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Hi, Suzy. You do have a lot of symptoms associated with lupus and definitely should see a rheumatologist as soon as it can be arranged. You have a lot going on all over your body, as many us of do. But tests to confirm that it is lupus and not something else are a must. What you are going through does sound awfully familiar, though.

All my life, all the strange little things that by themselves meant little, but looked at through the lense of lupus, have great meaning. The severe menstrual cramps I have always had I believe are due to an excess of an inflammatory chemical called prostaglandin, which causes many of the problems associated with endometriosis, which I was also diagnosed with at the age of 24. (There has been a study done that shows how many women who have lupus also have endometriosis.) Something in my immune system changed at age 25 when I suddenly had all these new allergies and skin problems, when I had been allergy-free up till then. One day, I didn't know what an allergy was, then I had this freaky episode where all my lymph nodes swelled up, I felt like a had the flu, I had all these little pinoint blood spots all over my body, and I itched and stung all over. From that day since, I have had allergies. And the only thing that made me get over this episode was a dosepak of steroids. I know lots of people have allergies that will never have lupus, but still.... I had strange nosebleeds. Lockjaw. Dizziness. roaring in the ears, numbness, strange itching, odd skin growths, low blood pressure, feelings like I was getting an electrical shock, episodes of loosing or nearly loosing consciousness, lack of appetite, aching joints ... and on and on. I now believe that these were all indications of lupus. And I do understand what you mean about your fatigue. I remember having to rest while getting dressed. Pull up my pants... stop and rest. Comb my hair....stop and rest. Walk from the bedroom door to the bathroom (like 15 steps)...feel like I am going keel over on the spot, please let me make it to the bed!

I was diagnosed by a dermatologist, as I think a good number of people are, because they run to them with all the strange skin manifestations of this disease, thinking it is some sort of skin condition. The man diagnosed me in like 15 minutes. He took one look at my skin rashes (face, scalp, arms, chest, back, thighs), swollen lymph nodes, my dry lifeless hair that was falling out, asked me a few questions about other symptoms I had been having (I had a written list with me), and said he was sure it was lupus, pending confirmation of my ANA test. I could have kissed him! Though later I would be pretty devastated, at that moment, it was such a relief to have a name for what was wrong with me after dealing with my internist, who had told me that I had a scalp infection.

The day I was driving home from being diagnosed was such a gloriously beautiful April day. Gorgeous red clover in bloom made it look like someone had rolled out a lush red carpet along the sides of the road and the sun was beaming down. I was driving home facing the hot afternoon sun and my chest was exposed. From a drive of about 45 minutes, I got a "burned" area on my chest that is still there two years later. As I read the materials on lupus that I had been given that told me that my love affair with the sun was now over and looked down at the spot on my chest, I thought that things would be different for me now. If you had asked me that day, I would have probably said that the thing that most alarmed me was that my hair was falling out by the handful. Little did I know that my kidneys were already damaged. I think about that day every time I look down and see that dark spot on my chest.

Good luck to you on your way to a diagnosis of some sort!

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