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He also wasn’t afraid to ask questions of other medical experts when something regarding my illness cropped up and he wasn't familiar with it.One of the first steps in dealing with a lupus diagnosis is realizing that you’re not alone -- that there are other people out there going through much of the same thing.Sharing stories and offering advice through support groups, both in-person and online, is one way that many of those affected with lupus deal with the day-to-day struggles associated with the disease.One such person who may help you is Alicia Springgate, a Washington state resident and Las Vegas native who was diagnosed with lupus after recurring bouts of pleurisy (inflammation of the linings of the lungs), lung effusion and congestive heart failure. LUP: What went through your head when you found out?AS: No one would tell me what lupus was or what to expect, and so I was very scared and knew it must be bad.LUP: What kind of options were offered to you, medically, regarding treatment? I eventually had so many side effects, I had to increase my medications to combat those side effects. AS: That it is such a devastating disease that affects all parts of your life. AS: My family has been extremely helpful, from the day I was diagnosed.
They drove me to California so I could be treated at the best hospitals available and have been my caretakers for the last three years.They are my lifeline.(Editor's Note: Alicia's mom describes what it's like to be the family member of someone with lupus on page 2.)LUP: What advice would you give someone who just found out they have lupus?AS: Arm yourself with all the research you can gather and the most current treatments offered.Doing research, educating myself, was my saving grace –- until I found a doctor who was honest and compassionate.Then I did my own research, and the results scared me: I realized I had 9 of the 11 symptoms used to diagnose the disease.