Lupus vasculitis struck Kenyatta Green without much warning. She was young, feeling good and enjoying life. All of a sudden, she lost most of her vision and suffered a seizure that landed her in the hospital. Medication helped stabilize the disease and surgery restored at least some of her vision. But Kenyatta knew the path back to good health would require changes on her part too.
Were there warning signs that your health was in jeopardy?
Looking back I can see the subtle signs leading up to it, but at the time, it wasn’t that noticeable. With the exception of annual well-woman check-ups, I wasn’t overly concerned about my health. I was young and felt fine. When I caught pneumonia and couldn’t shake the cough, then couldn’t hold food down and always felt tired, my first thought was, I need to lose weight. I never considered something more serious. But when the symptoms persisted and my vision suddenly started getting blurry, I took action and scheduled an appointment with my doctor.
My doctor ran tests but everything came back negative. High cholesterol, diabetes and heart issues were all ruled out. They were all part of my family history, but tests came back negative.
Then one day I was at work in the Contact Center and asked a coworker if it had gone dark inside, because it was as if the lights had all gone out. Concerned coworkers helped me get a doctor’s appointment that day. By then, I’d lost all sight in my left eye and some in my right. More tests were done and this time blood work revealed a thickening of my blood. I started taking medications, which helped, but the cause of my vision issues still was unknown. Then I suffered a seizure. A team of Kelsey-Seybold doctors took care of me while I was in the hospital. They collaborated and determined I have lupus vasculitis, which affects my blood – and all the pieces started to come together.
Were you able to regain your vision?
I had surgery in 2012. Before surgery, I had little vision left in my left eye and only peripheral vision in my right one. Surgery left me with the exact opposite – central vision but no peripheral vision. My right eye, with corrective lenses, has 20/25 vision. The left sees only colors and shapes.
What changes have you made since to improve your health?
I don’t have any food restrictions other than keeping my vitamin K in balance because of the medication I’m on, but I’ve definitely improved my eating habits. I eat more fruits and vegetables and limit red meat and fried foods, mostly because I lost my taste for it. Keeping my vitamin K in balance takes some juggling, but it’s also been fun in some ways because I’ve tried some things I might not have tried.
How is your health now?
At my last Rheumatology appointment, my doctor told me I’ve come a long way. He said now that I’m at a good point where I need just one maintenance medication, it’s time for me to work on my weight. I’m ready to get started exercising more.
What have you learned the most since being diagnosed with lupus?
I’ve learned that I’m a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for. And I’m getting stronger day by day.