THE 10TH ANNUAL FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES
Butterflies of Hope Warrior Stories
Flight of the Butterflies, Butterflies of Hope Warrior Stories is a lupus awareness campaign sharing stories of the brave lupus warriors. Many don’t understand lupus until they hear the walk of a warrior. Flight of the Butterflies, Butterflies of Hope Warrior Stories is dedicated to sharing those stories in May for lupus awareness month.
Flight of the Butterfly Stephanie Easterling
My Story: Stephanie Easterling
They say when it comes to Lupus, you don’t get it until you get it. I now know that’s true. When I was 24 years old, I was young, healthy, newly married, and pregnant with our first baby! It was during a routine checkup that my doctor informed me my tests indicated I had some sort of auto-immune issue going on. After a few specialist’s visits it was determined that I was fine, and the baby was fine but that I may develop some sort of an auto-immune disease at some point in my life. I didn’t know what that meant so I asked and they mentioned something about Lupus. I was still clueless but I felt fine and more importantly my baby was fine. I put it all to the back of my mind. Fast-forward to 3 years later in my second pregnancy when the same tests indicated the same things. I told the doctor I was fine and I already knew about it. I think I surprised them with how nonchalant I was about it. It was nothing to me, in fact, I almost forgot about any of this until 3 years later when the pain started.
I had just turned 30 and I had taken a trip to New York City. I walked a lot and figured I just needed some rest. Weeks later the pain was worse and I remember joking with my husband that this must be what getting old feels like. I went in for a checkup but my doctor assured me it was just a Vitamin D deficiency. After a few months of supplements, I was still declining. My neck hurt, my hands hurt, my feet hurt…every joint in my entire body hurt; I was miserable! I could see the inflammation especially in my hands but I really just thought I was crazy. It was physically and emotionally exhausting so I rested more than I ever had in my life but I was still always tired.
My rock bottom was one particular morning when my hands were so sore, and my husband had already left for work. I had to call my then 7-year-old son in to help me pull up my pants. I cried. What was happening to me? Why was no one listening? I immediately made another appointment. This time the doctor started talking about acupuncture and yoga to relax. I immediately stopped her. I told her I wanted to see a specialist who could run more tests. She reluctantly made a referral to a Rheumatologist. I waited 6 more months to be seen but within a few weeks of being seen I was diagnosed with Seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis. She started me on a low dose steroid which got the inflammation under control while we worked out a treatment. In the end we found a few meds that worked for me, and even though some of the side effects weren’t fun either, I was feeling pretty close to normal again.
In 2020, my family moved and I had to establish myself with a new Rheumatologist. This time I waited 8 months to get in. I obviously ran out of meds during this time so by the time I was seen I was not doing well at all. In addition to the joint pain, I had developed some new symptoms: a butterfly rash, and white, cold, numb, finger tips. When my labs came back my new doctor informed me that in addition to the R.A. I also had Lupus. For some reason this diagnosis hit harder than the first. After 4 years of living with R.A. I felt like I was at a good place and could manage it. Lupus was a new confusing diagnosis and I was feeling pretty hopeless for a while.
Now, 2 years later I am more at ease with the diagnosis. I am still figuring out my treatment and my flares are more frequent than they used to be. But I also won’t let this defeat me. I have a wonderful life, with a wonderful family. I work as a teacher, and I am happy. Of course, I have bad days where I am just completely over it and I cry and scream and wonder how I am ever going to get out of bed, but then I do. I get out of bed and I push through. I will never quit. The hardest part is when people look at me and say, “You don’t look sick. You’re young and healthy, “ and I think to myself, “If you only knew.” But of course, you don’t get Lupus until you get Lupus.
Lupus In Color is excited to present Stephanie’s story to the world. As a Lupus Warrior she is actively promoting lupus awareness and wearing the armor of strength in doing so.
Lupus In Color Salutes Stephanie. YOU ARE BRAVE, COURAGEOUS, AMAZING and STRONG!
YOUR BUTTERFLY WINGS ARE FLUTTERING, YOUR CHIN IS UP, YOUR ARMS ARE EXTENDED AND YOUR CHEST IS OUT! FLY ON BUTTERFLY!
PLEASE SHARE Stephanie Easterling’s FLIGHT ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES AND START HER BUTTERFLY JOURNEY SPREADING LUPUS AWARENESS!
#LupusInColor #ButterfliesofHope #FlightoftheButterflies #Brave #Courageous #Strong #SpreadLupusAwareness #LupusWarriorStories