French Word(s) of the Day: les maladies auto-immunes (lay mal eh dee oh tow ee mun)- auto immune diseases
Many people think lupus is Latin for “wolf,” but the actual translation is “complete and utter confusion.” It’s appropriately named, as doctors still only have vague ideas about it and most ordinary citizens know it as “the disease that no one actually had on House, MD.”
It should come as no surprise that my results caused utter confusion. I got a message from my doctor that started with, “Your report shows a focal proliferative form of lupus nephritis progressing towards diffuse proliferative form with membranous nephropathy” and ended with “Please let me know if you have any questions.” (I assume she actually meant “Please let me know if there’s any part of this that you DON’T have questions about.”)
I experienced a panic that I haven’t felt since my last biology test. Am I supposed to know these words? Why isn’t this multiple choice? I’m POSITIVE that wasn’t on the study guide.
Diagnosis: After speaking with her for about 30 minutes today, I have a better idea of what this all means. My kidneys are being attacked; they’re inflamed. They still work like proper kidneys, so that’s very good news. We need to treat my lupus to prevent damage.
Treatment: They’re holding off on any chemotherapy. Sterility is a possibility in the type I would have to take, and they don’t want to take away any chances I may have to reproduce. (My future children are vital for the continued improvement of humanity.)
I’m going to be put on a high dose of steroids and an immuno suppressant called CellCept. This drug is typically used for transplant patients. They’re the types of drugs with a list of side effects 12 miles long, so we’re in for a fun ride, everyone.
They’re going to see how well I do on these drugs in three months, and then reassess whether or not I’ll need chemotherapy. (They’re crossing their fingers for “no.”)
If you want to be as confused as I am: I have class III, IV, and V of lupus nephritis. That’s right; you can have more than one at the same time. Class VI is the worst class- it means you’ve got permanent damage; I do not have class VI. Honestly, I still don’t understand what all the classes mean. If anyone knows, feel free to share your kidney knowledge with us.