My Diagnosis Story

Kathleen Nelson: My Diagnosis Story
Kathleen Nelson Lupus

I am a 64-3/4 year old female. I was diagnosed with SLE in 1995. I lost the function of my kidneys and began hemo-dialysis in 1997. In 2000, I received a renal transplant. I just celebrated my 18th kidney anniversary. I am doing very well.

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What symptoms led up to your diagnosis?

I had severe painful swelling of my knees. My primary doctor sent me to a rheumatologist and began treatments of cortisone shots. It may have helped in the beginning with my knees. Then many joints became swollen and inflamed. Nothing was helping the pain. I had brain fog. Deep depression set in.

What tests did your doctor do, and what was this experience like?

Blood tests were ordered and it showed that I had SLE. It was involving my joints, tendons, ligaments, kidneys, brain, and ovaries. I did several rounds of chemo to try to stop the progression. I went through menopause, had brain inflammation, lost kidney function. I had surgery to prepare for dialysis. The first fistula failed due to a blood clot, so another one had to be created. From my first symptoms to dialysis was about 2 years.

Upon learning about your diagnosis- what happened next?

I went into remission and spent 2-1/2 years on hemo-dialysis before receiving a renal transplant 18 years ago. Inflammations and infections are part of my life now.