I wanted to post something on my blog about Lupus and Monica's story. Watching the Keltz family go through this journey, while staying positive and strong, was very inspirational. I would like all my readers (family and friends), to read her story, visit her page, and pray for her.
A group of us will be walking in honor of Monica on September 29th.
Here is Monica's story:
In early November 2011, I woke up with a crippling stiffness throughout my entire body. It was arthritis, and it debilitated me from being able to move my hands and feet. I was essentially bed ridden. After weeks of joint pain, I then began to experience chest pain, exhaustion, shortness of breath and headaches. I thought it was Pneumonia, but two doctors thought it was Bronchitis. It came as a shock to me because I was in great shape and I was an athlete. My doctor was treating my "bronchitis" with antibiotics, but my health was worsening. I was constantly hot and needed to be fanned. I felt like I was burning up inside. I had no strength and no energy. When I stopped eating, my family really began to worry. My face was swollen. And I fell getting out of the bed.
One fateful night, I touched my mother's face and everything turned dark. The oxygen was leaving my body. My sister, Kathleen, and my mother knew when my face turned as white as a sheet that they needed to get me out of there ASAP.
In late February, I was taken by ambulance to the emergency room where I was intubated (forced breathing machine down my throat). I spent 28 days in the intensive care unit.For the first few days, unable to speak or open my eyes, I didn't know what had happened. The doctors tested and tested. They discovered that I had an autoimmune disease but were uncertain of my future. My lungs and kidneys had failed. I was on constant dialysis. Biopsies to my organs discovered that I had been misdiagnosed. I had plasmapharesis to clear out my plasma. Days of chemotherapy treatment (my hair is now growing back!). Doctors said I was lucky to be alive. At least that is what my family has told me they said. I can't even begin to express or recall everything that happened during that month...
In March 2012, I was diagnosed with systemic lupus, at the age of 23. Basically, my "good" blood cells were somehow fighting other good cells instead of fighting only the bad ones. I was operating on less than a third of the blood I needed to survive. I had been a college student and was at a highpoint in my athletic career as a member of the school softball team.
Daily, I fight to keep hold of the life I'd known - busy social life, nursing school studies, late nights dancing by the beach, long term boyfriend, packed sports tournament schedule, family outings. Slowly, I am realizing that I have to live my life and not fight it. I am learning to let go of the things that don't matter anymore.
I want to be healthy and happy! I want to LIVE! I can honestly say, "Lupus, kiss my ass!!!" And it feels great. Sure, I feel tired and get headaches sometimes. And you should see the toolbox of pills I get to take now on the regular. My doctors at UCLA are fantastic. And I'll never forget the nurses there and at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance who were there for me. They saved my life.
Thank you for your help and supporting me. For those special souls who visited me while I was in the hospital, your kindness touches my heart and I pray for you every day. Knowing that together, we can bring awareness to many people of this disease.