you're finding yourself listening to lies, lies that you're not good enough, that something's wrong with you, that you're lacking. He is sufficient for everything and everyone. Our hope must be in Him. It is from Him that we draw our strength, our courage, our ability to persevere and "suck it up"...and He uses our trials to bring Him glory, to show Him to others.
So keep fighting. Fight with the truth that is in His word. Fight by reminding yourself of all the times He has provided, sustained, been faithful to you, and amazed you with His love and goodness. Just fight.