My Story: How it all began...
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
I'd always been healthy in my view, athletic, active, intentional. I used to gym like five days a week and love my early morning sprints. Until 2010, I was admitted to hospital in Colchester a day after my birthday and was thought to have pancreatitis- not the case. But something else would eventually explain the paralysing and debilitating pain I felt that day.
Fast forward 2 years later, I had moved to Abuja, Nigeria and I was falling ill every month- be it malaria or typhoid. Then there was this one month and this time it was my joints. I would wake up every morning in agony, from the tiny joints in my toes to the larger joints in my hips and shoulders. It felt like all the joints in my body were fusing together but would get better as the day goes on. A few days later, I woke up in tears unable to move and was rushed to hospital and required admission for a few days. At this point doctors were questioning whether I had rheumatoid arthritis, aged 26. All in all, a year in Abuja was marked by 8 months of being ill and 5 out of the 8 times, I required medication and hospital admissions.
Thank God, I didn't ever have anything as severe as this, however I later required small doses of steroids to help minor joints pains that followed in subsequent years, I stopped wearing heels and began using knee bandage for additional support. I got married in 2013 and by now, we knew there was something 'wrong' but certainly not enough to diagnose and since I was doing just fine life was good. I had the best support around me and continued to work and live what became to be a more stable life.
In 2014, things changed when became pregnant. At every ante-natal session, I had proteinuria (high levels of protein in my urine). This was escalated and honestly, I rate my husband for being the best- my #1! Along side a very busy medical career, he was also looking after me even treating me at home during emergencies when I had fevers, my appetite was fluctuating and my health gradually was becoming worse.
I was seen by a nephrologist (a kidney specialist) who had happened to be my husband's lecturer when he was a medical student. I underwent numerous tests and by my 2nd trimester, I my asthma was also flaring up. there was this one occasion where my colleagues at work had to take me to hospital at the height of an attack.
We had planned that we'd have our baby in the UK but this was hastened when we received the results of my kidney function and what I later understood to be "Lupus markers"- the Antinuclear Antibody (ANA) and Double-Stranded DNA test. Within a week or two I was in the UK.
From there on I was seen weekly by Obstetrician and a Nephrologist and began treatment for hypertension, (Suspected) SLE, vitamin D deficiency, Anaemia and the worst of all was having to self inject with anticoagulant medication. Because I was pregnant I had to wait for the biopsy that would later confirm the damage caused to my Kidneys as a result of SLE.
I had my daughter safely at 37+5 weeks weighing 2.5kg (tiny baby, I know). but super thankful that all was happening to me and my body did not affect her in anyway, shape or form. after this, I had a kidney and bone marrow biopsy and just before Christmas 2015, I was told I had Membraneous Glomerulonephritis (MGN)- my immune system had been attacking the glomeruli membranes of my kidneys.
Personally, I didn't feel I could react in any other way but to "get on with life" under the specialist care of my renal consultant. She is the best and made the process and journey somewhat bearable. I needed an infusion of chemotherapy drug and along with 7 other medications I take daily. If there's anything I have struggled with the most, it is medication- from not ever needing it to now taking 9 tablets a day is massive for me. Taking each day as it comes and knowing that this has kept me from deteriorating further is how I cope.
My family have been the best ever and I am ever so grateful that the prognosis of leading to kidney failure had never been my case and my God's grace it remains this way...
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