I have been diagnosed with Lupus. What should I do next?

In life, we have two options: we can be miserable and ask, “Why must it happen to me?” or we can stay positive, and be thankful for the things we still have.

I make an effort to stay optimistic and remain confident in the team of doctors and nurses that tend to me. Let me share my experience in discovering and managing my condition Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE, or Lupus) and Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS). I can vividly recall the events that occurred 5 years ago, in June 2008. I was told that in order to save my life, my right leg had to be amputated. At that point, things were beyond my control. I did not suffer from hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart or kidney problems; conditions that would have predisposed blockage of the blood vessels in my legs. However, my legs had become swollen, and over 3 months, my right leg had become cold and numb due to poor blood circulation. I was advised by my doctors to have it amputated.

It was a difficult decision as time was of the essence and I did not have much of a choice as my leg was deteriorating and beginning to darken due to the lack of proper blood circulation. When I was

formally diagnosed with Lupus and APS, I slipped into depression and cried a lot during that trying period. Slowly but surely, I decided to regain control of my life using small positive steps. I made lists of the positive things in my life daily whilst warded in the hospital and steered my mind away from negative thoughts. I visualized the things that I could accomplish and convinced myself that I could achieve them. I imagined walking with the aid of my prosthetic leg and a black walking stick. This empowered me and I managed to walk again 7 months after my operation.

I began writing a book to motivate through my experience. It has taken me 4½ years to complete it and I am now looking for a publisher in hope of providing a source of aid, encouragement and comfort to patients suffering the same fate as myself. I started the Marina Bay walking group on 4 June 2012. This walking group has approximately 1100 active members from all walks of life. We walk every Saturday morning at various parks in Singapore. A month later, I established the Walk for Lupus walking group. This group walks once a month at sunset hours. The walks are great opportunities to stay healthy and to make friends. I am also a volunteer at the Lupus Association Singapore. On World Lupus Day 2013, the Marina Bay walking group walked 3.5 km along Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade. In my opinion, I feel that there is a need to create and increase public awareness about Lupus as few have heard of or have knowledge about it, unlike common diseases such as cancer. It is also important for patients to explore ways to cope with the stress of suffering from Lupus. I believe that frequent exercise and relaxation will make it easier for Lupus patients to battle the disease. Exercise not only reduces stress, lifts the mood, but also improves sleeping.

Stay active and positive always. May you be blessed with good health!

Author: Haresh Buxani