Last weekend I attended the Lupus Foundation’s Lupus 101 seminar at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. While I’ve had lupus for 10 years and am well versed in the ins and outs of the disease, I wanted to take Sean to further his understanding and thought it wouldn’t hurt to hear another doctor’s perspective. Rheumatologist Dr. Gary Myerson was the speaker and he was brilliant!
Dr. Myerson explained lupus as follows: Your immune system is a big game of cowboys and indians. The cowboys are protecting the fort (your organs) and instead of attacking the indians (foreign invaders/viruses/bacteria) the cowboys get confused and attack each other. How simple is that?!?! I think for people who don’t understand the disease it is a wonderful analogy.
After a battle (flare) there’s a big messy battle field; dead cowboys, dead indians, dead horses, a burning fort. You know the scene from the movies.
But what no one ever tells you is who cleans up the mess. In your body, it’s the compliments or C3 and C4 as us lupus patients know them by. If your C3 and C4 levels are low that means there are too many battles, too many attacks and your body can’t clean up the mess fast enough. C3 and C4 are the measure of your disease activity.
I have always known what lupus is, what the symptoms are, what to look for in my blood work. I always knew what, but I never knew why. Dr. Myerson told me why. Thank you so much to the ladies at the Georgia Chapter of the Lupus Foundation for seminars like this one. They are so incredibly valuable.