R. Morgan Griffin
Brunilda Nazario, MD
When you have lupus, taking care of yourself can be hard enough. If you're a parent -- dealing with rheumatology appointments on top of dirty diapers and school bake sales -- it may quickly become overwhelming for everyone.
"A parent's lupus will have an impact on their kids," says Robert Katz, MD, a rheumatologist and associate professor of medicine at Rush Medical College in Chicago. "It's a disease that affects the whole family."
There are techniques that will help make parenting with lupus easier, he says. Many parents with lupus -- and their children -- learn ways to thrive despite the illness. Here are some tips for parents with lupus, followed by advice on how to talk to your children about your condition.
Remember the advice you get on the plane: in emergencies, put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then your kids. So get enough rest, reduce stress, and see your lupus doctor regularly. "If you focus on taking care of yourself first," Katz says, "you'll be better able to care for your kids."
When you start to feel this, ask yourself: would you think this way if you broke your leg? Or had cancer? Lupus is just as real and often just as debilitating. Going through life feeling guilty and self-critical won't help you. What's more, it won't help your kids either.
If you're a parent with lupus, you're going to need help from a lot of different people. Here are some pointers on how to get it.
You might feel uncomfortable talking to your kids about lupus. Lupus is unpredictable, and you may not be sure of your health in the long-term. It's tempting to avoid the subject. But that won't work for long. Even young kids will sense that something is wrong. If you don't talk about it, your kids might not ask -- but they might worry in private.
As a parent with lupus, the best you can do is reassure your kids, realistically, about your health. Here are some tips for the conversation.
SOURCES:Robert Katz, MD, associate professor of medicine, Rush Medical College, Chicago.Lisa Fitzgerald, MD, rheumatologist, Lupus Center of Excellence at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.Dawn Isherwood, RN, House Educator, Lupus Foundation of America.Lupus Foundation of America.
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