Living abroad was something I always wanted to do. When you move abroad, it seems people are a bit fascinated with you, and when you move abroad with health challenges, that heightens the fascination.
Getting lupus made me witness firsthand what healthcare was like in the United States, and I wanted no part of it. I left, looking for that greener grass, so to speak. I have been interviewed in videos and podcasts about my decision to leave the U.S. while battling my body. I was once asked if I could change anything, what would it be? I basically had no response for this. Then, of course, the question was specifically asked about lupus.
If I could go back and not be diagnosed, would I accept that? My answer to this question is always no. I hate the pain and what it does to me mentally, but I have learned so much during this journey. I have always been a joyful person. I think people felt that I had no real challenges before I was diagnosed. That assessment, of course, is untrue, but when I was diagnosed and still able to find joy, it let me know that I am a genuinely joyful person, even through the toughest challenges.
I learned just how much my family truly loves and supports me. I learned who my true friends are. People I’d known for decades couldn’t be bothered to even send me a message and ask how I was, but people I hadn’t known that long made sure I had nutritious food when I could not walk or talk and could barely stand on my own.
I was welcomed into homes to stay while I recovered and gifted travel to get to the places I needed to get to. I learned how to get past my own vanity and how to truly trust my instincts. I learned how to advocate for myself in areas I never thought I would have to advocate. Those situations also made me bolder in other areas.
With lupus, I don’t always look as if I’m sick, but it is by far one of the biggest challenges I have had to face. It has caused me to look at my life and those who enter it in a different way. I am much less tolerant of nonsense that I once overlooked. I live more boldly in many ways, and over the years, I have dialed back many things I thought were important but now realize are not.
Lupus has taught me to have more compassion and be more understanding, as well. It has shown me that I should mind my own business, and when others make decisions I don’t understand, I need to respect the decisions made. I have not always been this way, but so much has happened to my body, mind, and spirit along the way that I simply could not give back all the growth that has come with the diagnosis.
I honestly don’t think I could have grown in as many ways had it not been for this diagnosis. I would love to achieve full remission with no pain and no meds, but I can’t say I would give back the diagnosis and the things I’ve learned along the way. It may sound crazy, but I wouldn’t change what has happened.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.