Photo Source: Instagram/@reallindapark
The international renowned actress who give life to impressive and beloved characters on both television hits Bosch and Star Trek: Enterprise has shared some information on what is like to live with lupus, how it makes you more resilient to any kind of situation in life and gave some tips on how to confront the condition and handle it day to day.
The 38-year-old actress was diagnosed with lupus over 20 years ago (way before she jumped into the spotlight for her acting capabilities), just before attending college on her freshman year. The first symptom displayed by Linda was sheer exhaustion, but she used to attribute it to her busy schedule. Naps on the freeway when coming back from school were part of her routine, but she didn’t pay attention to them thinking that a young body has to be healthy just because.
Timely testing and diagnose
During that summer there was a routine physical blood test that showed Park’s platelets were at an extremely low level, meaning her immune system was not working properly. Looking forward into determining the reason she had such reduced platelet count, she went to the doctor and had a more in-depth set of tests.
For 2 months blood tests were a daily commitment. The lack of platelets and since her blood was not clotting she had bruises all around her arms. Track marks on her arms and a troubled and crumbly aspect had people at drama school thinking she was a drug addict.
However, the real reason behind all those bruises and her unhealthy aspect were those daily blood tests which results led to a lupus diagnose. At first, the diagnose was frightening (as it happens to most people diagnosed from lupus), she had never heard about lupus and did not know the consequences. Doctors offered her to become part of a test group for new and revolutionary tests and treatments for the condition but Linda’s mother and herself preferred to stick to common treatments.
Lupus is defined as an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake. Rheumatology and immunology experts have stated lupus is a condition that can damage blood vessels, joints and even organs. There are many different types of lupus, yet, the one called erythematosus is considered the most common and it affects many different parts of the organism.
Researches have shown that five out of every 10,000 Americans suffer from lupus. The condition is way more common in women than in men, even though anyone could suffer from it. It has also been stated that the condition is more common in African, American and Asian women, with Hispanic women as the following more prone to have lupus.
Within the most common symptoms displayed by people suffering from lupus there are:
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Frequent fever
- Rashes (most likely to show up in the face, commonly called “butterfly rashes”)
- Swelling of the joints
- Exhaustion and fatigue on a daily basis
20 years have passed since Linda was diagnosed with lupus, and there is not a direct test that could determine if someone suffers from it or not. So tests to determine is someone suffers from lupus can take months and even years.
Causes behind the condition and most popular treatments
As it happens with most chronic diseases, the causes of lupus are still unknown. Within the reasons that are thought to cause lupus, medical researches evaluate viruses, chemicals crowding the environment and even genes. However, as most patients are usually females (a very high percentage: 90% of people diagnosed with lupus are women) hormones are also being studied as possible triggers of lupus condition. Nevertheless, no relation has been identified between estrogen and lupus yet.
Regarding medication taken by people with lupus that alleviates the symptoms, physicians base their medical prescriptions on the body part that is being more affected by the condition. One of the most popular medications and that has shown great effect on the condition and alleviation of symptoms are corticosteroids since their properties have proved to slow and stop the inflammation process as well as it reduces the activity of the immune system, giving it some time to rest and recover from non-stopping processes. Linda Park was treated with steroids the first year after being diagnosed from lupus.
Steroid medications have some serious consequences and side effects on people’s bodies. The most common side effects include fatigue (even more than the one displayed as a symptom from lupus) and a varying mood. Though, there are some habits that may help keep these side effects at the lowest and even make them disappear completely. Having a healthy lifestyle can improve a lot how people with lupus feel on a daily basis, these are some of the habits people like Linda had to adopt in order to deal with their condition:
- Eating a healthy diet low in things that make people accumulate liquid such as sodium, carbohydrates and fat. A diet that includes natural food, lots of vegetables.
- Protecting from sunlight is also very important in order to prevent flares and rashes. This can be done by applying sunscreen regularly.
- Making exercise and staying as physically active as possible is also very important. This is done in order to avoid muscle weakening because of the condition.
However, Park also practices some other activities on a daily basis that may have some kind of impact on the symptoms displayed, some of these practices are:
- Using organic products for the skin and hair: Linda adds natural ingredients to all her beauty products such as shampoos, conditions, skincare products and makeup. She also advises people on reading labels carefully in order to know what ingredients are good for them.
- Therapy: in order to look for the right mind-body relation. Lupus can be tough and change emotional statuses quickly, for that reason it is important to stay away from what Linda calls “toxic feelings” and the help of an expert is a great idea for this purpose.
- Practicing meditation: in order to keep the mind free from any thought of physical pain and any kind of autoimmune issues, meditating and having a clear mind can soften pain and relax the auto-immune system.
Lastly, Linda recommended people discovering what makes them happy. Food and activities they enjoy doing and that make them feel better. Fun and excitement are two very strong feelings that are able to alleviate symptoms and make people forget they suffer from lupus.