This is Nadia Tasher. When she was 23 years old, she began suffering from a bizarre illness that no doctor seemed to be able to identify. In the course of one year, she visited doctors over 80 times, only to be told each time that she was either a hypochondriac, or suffering from anxiety, or both. Not one of them realized that what she was dealing with was actually lupus, a potentially life-threatening, chronic disease of the immune system.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan.com, Tasher explained that the first sign of illness was a rash, which began on her face, then showed up on her arms and finally all down her legs. Next, her hair started falling out—baldness and thinning hair are symptoms of lupus, according to Lupus.org.
Tasher also began to lose a lot of weight. At first, she was actually happy about it, because her wedding was coming up. But once she stopped dieting and exercising and the weight still continued to come off, she knew something was wrong.
Additionally, she began to have joint pain. At the time, she had no idea why, but it's because lupus causes the tissue in between joints to erode, which leads to painful rubbing.
She told Cosmpolitan.com:
I get really bad hip and neck pain, which stops me from walking too far. . . I look fine – I don’t have crutches and I’m not in a wheelchair – so people just expect you to manage it, but I feel like I’m old before my time. Every movement is painful and it can often feel like I’ve been beaten up.
But despite all her symptoms (which by now also included extreme fatigue), doctors didn't believe she was actually sick. They thought Tasher was a hypochondriac, or else that she was suffering from anxiety. She explained,
They insisted I was suffering from anxiety, and said all my symptoms were as a result of stress and panic attacks. I’d go in and say to them "I’m really worried because…", but that word "worried" would instantly lead them to the conclusion I was suffering from anxiety, so their only solution was to tell me to go home and rest. . .
I would go in with a list of my symptoms because there were so many I was worried I’d forget, but that would make them think I was even more paranoid. They told me I was a hypochondriac, and one GP even said she was going to have to refer me to a psychologist because "I’d invented an illness in my head."
After spending a lot of time on Google researching her symptoms, Tasher learned about lupus. Doctors tested her and the results came back positive, but her doctors chalked those up to "false positives." Fed up, Tasher saw a lupus specialist, who confirmed what she believed—she was suffering from lupus.
Tasher was happy to finally have a diagnosis, but it was also heartbreaking, because lupus is incurable. She manages her symptoms with medications, but she still isn't able to live her life the way she wants to. She gave up her goal of doing police work, because of the intense physical demands. It also may affect her ability to have kids one day. She told Cosmpolitan.com:
I feel like my life has been stolen from me; I can’t have the career I’d planned to have, I might not be able to have the children I want to have, holidays and outings have to be planned way in advance and there’s never a day that I don’t suffer from the pain.
But what’s almost worse is the mental battle you have to go through because you look so ‘normal’ on the outside. Hopefully doctors will become more informed about lupus so other people don’t have to go through the struggle I did to get a diagnosis.
Hopefully cases like Nadia Tasher's will help doctors learn more about the disease, and maybe one day even find a cure.