'I thought I was going crazy - until I was diagnosed with lupus'

Head and shoulders of Yvonne Davis, a nurse at William Harvey Hospital who is living with lupus

Published on 13 October 2020

A nurse who is living with a serious autoimmune disease feared she was ‘going crazy’ after medics struggled to diagnose the condition.

Yvonne Davis, who works in intensive care at the William Harvey Hospital, was suffering from high fevers and joint and muscle pain, but doctors were baffled after test after test came back clear. 

When she was finally diagnosed with lupus, a condition where the immune system attacks healthy parts of the body, she said it was a relief to know she had not been imagining her symptoms.

Yvonne, who is sharing her story for Lupus Awareness Month this month, said: “Before I was diagnosed it was hell. 

“I was having flare-ups and thinking ‘am I going mad, am I imagining things?’ But I was not imagining having a temperature of 40 degrees, and I was not imagining the pain.

“I had bone marrow biopsies, a lymph node biopsy, and every single blood test under the sun and it all came back negative.” 

When Yvonne was referred to yet another specialist, he suggested it could be lupus, or sarcoidosis, another auto-immune condition.

Although lupus cannot be cured, there are treatments which can be used to manage flare-ups. 

Yvonne said: “To be told it was lupus; to have a diagnosis and to understand I was not going crazy – that was such a relief.

“Lupus cannot be cured but I’m living with it and there are treatments. 

“At least I know what I am dealing with now. I do still have flare-ups but I still go to work unless I physically can’t get out of bed.

“As an ITU nurse I think you are harder on yourself, because you see people in the unit and they are sick, really sick. 

“So if I have a headache or I feel tired – I’m going to work through that because compared to my patients I’m fine.”

Lupus is not contagious, and is more common in women than men. Black and Asian women are also more susceptible. 

Symptoms include joint and muscle pain extreme tiredness, rashes – often over the nose and cheeks, headaches, mouth sores, a high temperature, hair loss and sensitivity to light.

It is easier to manage if it is caught early, but diagnosis can be difficult because the symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. 

For more information on lupus visit www.lupusuk.org.uk