It’s That Time Of The Year


I bet you thought this would be about the holidays. Well, no, it is about winter.

This is that time of the year where the nights are longer, the air is colder, and we are indoors more. It is also that time of the year when many infectious viruses and bacteria are shared with others as we are indoors and have close contact with each other.

When I was in nursing school, my microbiology professor called this time of year, “a microbiotic soup of those infected and those susceptible”. In short, we are in closed spaces, and around more people and are more prone to the touching of places where some who are sick have touched, walking by someone who is sneezing or coughing and inhaling the germs, or being around a child who may have been exposed to germs at school. Hence the microbiotic soup analogy.

Those of us with lupus have to be more vigilant than most. You see, most of our medications are considered immunosuppressants and can leave us more vulnerable because of our immune systems being lowered. At this point, you may think, “Go get a flu shot”. I must state here that the jury is out in regards to lupus patients and flu shots. Many lupus patients are recommended by their doctors to get flu shots each year. They get them and all is good. Some others are advised by their doctors NOT to get the flu shots. My doctor is one of those who has told me not to get a flu shot.

Some have noticed that lupus patients seem to go into a flare when they get flu shots, others say the opposite. Like I said, the jury is out and since I am no doctor, I say talk to your doctor and follow their advice. It may be that your medications can play a role in whether you should get one or not. The type of lupus may be another reason. In the end, it is best to listen to those who are more qualified and know what the risks versus the benefits are.

Another thing about this time of the year is the colder air and the cold fronts which come through bringing the drop in barometric pressure and to some of us lupies, pain. For some reason, the cold weather makes our joints hurt. I know I experience this. I almost hibernate this time of the year because of it.

Now on a personal note, and in an effort to be honest here, I have found myself not only flaring and in pain, but while out and about (I went to the grocery), I seem to have picked up a nasty cold bug. I am using my neti pot and keeping to comfort foods while resting up and fighting it. Sometimes, when it rains, it pours. Ah well, such is the life of a lupie patient.

The best news of the week is that the FDA committee approved sending Benlysta for final approval for lupie patients. The date it will go in front of the FDA is December 5th. It is imperative that this drug get approved. I am on the clinical trial of this and I inject a dose once every two weeks subcutaneously. The study I am in is different than what is hopefully being approved. The FDA is approving Benlysta for IV infusion for lupus patients. The study I am in is to see the effectiveness of injecting instead of infusing. So, we will hope that it gets approved so many of us can feel better instead of worse this time of the year.

I hope all of you have pain free days and restful nights this winter. Remember to watch out for the bugs which can infect us this time of the year.