My Story: LeSure West

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What steps led up to your diagnosis?

I was always tired and avoided going anywhere. I'm a workaholic, so I assumed I was exhausted by work. My wife is the type of person who always wants to be on the go when the weekend comes. There is nothing wrong with that, but I was working most Saturdays, but I'd muster the strength to get up and go anyway.

There were times when she'd just take the kids while daddy stayed home to rest, but now I'm missing out on family time. This period went on for a while; I was just so tired. It was a Sunday morning and my daughter and I were watching a football game on TV. Our team had just scored a touchdown and we're cheering and jumping for joygm. All of a sudden, I felt a sharp pain in my chest. I thought it was just excitement from celebrating the touchdown. First off, I'm not one who goes to see the doctor every time I feel pain. A couple of hours went by I still felt the pain, so my wife gave me something for it.

I woke up the next morning with the pain, so I make a same-day appointment to see my doctor. She checks me out and prescribes some medication to take. I went home to lay down before it was time for me to go to work. Big mistake; those were the longest eight hours worked in my life. Every step I took was painful. I couldn't breathe. It felt like someone was taking a bat and hitting me in my chest with every step I took. I had to lean against the wall to breathe. This was uncomfortable, as I had to do this for eight hours. The next day I didn’t to go to work. Dinnertime comes and my wife was cooking dinner; all I remember is grabbing my chest and going into our bathroom. She came in and saw the pain I was in and rushed me to the ER. They ran tests, hooked me up to monitors, and drew blood. I didn’t know what was going on. Fourteen days later I was checked out the hospital. I get out twenty pounds lighter. I'm having appointments to see a cardiologist, my doctor. You name it, I saw everyone.

This went on for a period of over seven months. Finally, I had to go the infectious disease department. My wife said once we had to go there, she knew something was wrong. She's a medical assistant so she knows, me; I was in denial. They ran more tests, and drew more blood. In April, I was diagnosed with lupus, SLE. That day changed my life forever. I wanted to get mad and sad all at the same time.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

Three years later, I'm still working but not as hard or as much as before. I've really learned how to relax more and not worry as much. Enjoying life and spending more time with my wife and kids is a priority for me. Going places and being happy about life makes my day. Lupus is so unpredictable that you never know how you’ll feel the next day. I was never one to enjoy listening to jazz music, but it's my favorite now. It relaxes me. Also, yoga and meditation are activities I've taken up. It really helps me to get my day started. A nice quiet room and book will also do it for me. Where I live, it gets really hot. Being in the sun is a no-no for me. It takes a lot out of me.

LeSure West and his children

I need to keep going. I push myself to do. I can't give up.

Smile, even if you don’t feel like it. It's not the end of the world, although it can feel like it.

Smile, even if you don’t feel like it. It's not the end of the world, although it can feel like it.

Who has been there for you and how?

LeSure West with his daughterMy wife is my biggest supporter. My three kids are the greatest. They are eight, ten and fourteen. They know that daddy can't do as much as he would like and when he's laying down its not that he doesn't want to play. He's resting. As far as going places, I do as much as I can. I'm not going to stop living my life because I have this horrible disease. I need to keep going. I push myself to do. I can't give up. I have kids who look up to me.

I've learned to relax and to just enjoy my life.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

I'm most proud of myself of not giving up; becoming a better person, husband and dad. I've learned to relax and to just enjoy my life whereas before, I would just want to work. It was all I knew how to do.

 

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

My advice to those living with lupus is to smile, even if you don’t feel like it. Lupus is not the end of our world, although it can feel like it sometimes. We have to keep living. We have our lives we have to enjoy and we have family to live for. Fight on!

 

Is there anything else we should know?

I am thirty-nine years old with three beautiful kids and a wife of nine years. We live in California with our two dogs. I love just being around my family. I work at the same job today three years later. My job is very supportive of my condition, which makes things easier on me.

About LeSure West

My Story: LeSure West
I am thirty-nine years old. Married for nine years with three kids. I live in Bay Point, CA. I am warehouse associate for Toyota in San Ramon, CA and have been with the company for eight years.
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