‘IT WAS JULY 2017 WHEN LIFE CHANGED. IT WAS I WAS DI­AG­NOSED WITH

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - TYLER MEARS Re­porter tyler.mears@waleson­line.co.uk

SELENA GOMEZ has re­vealed how she un­der­went a kid­ney trans­plant over the sum­mer. The 25-year-old pop star and ac­tress has been suf­fer­ing from lu­pus – a chronic auto-im­mune disease – since 2015.

In an open In­sta­gram up­date, Selena shared a pic­ture of her­self on a hospi­tal bed fol­low­ing the op­er­a­tion.

“Lu­pus con­tin­ues to be very mis­un­der­stood but progress is be­ing made,” she wrote.

I mean, you’ve got to give it to her – a kid­ney trans­plant at the age of 25 is huge. But a kid­ney trans­plant after suf­fer­ing from a con­di­tion like lu­pus, and all un­der the watch­ful eye of the pub­lic and the media. Well, she’s a braver woman than me.

Plus – how amaz­ing does she look? I mean, if that was me and I’d just un­der­gone a huge, life-chang­ing op­er­a­tion – well, I’d prob­a­bly end up looking like a wrinkly, old kid­ney, not a fresh-faced 25-yearold.

All that aside, I think it’s great to see high pro­file celebri­ties like Selena Gomez – some­one who has be­come a role model to thou­sands of young girls (and boys) around the world – use her huge so­cial media in­flu­ence to talk openly about her bat­tle with a con­di­tion like lu­pus.

And to use it to en­cour­age her 126 mil­lion fol­low­ers to do­nate to the Lu­pus Re­search Al­liance. Well, that’s just even bet­ter.

I guess this all means a bit more to me than any­one else, be­cause I’ve re­cently been di­ag­nosed with the con­di­tion my­self.

It was July 2017 when my whole life changed. It was the month I was di­ag­nosed with lu­pus nephri­tis.

The con­di­tion ba­si­cally re­lates to in­flam­ma­tion of the kid­neys – or in my case, kid­ney fail­ure – caused by sys­temic lu­pus ery­the­ma­tous (SLE).

Well, at least, I think that’s what it means any­way.

You see, lu­pus is still a rel­a­tively ob­scure con­di­tion. And by that I mean – there isn’t much out there about it.

No-one re­ally knows ex­actly what causes it, why people get it or, un­for­tu­nately, how to cure it.

And there’s no handy guide­book handed out with a di­ag­no­sis, either.

But, in lay­man’s terms, here’s what I know about the con­di­tion so far:

It’s an auto-im­mune disease;

it causes the im­mune sys­tem to pro­duce too many an­ti­bod­ies which can some­times at­tack healthy tis­sue and re­sult in in­flam­ma­tion, pain and dam­age;

young women and people of African-Caribbean, Chi­nese and Asian de­scent are more likely to de­velop the con­di­tion – but, in fact, any­one can get it;

it’s some­thing I’ll have for life – and it ab­so­lutely, un­doubt­edly sucks.

I’m not go­ing to lie, it was all a bit of a blow to deal with at the start.

Go­ing from a fit and ac­tive per­son who trained in the gym five to six days a week, lifted heavy weights, climbed moun­tains and spent ev­ery wak­ing minute ex­plor­ing and ad­ven­tur­ing – to a per­son who couldn’t even get out of bed in the mid­dle of the night was a big shock to the sys­tem.

It was hard, but in a way – I couldn’t have been hap­pier to find out I had lu­pus.

OK, maybe happy isn’t the right word – but def­i­nitely re­lieved to have a di­ag­no­sis.

After months of chronic pain, count­less trips to the doc­tor, days spent ly­ing on the set­tee and re­peat­edly telling people I just “didn’t feel right” – I fi­nally had an­swers.

I wasn’t just “tired” or moan­ing about some aches and pains any more. I knew what was go­ing on inside my body and as bad as the di­ag­no­sis was, I was one step closer to get­ting back to the girl I used to be.

And it came just in the nick of time be­cause to be com­pletely hon­est, I was start­ing to think I was los­ing it a bit .

Surely I can’t be this tired all the time. Am I just be­ing lazy? Maybe I’m stressed? Anx­ious? Is it all in my head? Should I maybe talk to some­one?

All of th­ese things were run­ning through my mind and prob­a­bly the minds of ev­ery­one else I found my­self moan­ing to all the time.

Oh and there was some moan­ing, let me tell you. Work col­leagues; friends; fam­ily – they all had it. Noone was safe. God – I was sick of the sound of my own whin­ing by the end.

But it turns out, it wasn’t all in my head after all. It was in fact in my kid­neys and my joints and my eyes and my skin. My bloody im­mune sys­tem was go­ing off on one.

I was in fact wak­ing up in ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain and floods of tears in the mid­dle of the night, not be­cause I was stressed, but be­cause the mus­cles and joints in my knees, el­bows and back were so in­flamed I couldn’t move.

My feet and hands were so swollen that I couldn’t walk to the toi­let or open the han­dle on my bed­room door, not be­cause I was anx­ious, but be­cause I had lu­pus.

Fi­nally be­ing able to put a name to it – well, that was the best medicine of all.

Iron­i­cally, for a while after my di­ag­no­sis, I couldn’t bring my­self to read about the con­di­tion.

The in­ter­net – Google es­pe­cially – brought up a shed load of hor­ror sto­ries. Worst-case sce­nar­ios like or­gan fail­ure, in­fer­til­ity, cancer, death – they were all passed off as be­ing “nor­mal” parts of the con­di­tion.

News web­sites and mag­a­zines kept us­ing words like “deadly” and “life threat­en­ing” to de­scribe it.

That’s scary enough to deal with any­way – let alone when you’re bat­tling a chronic con­di­tion like lu­pus (and I say that as an avid for­mer self­di­ag­nos­ing Googler).

I re­mem­ber, when I was un­well or in pain as a child, my Mam would al­ways com­fort me and say things like: “It won’t last for ever.” And it didn’t. Whether it was the flu, a cut on my knee or the chicken pox, she was al­ways right. A dose of Calpol; a ban­dage and some Ger­mo­line; and I’d be as right as rain soon enough.

But now I’m fac­ing some­thing that does last for ever; that doesn’t go away after some Calpol, and takes more than a bit of cream to make it bet­ter.

But read­ing about people like Selena Gomez and Lady Gaga – who also opened up about her bat­tle wwith fi­bromyal­gia this week, an­other chronic pain ill­ness – who are so open about their con­di­tions – well that gives me hope.

This is some­thing I’ve tried to do from the very start. After be­ing di­ag­nosed, I told my­self I wasn’t go­ing to shy away from the con­di­tion.

I am a writer by trade, so I would do what comes nat­u­rally to me – and write.

And hope­fully by do­ing this, al­though not on any scale com­pa­ra­ble to people like Selena Gomez or Lady Gaga, I can help to raise aware-

A pho­to­graph posted on Selena Gomez’s In­sta­gram ac­count on Thursday. Gomez, right, kid­ney trans­plant from Raisa due to her strug­gle with lu­pus, the ac­tress-singer re­vealed

Tyler Mears suf­fer­ing from swollen eyes, part of her con­di­tion from Lu­pus

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