My Story: Alana Gustafson

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

I'd been feeling poorly for a couple of years, and the doctors I saw told me I was "stressed" and never ran more than a CBC. Well, my freshman year of college came and I was doing worse and worse. I ended up in the ER several times with severe pain throughout my body, and as well suffering from dehydration and extreme fatigue. It wasn't until I walked into a family practice in February 2013 with an abscess in my leg that things finally started to change. Although the abscess was unrelated, my answers to many questions about symptoms were enough to make my doctor suspect something was up. When I went into more detail about how long I'd been experiencing pain, fatigue, nausea, and so much more, she requested to see me back. By April 9, she had decided I had lupus and sent me to see a rheumatologist. He confirmed the diagnosis and got me on the medications I needed, as well as got me in to see a neurologist and cardiologist to help manage my disease. I'm so thankful to these doctors for finally giving me answers and the help I need!

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I used to be a very outdoorsy type of girl, so staying out of the sun has been a big change for me. I have also needed to remember doctor's appointments and multiple medications each day, something that isn't always so easy with lupus fog! On top of that, I have really just needed to accept that I can't do it all and that there will be days I am totally laid up in bed. Perhaps most importantly, I have educated myself on lupus and I try to spread awareness. It's an important cause, one I didn't even know existed until I was diagnosed.

Who has been there for you? How?

Finding a strong support network for an "invisible illness" can be very difficult, but I've been lucky to have a number of friends and family members, near and far, showing their support in one way or another.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

I'm going into my junior year of college, and despite my health issues, will graduate on time with my degree in Agricultural Education!

Mt Dog Dixie

I'm so thankful to these doctors for finally giving me answers

What's your advice to someone else living with Lupus?

Don't let it beat you. Accept that there will be days it wins the battle, but never let it win the war.

What's your advice to someone else living with Lupus?

Don't let it beat you. Accept that there will be days it wins the battle, but never let it win the war.

I love life and I'm making my dreams come true

I love life and I'm making my dreams come true

About Alana Gustafson

My Story: Alana Gustafson
I'm a 20-year-old student from Louisiana. I'm studying agriculture and I also work 30+ hours a week to support myself and my dog, Dixie. Ever since I was a little girl, I've been mature for my age and very independent. My life is nothing most people would consider extraordinary, but I love life and I'm making my dreams come true despite the challenges I've faced!
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