Imagine driving down a quiet suburb, with beautiful scenery, on a Sunday afternoon and then suddenly you are confronted by a couple of assailants; they smash your window, demand that you get out of your car with a gun pointed in your direction. Can you imagine how you would feel? The fear, the confusion, the shock and suddenly the world seems so much more different to what you had believed it to be.
Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I received the diagnosis on the 28th of August, 2013. For years, prior to the diagnosis, I woke up each morning with aching joints and muscles. I wondered what could possibly be the cause of the pain. I would visit my family doctor hoping that she would tell me something different but she would conduct numerous blood tests and find nothing.
For years I lived with an illness whose name I didn’t know until a random swelling in the eye prompted my GP to refer me to an Ophthalmologist. He tested for a completely different element but, even then, when the results came back he assumed it was either one of these obvious two, HIV or an STD.
Then, when the HIV/STD results come back clear, he spoke of an Autoimmune Disease. When he said that, I was thinking; what in the world is that? Like how you would probably think, as the assailant approaches your car, is this happening to me? Right here, right now?
I was referred to a specialist to determine which of the Auto-immune diseases I may possibly be living with and that’s my story, that’s how I found out my body was hijacked by a chronic illness called Systematic Lupus Erythematosus or better known as Lupus.
Most people have never heard of it. I, myself, only heard of it when Toni Braxton disclosed to her family in their Reality TV Show. So naturally, I was afraid, confused and shocked but I don’t think I experienced all these emotions at a scale higher than that of my parents. I recall the moment I tried to explain what Lupus is; I laugh today as I think back to that moment.
Being an African child makes the experience of living with an illness like Lupus completely unique in that there is not much awareness around the condition or any of the auto-immune diseases. In light of that, I was bombarded with numerous theories of what could possibly be wrong with me.
I was told that there is no such thing as an immune-system that is harmful to the body, I must just accept my “calling” as a Sangoma. I think the most bizarre of all the theories, bizarre because it came from the Christian community, was that it was a demon and I just needed to be delivered.
I simply cannot imagine where I would be right now if it weren’t for the fact that I have my own unique and personal relationship with God. It has kept me grounded but also, it has given me the will power to continue living.
Paul writes “…In order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
And so, 4 years ago, I was given a thorn in my flesh to keep me from becoming conceited. The moment I accepted that the grace of God is sufficient I began living in the power of Christ. Not afraid of death, not afraid of pain anymore, I love God even more fiercely now and whenever I have a flare up I turn to my body and speak to this “thorn”:
“Lupus, you live in my body. Play nice because if I die, you die too.”
In the African context, living with Lupus is an everyday challenge. We are either considered lazy, bewitched or have some sort of calling. To all the beautiful bAw’s living with Lupus, you are stronger than what you believe and what you are suffering from has a medical explanation; but God is still in the business of healing. Even in the face of all the biological facts; have faith that defies logic.
Mpumi is a gorgeous young woman who is passionate about God and spirituality. She is a middle child with an older brother and younger sister. Mpumi holds a degree in Political Science and currently works as a PA. She enjoys reading, writing, singing and outdoor activity. You can find Mpumi on Facebook or Instagram to get a glimpse of some of the inspiration she shares.
Thank you Mpumi for your vulnerability and testimony. God truly has been good to you and may He continue to be your strength and joy.
Thank you sisters for reading. If you would like to share your story, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story can set someone free and bring them healing.
I’m still praying for you.