26 just diagnosed, debating grad school , can i even be a nurse? can i have kids, help

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New Member

Date Joined Feb 2012
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 2/16/2012 3:10 AM (GMT -6)   

I'm 26 and I was just diagnosed with week with lupus. I have had severe joint and all body pain for the past few months over Thanksgiving, Xmas and New Years and didn't know what was wrong me with me. They finally sent me to a rhuemie, got tons of bloodwork, ANA is in the 1000 and it's confirmed I have SLE. Am on 60mg prednisone to taper down to 10 eventually and am on plaquenil and some other meds as well. I have been accepted to a top RN/Nurse Practitioner program that starts in 3.5 months and in the meantime am supposed to be taking my last pre-rec, anatomy, that meet every Saturday, but I am finding that between working 30hrs/week that I am currently, I have no energy to take this pre-rec class and am VERY terrified of starting a known competitive and intense nursing masters program this summer. If I turn it down and re-apply for next year (once hopefully my symptoms have calmed), it is very unlikely I will get in as this program is VERY hard to get into. A deferral is not allowed. I am contemplating everything from scratch now and wondering if I will even want to be a nurse. I'm thinking, as embarrassed as I am about it, going on SSI or disability for the indefinite future because I have just been feeling so awful I don't see myself being able to focus on my health and get better if I'm working too. Even laundry and simple housework, driving, getting groceries, etc is very tiring. Also, it is very important for me to have a family and I'm wondering if doing that AND a career, is feasible with having lupus. I think maybe if I was healthy I could "do it all" but I'm just trying to be realistic as a I create new goals for myself and my future. My health is my priority and then having a family and then my career. I would love some advice from you women who might be a bit older than me. Is it shameful to give up a career and instead seek disability and work a part-time "job" instead of pursuing grad school and a career? (I do have my bachelors degree from a top institution and could still go after a good career at some point) but right now it seems so daunting and for some reason I have so much guilt turning the program down and focusing on my health even though that's what feels like the right thing to do NOW, I worry about the stability financially of my future since I am so young right now.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 1344
   Posted 2/16/2012 10:23 AM (GMT -6)   
First thing is to get lupus under control and see how you are.  It is possible that you will be able to handle school and a nursing career but getting lupus tamed should be the first order of business.  Many women with lupus do have children.  One in our support group just announced she was pregnant and doing fine (her symptoms actually decreased) and others have had children in the past.
You are in the early stages having just been diagnosed and starting treatment.  Hopefully, in a year you will have a different perspective and be able to make decisions about your future without the cloud of a newly diagnosed and treated case of lupus.  If you are sick enough to consider disability then I would guess it would not be good to proceed with school and the pressure and work it will bring.  Stress is not good for lupus in general.  I know this is a disappointment but your first priority should be your health.  You are young and have time to do things and make changes in your life.
It is important to accept what has happened and define a new normal for now so that you can shape your decisions and life around your new reality.  Once things are under control you can begin to make decisions to move forward as planned earlier or modified plans that fit your state of health and energy.  For now try to take things one step and one day at a time.  Set the long range plans aside so you can concentrate on getting better without any added stress.
Hang in there and hope your treatment works quickly.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 42
   Posted 2/16/2012 11:06 AM (GMT -6)   
I don't have a good answer for you, but wanted to let you know you're not alone. I was diagnosed at 23, right before I entered a master's program. It never crossed my mind to not go because of lupus, but I was in denial in the beginning. I also figured school would be better than a 9 to 5 job-even though I would be working more hours, I could choose my hours more easily and take a day off on my really bad days and work longer days when I felt well. Either way, the first year was fine. I have really struggled this second year. My brain function has really gone downhill. Some days I can't concentrate (especially while holding conversations with people which is awful since I have to teach classes). I am so forgetful (I put a frozen pizza in the dishwasher the other day). I am so tired all of the time. I will finish my thesis, but it just may take me longer than the traditional 2 years.

If you feel this program could get in the way of your health, then don't do it. But you are in the early stages of diagnosis, so maybe with new meds and everything you might feel better in a few months. Could you tentatively accept and just see how you feel when the program begins? Either way, your health comes first and you have to do what you have to do to get you better.

Elite Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 2/16/2012 5:33 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm 43 and I was diagnosed last June. When I was waiting for my medicine to kick in I was seriously debating about returning to my job as a elementary school teacher. The medicine has helped the worse of the pains, but my memory is giving me fits. I'm still teaching but I'm not sure how much longer.

