How I Managed Three Autoimmune Conditions

Well! It's not easy but I have managed it with a few changes over the years to my nutrition and a good exercise plan.

I was diagnosed with Raynaud's in my 20's, in my 30's, along came systemic lupus and in my 50's, I was diagnosed with my third autoimmune condition, Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome or LEMS. OK, so I'm just plain greedy!

The strange thing is, that I am actually grateful for these conditions as I have achieved so much more than I think I would have if I hadn't been challenged.

I don't think the doctor meant take up running, but that's exactly what I did!

I was told when I was diagnosed with lupus that I would have to, "modify my lifestyle". I don't think the doctor meant take up running, but that's exactly what I did! I knew that taking steroids was going to have a huge impact on my bone density and I thought that I just had to do whatever I could to combat that loss. So I started to look at nutrition and exercise to help me. I actually trained as an exercise teacher with the Keep Fit Association so that I would have the knowledge to work out a suitable exercise plan for myself.

I'm not saying it was quick and easy. It took me six years of gradually building up the exercise along with changing one thing at a time in my diet, but it worked wonders. After six years I was off all medication and I was now a runner. My rheumatologist was amazed but quite frankly NOT as amazed as I was!

I managed to stay medication free with my Raynaud's and lupus for 16 years. I was running regularly, teaching exercise classes and cycling everywhere. Then, in 2012, I collapsed during my thirteenth marathon. My legs just went from under me and I was having trouble putting one foot in front of the other. I was taken into hospital a few days later to see my rheumatologist who suspected a massive lupus flare-up, only to be told that it was not my lupus, but something else. They suspected something neurological, as by now my speech, eyes and body were all affected. I was transferred to Southampton Neurological where I waited 10 days for the diagnosis of LEMS.

LEMS is very rare. The doctors did not seem to know too much about it but I became a guinea pig for six doctors who gathered around me every day. I was told that I would not be able to work again and I would have to have a stair lift put in my home as I would not be able to manage the stairs. As you can imagine, I was devastated, but I was not going to give in without a fight.

I told them I would work again, I would not need a stair lift and I would run again and I would send them a photo when I did.

Three months after I left hospital, I ran my first race, the Bournemouth 10km. It just happened to fall on April Fools' Day, so I dressed up in a yellow and red jester's suit.

I have since gone on to do five more marathons, quite a few duathlons, and I have become a cycling ride leader with Breeze (British cycling for women). I have written a book about my experience in the hope that my story will inspire others. 

All of my share of the profits goes to Lupus UK and myaware.