In 2012 shortly after under- going surgery to remove the right lobe of my thyroid due to having a large goiter attached to it...I began having odd symptoms. When I would wake up in the morning I would have joint stiffness and my balance would be off when trying to get out of bed. I started to experience extreme fatigue and flares of severe body aches (similar to the feeling of having a fever and body aches when you come down with the flu ...only a bit more severe). I was also experiencing episodes of excruciating abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Experiencing these symptoms at such an early age (28 years) combined with my knowledge from working in the medical field I knew something wasn't right. I spoke with my doctor and she decided to order bloodwork. I had a positive ANA/ENA and my CRP & Sed Rates were elevated outside the normal range....I remember my doctor's exact words to me "Well Jenn you just earned yourself a ticket to see a Rheumatologist." So couple months later I finally got into the Rheumatolgy Dept at U of M (which is not only my employer but also my choice for health care for all of my Physicians/Specialists That I see). At my appointment they did a full work up which included an exam, speaking with 2 different physicians about my symptoms after completing an evaluation form of my symptoms I was currently experiencing, along with more bloodwork/urine tests and a slew of Xrays from head to toe. I left that appointment with a..."Well it might be Lupus...it might be something else...we really don't know, and only time will tell" answer...which I was NOT used to hearing. I assumed that they would have an answer to my symptoms and what was going on that day or at the very least within the next few appointments...fast forward years later to 2016/2017....I started acquiring more symptoms slightly more severe than before. I was on Plaquenil (a medication for patients with Lupus) since 2012...however I didn't "feel" it working so I had taken myself off of it. My Rheumatolgist had asked me over the years if I'd like to try different medications such as Imuran or Methotrexate...she stated it was worth a shot but with these medications they would have to monitor my liver enzymes and blood counts eveey few weeks to every month as they can pose a threat to my liver and body because they were a form of "immunosuppressive therapy". I tried Imuran..took it for about a week...had to work rooming patients and helping my physician feeling nauseated all day...running back and forth from the bathroom then to grab the next patient or perform the the next test or give the shot the doctor ordered. It was rough. I decided that this was just not conducive to me having a job to do. So I came off it. I tried a month of Prednisone...which hurt me more than helped me as it has less than beneficial side effects (for some people...and I was within that "some"). I decided to give Plaquenil another shot...stayed on that for a few months...but again...nothing. I decided to do Methotrexate injections in my liver abdomin instead of the taking the oral tablets as I was worried I would have a similar response to the oral medication as I did when I was on the Imuran. I did the injections..slowly increasing my dose...I started to feel.more and more like a "normal" human being for the first time in a very long time. It seemed like a miracle! It's funny how you get so accustomed to feeling a certain way...dealing with chronic pain and fatigue that you forget what you felt like before having it...until you are put on a drug like Methotrexate and suddenly you feel more amazing than any "good" day prior to starting that medication. Well...I came down with a cold/flu type virus that lasted a week...then a severe UTI the next week and then a sinus infection for a 3rd week in a row...my Rheumatologist said that she believed the Methotrexate had caused my body to develop all these infections and that it was likely that if I resumed this medication infections would continue...so she offered to taper me back down to a lower dose first to see if my body did better with that...Well when I was at that dose prior to raising it, it was ineffective on my symptoms. So I decided to come off Methotrexate altogether. Around this time of medication trial and error...my Rheumatologist had decided to confirm her suspicions of Lupus and moved my diagnosis from."Connective tissue disease" to "SLE" which is a type of Lupus that can affect any or all of your organs at any given time. I have since then recently restarted the plaquenil because thus far 2018 has been my worst year yet. I had started to develop nose sores...my eyes and nose are constantly dry, my stomach still acts up out of no where sometimes, I have hair loss, the joint pain, stiffness and fatigue are UNREAL most days, I struggle with memory loss/bring fog...especially after coming off a stressful 10 hour shift at work. On top of this... I have a 3rd biopsy schedule in June as for years (since my right thyroid loebectomy in 2012...followed by an "incidental finding of micro-papillary thyroid cancer" on the part of my thyroid they removed and rebiopsied) I have been having many enlarged swollen lymph nodes in my neck for no apparent reason. Not sure if it is thyroid cancer again or the Lupus..which is known to cause swollen lymph nodes as well. Most days where I find myself waking up early to give myself the 30 minute " I cannot call into work today...I can do this...Pain is weakness leaving the body...what doesn't kill you makes you stronger...You got this" type pep-talk/speech. One thing is for sure...everyday I fight to be present in my life and to live my life to the fullest and to be a good wife, daughter, sister, fur mom, grand-daughter, niece, cousin, friend, and co-worker. I am grateful for my Irish roots because my stubborness helps me to never give up the fight. Today I am asking each of you to join me and so many others in the Fight against Lupus. I plan to do the Walk for Lupus on July 28th at the Detroit Zoo. I welcome you all to join me and/or to donate to my cause. I have set my goal to raise $1000 in 2 months. There should be a link attached to this where you can donate or sign up to walk...or both. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you for your continued support and up-lifting prayers and words or encouragement. It means the absolute WORLD to me. I love you all! Please feel free to share. Let's bring awareness and Fight Lupus.