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5 Misconceptions About Your Loved One Fighting Lupus

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5 Misconceptions About Your Loved One Fighting Lupus

If you love someone fighting lupus, you very likely know that this disease is an autoimmune disorder. This means that the immune system is out of sync and attacks healthy body tissue.

It just cannot distinguish the threats from the benign elements. The result is usually painful inflammation of the joints. Its official name is Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Symptoms range from mild to severe and the disease may manifest itself in joint pain, chronic fatigue, skin rashes, migraines, ulcers and may damage internal organs such as the kidneys and heart.

If you have a loved one struggling with lupus right now, there are a few choice misconceptions that others believe and that you should keep in mind as you support them.

1. They have an easily understood disease

In spite of the fact that 1 in 185 Americans suffer from lupus, the majority of the population is extremely ignorant about this disease. They also think it is contagious, which is completely false and they persist in thinking that only the elderly are affected.

The reality is that the most common age group to be affected is actually in the 15 – 45 range. Only about 10% of lupus sufferers are men, so it is generally a women’s disease. Thanks to Toni Braxton, the reality TV star and award winning singer, who has come out about her daily battle with lupus, there is more public awareness now of what the disease involves.

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Watch the video of Toni here,as she describes some of her daily struggles.

2. They are very lazy

Few people understand any condition which involves chronic fatigue and they just assume that the people are plain lazy and they ought to get on with it. This applies to many diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and lupus is no exception. Toni Braxton describes it as like having the flu, but every day.

Telling their doctor that they are tired is often very difficult as you can see from the sufferers’ comments here on the Lupus Foundation of America’s Facebook page. The fact that this post was liked by more than 1,000 people speaks volumes.

You can support your loved one better by bearing in mind that they will almost always need more rest than anyone else in the family or circle of friends.

3. They cannot have children

Lots of people mistakenly think that a woman with lupus may have a very risky pregnancy and that the child will be born with some birth defect. This is just a myth though, as the risk of birth defects with a woman with lupus is exactly the same as any normal pregnancy.

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Women with lupus are generally advised to plan their pregnancy when their disease is in remission though. This normally makes things much easier for them.

Lupus sufferers have to be carefully monitored as there are some dangers, but they very often carry a child successfully to term. There is a small chance that the lupus condition can be passed on to the child, but in reality, these risks are minimal.

4. They can be easily diagnosed

Diagnosis is not just simple blood work and many people think that a visit to the doctor can confirm the diagnosis. But it is much more complicated than that. This disease is often called “the great imitator” because its symptoms could be many other diseases.

In addition, there are flare ups which mean that the disease may come and go, and change over time. The doctor, if she suspects lupus, will order a complete set of laboratory tests. Antibody testing, a complete blood count, kidney and liver functions, and blood cells sedimentation rates are usually ordered.

Getting treatment is not that easy either, as the best person to treat it is usually a rheumatologist as that is also a connective tissue disease. This is also why doctors use the American College of Rheumatology guidelines to help them diagnose lupus.

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There are just not enough rheumatologists to go around, which means that the best qualified specialist is often not available.

5. They probably got it from their parents

This is another myth, because the actual genetic factor is quite small, statistically. It is thought that only about 5% of parents will pass on the disease to their offspring. Research so far has failed to identify a gene or group of genes that might be responsible.

The fact that Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, African and Asian ethnic groups are at greater risk certainly suggests a genetic link. There are also environmental issues involved which specialists do not fully understand, as yet.

If you talk to lupus sufferers, you will find that the hardest part for them is trying to make friends and family understand what they are going through. Some of the symptoms are vague and that is part of the problem.

The mental and physical suffering is often brushed under the carpet by the sufferers themselves because they are not getting enough support and sympathy. Talking openly and honestly about this chronic condition is often the best way to help.

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This is a great step toward accepting changes in lifestyle for family members and also helping to meet the patients’ needs.

“I was upfront about having lupus, but it never came up in the show. I didn’t want anyone thinking they had an advantage – there’s a fine line between what you tell and what you don’t.” – Leslie Hunt, season six contestant on ‘American Idol’

Featured photo credit: Fuente: Com Salud/ Com Salud Agencia via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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