Living with Lupus: The Olivia Cate Story


Olivia Cate is an inspiring lady that runs a small confectionery in her town. She is a loving mother and a loyal wife. She used to be very enthusiastic about the products at her store until misfortune ran its fate.

A visit to her doctor changed her life. The doctor informed her that she was suffering from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), an auto-immune disease.

With the highest prevalence in North America, SLE affects 23 persons in 100,000 persons/year. We had a meeting with Olivia to get some words of inspiration from her.

How Did It Start?

One day I felt some pain in the knee joints, and, gradually, generalized fatigue overtook me. At the start, I thought it was due to excessive workload, but when it persisted for a few days, I preferred seeing a doctor.

Another thing I noted was the unusual redness on my face. My youngest kid started calling me “Batwoman.” The red rash on my face resembled the Batman symbol.

What Was It Like Being Diagnosed

The very first thoughts I had were like my own cells are attacking me? But why? The doctor said that medical science has no precise answer to my question, and it didn’t matter. He said, what matters is that you have got a disease, and you need to be strong to fight in its face.

What After the Diagnosis?

At first, I couldn’t accept the fact. It is easy to manage being diagnosed with a treatable disease that resolves in days, weeks, or months. Being diagnosed with lupus, and knowing that I have to live with it for the rest of my life, badly affected my mental health. Soon after the diagnosis, I felt depressed.

Though my husband and kids were supportive enough, the inability to run my confectionery and becoming dependent on others for running the most basic of errands was heartbreaking. To add fuel to the fire, my kidneys started to slow down. Soon my kidneys were failing too.

Did Drugs Ease My Symptoms?

To be honest, drugs might help, but not that much. In my case, prescribed medications didn’t benefit much to ease my symptoms. I was on pain killers for a very long time. Occasional corticosteroid injections into the joint helped me regain some mobility, but that was temporary. My doctor also prescribed me some immune dampening drugs (to slow down the attacks of the immune system), which I continue to take.

Then What Did Help Me?

In the first two years, I lived in the misery of pain and kidney problems. Later, I started looking for other ways to ease my symptoms. Some lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and joining a support group helped me a lot. I found and joined a group on the internet where I could interact with other ladies with lupus. We used to chat and motivate each other. That meant a great deal.

What Healed Me?

There is no permanent cure to lupus, but you can easily manage it with some changes in your life. The flare-ups are worse, but the other days are alright. To get me out of the plight of lupus, I made some changes to my life. I also suggest you follow my way to help yourselves with lupus. It includes:

  1. Dietary modifications
  2. Lifestyle changes

What Dietary Changes?

  1. Give up processed food because this is a significant source of inflammation in the body. Anything having a high sugar or sodium content will increase inflammation in the body.
  2. Replace red and processed meat with Salmon and Mackerel because they help remove inflammation and pain.
  3. Add green vegetables to the diet. Kale, Spinach, and Broccoli have loads of antioxidants in them that rid you of unwanted inflammatory markers.

However, avoid sprouts (especially alfalfa sprouts). They are associated with flares.

  1. Drink loads of water. Keeping yourself hydrated has been an important step in my journey.
  2. Fruits such as Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C and thus help reduce inflammation.

Apples and berries help you combat the disease.

  1. Walnuts, eggs, and milk products should be a part of your daily diet if suffering from Lupus.What Lifestyle Changes? You have to take control of your life:
    1. Carry out exercise daily because it helps keep your muscles and joints mobile. Yoga is very effective in bringing peace and soothing your aches. I have found a lot of peace in it.
    2. Visit the doctor frequently and follow up on your reports. Keep an eye on the progression of the disease.
    3. Monitor your Lupus flares. Lupus flares come and go. Watch for the flares and try to identify the factors that cause them. Try to keep yourself covered in the cold as weather changes, and infections can cause a flare-up.
    4. Take your medicines on time.
    5. Avoid stress. Meditation and yoga are great ways of achieving mental peace.

How Do I Feel Now

I would say, “I am back on track now.” My kidneys are fine, the joints are mobile, and the rash is no more, but I am still a Supermom because that is what my kids call me now.

The confectionery is in prime form, and I monitor the store and the house just like the old days. I do some light yoga regularly, avoid sodas and bakery items in the diet, take 4 of my 12 prescribed medications nowadays, and, most importantly, keep the stress of life far away.

What’s My Advice To You

Be strong! It is not the end of the world. You can live just like I am thriving with it. Be patient, and don’t be judgemental. Join a support group, adopt the lifestyle and dietary changes that helped me in my bad times, and keep your loved ones close. Stop fearing life and be the best version of yourself!

About the author: NORMAND SAVOIE

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