HIT­TING Rock BOT­TOM

WKND - - Health -

Time passed, and I learnt to man­age my pain with a lot of painkiller med­i­ca­tion. One of my dreams was to be­come a jour­nal­ist. At 18, that dream came true as I got a job, writ­ing for a weekly news­pa­per; I even went on to work in ra­dio and TV af­ter a few years.

It was when I made the switch to work in tele­vi­sion that things took a dis­tinct turn for the worse again. My sched­ule had be­come ex­tremely de­mand­ing, with my com­mute it­self tak­ing about 5- 6 hours a day — that’s not count­ing the 9- 10 hours I spent at the job it­self. It was too much for my body and, in 2006, I had an in­ci­dent where I col­lapsed at work. Dur­ing my hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion, I had to fess up and tell the doc­tors that I’d been screened for lu­pus in the past. One thing led to an­other, and the con­firmed di­ag­no­sis fi­nally came out. My im­mune sys­tem was def­i­nitely wag­ing war against me.

Things went down­hill pretty fast. I ended up los­ing my job, my friends… Every­one turned their backs on me. I didn’t re­ally have a social life be­cause I was ter­ri­bly fa­tigued all the time — in the sense that I could sleep for 12 hours, wake up, and still feel like I needed to sleep for an­other 12 hours. If I com­plained of tired­ness or pain, peo­ple al­ways told me: ‘ But you look per­fectly nor­mal’… Well, lu­pus can be the ‘ look good, feel sick’ dis­ease, be­cause there were days my feet were so swollen I couldn’t get off my bed or walk; and oth­ers when my hands were so swollen that I couldn’t brush my teeth or hair, or hold a cup of tea.

I reached a stage where I no longer had the zeal to live. How do you face the day, know­ing that your own body is try­ing to de­stroy you? I turned to al­co­hol, started abus­ing mor­phine, at­tempted sui­cide more than once…

Dr Gre­gory House fro the edi al dra a House; Se­lena Go ez, who an­noun ed her di­ag­no­sis with lu­pus last year; ( be­low) Reanna ( fifth from left) on the set of an offi ial info er ial on lu­pus in Trinidad & To ago

SPREADING THE WORD: ( above, left to right)

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