Dealing with a Lupus Flare After Covid Recovery
Last updated: December 2022
It’s crazy to think that having Covid was not as bad compared to a lupus flare. When I got hit with Covid, I was fortunate enough to get Paxlovid and my symptoms seemed mild: stuffy nose, headaches, and body aches. If I did not test, I probably would have thought it was just a bad cold. By day 4, I was already testing negative which really surprised me. But, in the days after that, my lupus started to flare big time.
My lupus flare
I could feel my breathing was not the same anymore. Going up a flight of stairs or even vacuuming, I noticed that I would be gasping for air. I messaged my rheumatologist just to keep him in the loop and he said to just keep on monitoring it. I tried to take it easy and did things at a much slower pace. Soon, my butterfly rash was in full bloom. If people did not know I had lupus they would have thought I had the most amazing blush on.
My lymph nodes on the right side under my ear also became swollen. This was the first time that this had ever happened. So, I was freaking out. I messaged my rheumatologist again. He said this is very common for people when they flare and if I wanted to he could prescribe steroids or we could wait and see when my immune system would regulate. I chose to wait it out cause I hated being on steroids. It also wasn’t bothersome, just something new so I got very concerned. Once, my rheumatologist said it was common, it sorta eased my mind.
But soon, my chest started hurting. It was a radiating pain in the middle of my chest. I tried to take deep breaths to help calm me down, but the more I did, the more anxious I got and the more I could feel my blood pressure rising. Every time I coughed I could feel a sharp pain as well. I waited a few hours to see if it would go away. But it didn’t, so again, I messaged my doctor and explained what I was feeling. This time he prescribed the steroids, and I gave in and took them. If the pain was not so bad, I definitely would have waited it out. But the pain just got too much. A normal person probably would have thought they were having a heart attack by now.
Steroids and relief
I was prescribed methylprednisone. It was a tapering dose pack good for 6 days. On day 1, I would take 6 pills, then on day 2, I would take 5, and so on until the last day I took 1. The medications worked incredibly well. By the next day, my chest pains were still there, but the pain was minimal. By the time I was done with the medication, my other symptoms of shortness of breath, my butterfly rash also seemed to get better. The only thing that was still visibly present was my swollen lymph node. I tried putting a hot compress on it and massaging it, but it still was there so I will continue to monitor it.
I have a love/hate relationship with steroids because although they work great, they also have many side effects. Steroids are very powerful and work wonders. But, in just 6 days on it, I could see a difference in my weight. I gained 3 pounds and was hungry all the time. The moon face was also in effect.
I am glad though I didn’t need to get a second pack. Its been a few weeks now, and all my symptoms have gone away except my swollen lymph node. Again it wasn’t bothersome, and it didn’t hurt. It also looks like its getting smaller, but you can clearly tell a difference between my left and right side. I am hoping by the time I see my rheumatologist, it will have gone back to normal cause taking steroids again would really be a last resort.
Did you flare after you recovered from Covid-19?
Have there been things you have learned along your lupus journey that you wish had been explained to you by a healthcare provider earlier?