Category Archives: lupus

Getting the scoop of my life (Part 4)

This is how the cover-up began.

I showed up for my summer newspaper internship, signed some papers, found a desk, took an assignment, only cried in the bathroom.

And after writing 1,000 words for a sidebar on a school board matter that should have been just 400 —the Province is a tabloid – I slipped out to await my mother, driving up Granville Street in her Ford Pinto.

That first week, and many after, my mom spent three hours each day as a chauffeur driving to and from the Province. She deserved a medal for driving; me, for acting.

I didn’t tell anybody, editor or the veteran journalists sitting on either side of me, that I’d just been tentatively diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease.

Operating instructions, please

The truth is, I had no idea how a sick person was supposed to act.

Should I tell people my problems? Or would that make me seem weak? If they knew I was sick, could they send me home? Maybe I should be sent home? Would my diagnosis taint me for my dreamed of future as a journalist? Continue reading

Who’s afraid of the wolf? (Part 3)

If home is where the heart is, what about the hurt?

Would it follow me there, too?

Upon my return from university, I sat in my straight jacket of pain watching my parents take action.

My dad pulled out the plaid sofa bed in the basement so I could sleep upright by leaning on the back of the couch. He moved the TV close, pushed the shuffleboard out of the way.

My mom brought me warm towels to pack around my chest. When that didn’t ease the hurt, she wrapped her arms around me, trying to minimize the ripping pain that came with each breath.

They’d booked me an appointment for the following day with our family doctor, but I was without hope. After five doctors and 18 months, I already viewed the medical profession with doubt and disappointment.

But as I unspooled my story to our GP, he didn’t take his eyes off of me, or scrawl a prescription for sleeping pills. He put a stethoscope to my chest, probed by tender joints and then leaned close.

“I think you have systemic lupus,” he said.

I remember thinking, ‘Lupus, like a wolf? What an awful name for a disease.’ Continue reading

While pills spelling out the word sick

Emergency pit stop: the search for a cause continues (Part 2)

The guerrilla attacks of pseudo paralysis continued, random and stealth.

Like when my left arm — I’m left handed — went completely limp while playing pick-up, and I couldn’t dribble a basketball or take a shot. That lasted for a few days. Or when I was door-knocking for a candidate in the federal election and I had to use crutches because my legs felt like they’d run a marathon. I worried my friends thought I was crazy. I worried, too.
Continue reading

Before the pain. Fighting for a basketball at Carleton University.

Mystery Illness: In search of an oil can (Part 1)

On Easter Sunday, when I was 19, I awoke from panicky dreams of missed j-school deadlines and failed foul shots to find that I was encased in a body bag of pain.

Before I consciously understood that I couldn’t move, my first thoughts were of a feature story due the next day, an air ball I doinked in the last basketball game of an inauspicious season for Carleton University, and a gnawing hunger for carbs.

I imagined crumpets, discounted and day-old, from the thrift bakery around the corner. My roommates and I survived on its discards.

It was like having a beer store on the block if we were a house of 18-year-old guys with new fake  ID, instead we were… Continue reading