Healthy Living

Oakland Tennis Journalist Writes Touching Memoir About Wife with Lupus

Oakland Tennis Journalist Writes Touching Memoir About Wife with Lupus

Go ahead. Ask him anything about tennis and he’d probably give you more information that you even knew existed. The reason: he knows it by heart.

Oakland-based tennis journalist Joel Ducker is considered one of the world’s best in his field. He has a three-decade writing career mostly covering recreational and professional tennis, ranging from player profiles and news to participatory experiences. Drucker’s work appeared  broadcast venues like Tennis Channel, CBS, and HBO. His other works appeared in various print publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Forbes FYI, Tin House, and People Magazine.

In August 2016, the Tennis Hall of Fame named him a historian-at-large. The story he wrote about Pancho Segura, Tennis Great of the 40's and 50's also earned him an Honorable Mention award. On the court, John McEnroe berated him, Andy Roddick left-handed him, and Jimmy Connors hit him with a ball, and in his first book “Jimmy Connors Saved My Life”, he tells the story of the latter.

Tennis brought Drucker more than just the exposure and recognition, it also led him to the love of his life – the inspiration for his latest book, “Don't Bet on It." While the book touches on tennis, it actually says a lot more.

During the summer of 1982, Drucker met then art director, Joan Edwards in a tennis magazine they both were working for. Two months later, they were in love. But this is not your typical love story – flourished with butterflies and all good things.  A year before they met, Edwards was diagnosed with lupus.

Drucker said Edwards’ illness built a certain climate for how they engaged and related to each other. One doctor predicted that by the time Edwards would reach the age of 35, she’d be dead. Drucker had to learn about what it is like to be living with lupus. He said, unlike all the other things that can be fixed, lupus is different. Drucker said Edwards already set the tone early on for their almost three-decade relationship: He should not try to solve the problem.

So instead of trying to fix it, he just listened, and for Drucker, it was all that he needed to do. He said that what defined their journey as a couple through lupus was communication. For Drucker, lupus is pretty much like living on a fault line. He accepted the fact that bad things were going to happen.

A few months before Edwards contracted another infection in 2010, which made walking impossible for her, Drucker received an email from his close friend, asking him for advice. It turns out the 13-year-old daughter of Drucker’s friend was also suffering from lupus. He said his wife was upset upon learning this, but Edwards gave the young girl some wise words: “Your illness does not define who you are. It is a part of you, but it is not who you are.”

On September 2, 2010, Edwards drew her last breath due to lupus-related complications. She was 56. Drucker’s recent book, "Don't Bet on It", is a bittersweet memoir about Edwards and his 28-year romance with her.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune illness that occurs when your body’s immune system records hyperactivity, attacking your normal and healthy tissue. Among the symptoms of lupus, swelling and inflammation are the most common, and the disease can cause severe damage in the heart, kidneys, lungs, blood, skin and joints.

The normal function of one’s immune system is to make proteins known as antibodies. These antibodies protect and combat antigens such as bacteria and viruses. Lupus, however, does not allow the immune system to correctly differentiate an antigen from a healthy tissue. Because of this, the immune system is led to direct the antibodies to fight not just the antigens but also the healthy tissue. When this happens, tissue damage, pain, and swelling occur.

Lupus can affect any part of the human body due to its wide array of clinical indication. This chronic illness is capable of affecting one’s internal organs, kidneys, joints, blood vessels, brain and skin.

Fast facts about lupus

Below are some fast facts about lupus.

  • While this chronic illness can be mild, it can also be life-threatening.
  • Contrary to others’ belief, it is not contagious.
  • There are other types of lupus. This includes neonatal, discoid or cutaneous, and drug-induced.
  • Lupus is likely to occur among people aged 15 to 45.
  • More than 90 percent of people suffering from lupus are women.
  • Most doctors are considering environmental stimuli and genetics as possible causes of lupus.
  • The risk factors for lupus include exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, infections, extreme stress, and some antibiotics and medications.

Lupus statistics

  • The Lupus Foundation of America revealed that 1.5 to 2 million Americans are affected by lupus.
  • It was likewise revealed that five million people around the world are suffering from some lupus form.
  • In an article released by the Lupus Foundation of America, it was divulged that young women’s leading cause of death is lupus. UCLA researchers studied the role of lupus as the leading cause of death in young women nationwide. The study was population-based and used the death certificates of the subjects from 2000-2015. It was found that the chronic illness belonged to the list of leading causes of death among females aged 5 to 64. It was also the fifth leading cause of death among Hispanic and black women aged 15 to 24. This was after taking out from the analysis of the three frequent causes of death from external injury. The findings stress the demand for more funds to be allocated for lupus research as lupus becomes a concerning health issue among the public.
  • A separate study revealed that there is low awareness among people regarding the chronic illness. The lack of lupus understanding leads to stigma among people suffering from the chronic illness, which often leave lupus sufferers isolated from their family, friends, and community. The World Lupus Federation (WLF) is slated to release the complete 16-nation survey results during the celebration of World Lupus Day on May 10.

Treatment for lupus

A careful discussion with your doctor is required in order to treat lupus. This is because treatment will significantly depend on your symptoms. Your lupus signs and symptoms may either flare or subside and because of this, your doctor may find the need to increase or change your medications. The common medications used to commonly control the symptoms of lupus include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Antimalarial drugs
  • Corticosteroids
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Biologics
  • Rituximab (Rituxan)

Lifestyle changes

Aside from medications, you also need to take essential steps to take care of your health. These simple measures can improve your condition and prevent you from having flares. You can try to do the following:

  • Exercise regularly: Exercise has been proven to benefit one’s overall health and wellness. To strengthen your bones, you should try to exercise regularly.
  • Avoid smoking: Smoking can contribute to the worsening of your condition. It also increases your chances of acquiring a cardiovascular disease.
  • Wear protective clothing: Sun exposure can trigger lupus flares, so make sure you are properly dressed all the time. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, as well as a hat. Also, avoid going out without using sunscreens with an SPF that contains at least 55.
  • Have regular checkups: Seeing your doctor regularly is very important. He can monitor your symptoms and help you prevent lupus flares.
  • Eat smart: A healthy diet is also helpful in improving your health. Consume whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

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