The path to a diagnosis of lupus can be a long, difficult and painful. The average time between a person’s first symptoms and a definitive lupus diagnosis is six years. Regular testing and waiting for symptoms to arise are unfortunate aspects of the process since there is not a conclusive test that proves lupus.
Instead, there is a list of criteria developed by the American College of Rheumatology that doctors can use as a guide. The list of criteria includes: rash, joint pain or swelling, kidney problems, neurological problems, sores in the mouth or nose, inflammation in the heart or lungs, hair loss or a color change (purple or blue) in the fingers upon exposure to the cold.
If your doctor suspects lupus, the rheumatologist will advise the following tests to diagnose: medical history, blood tests, urinalysis, imaging, biopsy and neurological exam. Lupies, it is a very long, grueling discovery process. I was unfamiliar with the disease when an ER doctor spoke his suspicions. I felt relief because now all these symptoms were not a bunch of unknowns. I finally had knowledge to figure out my new normal. Autoimmune diseases are unfair and scary. Day in and out it is an enormous struggle. It may take more time but Lupies, we can only move forward.
“Health is a state of complete mental, social and physical well-being, not merely the absence of disease” – World Health Organization, 1948