The First Lupus Story by Majid Ali, M.D.
Majid Ali, M.D.
“Did you stop using your hormone cream?” I asked.
“No,” she replied.
“The blood estrogen level simply collapsed. The last time we checked it was 32 and now it is zero. Did you stop your estrogen cream?” I repeated the question.
“No, no, I didn’t. Why did that happen? What does it mean?”she asked, more with her hands than with lips.
“Strange. Estrogens level don’t fall like this. Was there water damage in the house?”
“Was there some reconstruction at work?”
“What does that have to do with estrogen dropping?”
“Was there some renovation at work?”
“None. But where is this taking us?” A shade of worry crossed her brow.
“The levels of antibodies against molds have also changed,” I said thumbing through her recent lab reports.
“What does it all that really mean?” She frowned.
“Mold antibodies usually rise like this after major exposures. Nothing that cannot be taken care ofy,” I reassured her.
“So why did the estrogen level fall and mold antibodies level rise?’
“That’s what I am trying to figure out. If there were no major mold exposures and if you did not miss your hormone creams, then the next thing is stress.”
“Stress? Yeah, there was a lot of that.”
“Ordinary stress does not do this. There had to be something deep, something that literally tore you from yourself,” I explained, searching her eyes for clues.
“That too. It’s hard to see your coworkers lose jobs. I took more and more of their work to save my own, then realized it couldn’t go on like this.”
“But it did go, month after month, right?”
“And what else?”
“My wrists started hurting, then my knees. Painkillers worked for a while. Then the joints started swelling,” She pushed her hands at me, then moved her dress to reveal swollen and stiff knees.
“Who did you see for this?”
“A NYU neurologist.”
“She said it’s lupus, did she?”
“Yes,” she labored with her answer as her eyes suddenly brimmed.
“You’re on steroids, are you?”
“Another drug like that. Tell me what do falling estrogen and rising mold antibodies levels have to do with lupus?”
“They indicate severe and persistent stress on the adrenal glands, the immune system, and the bowel ecology.”
“And that leads to lupus, is that it?”
“It’s not steroids that frightens me.” She couldn’t hold her tears. “The rheumatologist seem kind but was very firm. She said I shouldn’t let anyone tell me that a gluten-free diet or vitamin pills can save me from serious drugs for this problem.’
“Serious drugs” What did she have in mind?”
“She said I have to start a third drug next month, a drug that can cause cancer. That freaks me out. Why would she give me a drug that can cause cancer?”
“Do you want cancer?”
“Hell, no! But she was adamant.”
“How often do you go to a shoe store to buy flowers?” I asked.
“A shoe store?”
“Yes. How often do you go to a shoe store to buy flowers?”
“We are talking about lupus, aren’t we?”
“You don’t go to a shoe store for buying 0flowers, do you?” I stared at her for several moments
“What does a shoe store have to do with my taking a cancer-causing drug for lupus?”
It was her turn to stare at me. I returned her gaze, then touched her hand. We were silent for some moments. Then I rose from my chair and walked to a bookshelf. Her eyes followed me. I picked up a book, thumbed through it, and walked back with an opened page. “Here is some homework for you. Here’s a lupus story you must read twice. No, please read it three times”