New Member

Date Joined Feb 2012
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 2/16/2012 7:57 PM (GMT -6)   
I am 24 years old and was diagnosed at 12. I have grown up with Lupus and a lot of times can't really remember my life without it. I am still young but I feel like I know more about Lupus than some doctors do. I have a BA in health care management and am currently in Nursing school for my BSN and I work 30+ hrs a week. I think that it is possible to go to school with lupus and to be successful in your career, but going right now might not be the right time. As much as no one wants to hear this, your health and the Lupus comes first. One of the most important things about having Lupus is being able to listen to your body and recognize what you need. If you try and over do yourself and stress yourself out, that is only going to make it worse. You need to get your health under control first and foremost and learn to recognize the signs of a flare before you have one that blows up in your face and knocks you down for weeks to months. When I was first diagnosed, and for about 5 years after, I did not listen to my body and was in and out of the hospital every few months. As I got to high school I was run myself down, take more on then I could handle, and then be knocked on my rear. It wasn't untill I learned how to listen to my body and know when I needed to stay at home and rest rather then go out on the town with friend that I was able to stay flare free. I was first diagnosed because of pericarditis and had heart surgery at 12. From then I was in and out of hospitals, started to have kidney involvement, and had been on prednesoine for 8 years... horrible! Now, I have been med free, flare free, and chest pain free for 2 years! I never thought that day would come. I tell you that because I was in a bad place like I think a lot of people on here are. Its hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are stuck in the dark. But it is possible for you to have a life and dreams with Lupus, You just have to believe in yourself. The attitude you have is so important for Lupus. If you allow it to rule your life then it will. I still have pain in my joints, fatigue, weakness in general, but for me exercise really helps with that. I do Yoga when i need to destress, or even take a hot bubble bath and listen to music. You need to find those certain little things that you can do to de-stress yourself. Mind over matter. If putting off getting your masters is what you have to do to get your Lupus under control, then I say do it. I had to put off nursing school because I was sick and I ended up going back and I think it was good I did. I am able to put in more effort now. I am one of those people that believes that if you are meant to do something in your life then it will happen. Everyone told me I was too sick to ever go on to Nursing School and successfully make it, and look at me now!! Don't let any one or anything hold you back from what you truly want. If you want that Master degree then you will do it, whether it is now or later, I believe you can make it happen. Don't think you have to push your body to the limit, wear yourself out and be in pain to make it happen. You don't know the patient taking care of you!! lol I think its always worse in the beginning, being newly diagnosed, because you don't have your perfect medicine regimen down yet and you haven't learned the ways of your body yet. Everyone with lupus has different organs/tissue/systems that it affects so you just need to take time to understand what yours does and master it. You will be surprised with how in tune you will become with your body. Just remember to take time to breathe and de-stress, trust me, it does wonders for your body!

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 26
   Posted 2/25/2012 2:08 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello Calligirl777

I too have battled Lupus for quite sometime but have only been diagnosed for a short period of time. I endured it when physicians didn't know much about it. Lupus is a traumatic event, experience, illness etc. Yes, you can have children, you can even have a career. The down side is stress triggers Lupus flare ups. If you adhere to a strict diet, schedule and positivity you can make it. But first things first. Put school on hold and get Lupus in check. It may take a while. It would be better to get your Lupus under control and after a year or two you will be stronger and maybe can handle to stress of school, parenthood, and career. It will be extremely hard but can be done. I have endured a lot over the last 20 plus years and didn't know that Lupus was the cause. Memory now is a problem for me. There are times when I think I'm even depressed. But once I changed my diet, adhered to a schedule and made sure the children were on a schedule I was able to endure. Lately, I began to have issues with my kidneys, which has scared me to death. But, I'm staying focused and hanging in there. You can and will do the same. Right now, you are a ball of emotions and uncertainty. Take care of yourself first. If you do that your career will take care of itself. You will be at yourself and can contribute positively to everything and everyone around you. In other words, if you are not at your best-you can not give your best. If ever you need to talk contact me wlinn57@yahoo.com and I will be an ear when you need one. Some people listen, but sometimes don't say the right thing or don't know what to say. Being newly diagnosed you will probably spend countless hours researching and puzzling your brain. One thing is for certain, there are no two cases similar. Keep a journal of your daily aches, pains, feelings, thoughts etc. Make sure you have questions written down for your Rheumy. I have learned taking the meds the same time everyday helps also. Feel free to email me and we can exchange numbers if you wish.
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