Autoimmune disorders are unpredictable. Flare-ups and return of symptoms can occur because of various types of stress, including emotional stress, seasonal allergies, and overwork. In such situations, individuals who have been routinely sleeping grounded often benefit by maximizing their hours of grounding.

Katie McGuinness, Santa Inez Valley, California, former corporate general counsel: “Lupus is the great imitator,’ a disease that hides behind a smokescreen of possible diagnoses and often leads to frustration over doctors’inability to diagnose what’s wrong.

“Diagnosis revolves around eleven criteria based on physical symptoms and blood tests. If you have four of them, you are considered to have the disease. The bottom line is that lupus is an inflammatory process affecting joints and internal organs. I have had both shoulders, elbows, wrists,and knees involved, and such pain that I took aspirin by the handful as well as other painkillers. I learned that you don’t get rid of the pain but you do get erosive gastritis and damage the digestive tract.

“Lupus first manifested in 1999 with kidney dysfunction. Suddenly, I was producing very little urine and put on fourteen pounds in five days.My blood pressure spiked. I had waste products in my blood and urine.A doctor said I had idiopathic glomerulonephritis, but I wasn’t such anidiot that I swallowed that diagnosis. Idiopathic is doc speak for ‘we don’t know the cause.’With diuretics, the fluid came off and my lab results eventually went back to normal.

Similar, but less severe, episodes occurred over the next four years. I had frequent joint pain and fatigue. My hands and feet became swollen and red at times, a sign of inflammatory arthritis. Symptoms worsened. I was prescribed an antimalarial drug, a first-line, anti-inflammatory medication used against lupus. This approach worked for about eighteen months and kept the symptoms under control.

“Lupus has different triggers. I learned, for instance, that sun exposure could trigger a flare-up. I was living in Southern California and getting a lot of sun. That was my catalyst for starting down a pharmaceutical road to steroids. Fatigue turned to exhaustion. At times I was short of breath and even conversation could be a challenge.

“Finally, lab tests revealed one of the lupus hallmarks: antinuclear anti-bodies. My body was creating antibodies to fight the nuclei of its own cells.I had become autoimmune. Initially, I got by with a three week course of steroids that lowered the pain back to tolerable. I regained strength. But then the flare-ups became harder to control. The steroid dosage went up and there was growing concern about potential side effects such as osteoporosis.

“In 2009, the steroids were having less and less effect, and the fatigue was debilitating. Even sleeping ten hours a day didn’t produce enough energy to let me do the things I liked to do. I couldn’t cook or walk the dogs Along with this came mental fog.

“At this point, my rheumatologist prescribed CellCept, an immune-suppressant drug used when steroids aren’t helping. It reduces inflammation and auto antibody production in patients with autoimmune disorders.This, and other similar drugs, are used also after organ transplants to prevent immune-system rejection. The medications, however, can weaken your defenses and render you more vulnerable to cancer and other very nasty things. Side effects include high blood pressure, kidney and liver problems, and susceptibility to infection. These are not drugs you take lightly. I told my doctor I would consider this option carefully. I was con-fused about what to do.

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