Lupus Victim Takes Plunge — Reader-Submitted Story and Photographs

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    My name is Heather Bodin, and I was diagnosed with a disease called lupus. I became symptomatic with my lupus in 2005. When I was working at Fullers in the deli, I noticed a lot of swelling in my joints so tight that it was hard to bend my knees. That eventually made me unable to work from all the swelling and pain I was experiencing.

    Doctors found the lupus in my DNA, which meant it was hereditary. They said they think I had it from when I was a child, but sometimes you don’t become symptomatic till years later.

    Lupus is an autoimmune disorder. Your immune system becomes compromised and, in turn, causes it to attack your body without anything being spared. It can affect your brain, muscles, joints, digestive system, nervous system, eyes, heart, kidneys and lungs. Mine has affected my joints and muscles, circulation, digestive system and also concentration.

    I get a foggy, hazy head, which is called lupus fog. My lupus has caused several other additional diseases, such as (1) fibromyalgia, which causes more pain and exhaustion on top of the lupus; (2) Sjogren’s Syndrome, which causes dry eyes and mouth. I have plugs in my eyes that produce tears for me as they no longer do it on their own; (3) scleroderma, which is a skin disease, as lupus causes skin problems as well; (4) irritable bowel syndrome, and several others.

    With my disease on board, I’ve had to learn to live life to my fullest and not let it take me down. I have had to learn to find a happy medium as I learn my physical limits. I’ve had to tell myself to enjoy every minute like it’s my last, and told myself I won’t let lupus stop me from fulfilling things in life I wanted to accomplish, such as traveling to Europe yearly to see my father, stepmother and family, spending time hunting with my family, and going to once-in-a-lifetime event such as the one I did Aug. 2, called Leap for Lupus.

    I went to Centralia Deli Steak & BBQ for a thank-you dinner from the co-owner, Tim Weible, who has made skydiving his life. Weible also owns Centralia Supply and Fabrication, and is an instructor at Skydive Toledo. He told me to go to a link called www.leapforlupus.org., so I did just that and called the number to ask about the program.

    I spoke with Valinda Mitchell, the creator of Leap for Lupus. She too has lupus and has been skydiving for 20 years, hoping to raise money to find a cure. Mitchell has had a rough go with her lupus as well. She has had lung hemorrhaging and kidney problems, to the extent she was told there was no way to pull her out of her lupus attack and there was nothing left they could do for her.

    She was put into a coma for a week so her body could rest. But she used her will to live and pulled herself out. Mitchell is an awesome woman, and with this event will find a cure for us someday. All proceeds from the jump go toward research for a cure. One day that will happen. I know it will; it has to.

    I now will join her in raising money for a cure. I jumped, and I loved every minute of it.

    Lupus is controlled by medication only. It helps to manage it, but not cure it. Most patients such as me are treated with prednisone. My body rejected that medicine, so I was put on an antimalarial drug called plaquenil, which can also cause trouble with my eyes.

   

    I currently take 18 pills a day, which is the low end amount for a lupus patient. I can’t take narcotics, and the pain hurts so much the only pain management that helps me are herbal remedies. Using those, I’ve managed to bring my pills to a cocktail of only 18 meds to treat all my symptoms.

    I played a song called “Diamonds in the Sky,” written by a man whose with a wife has lupus, as I was jumping from the plane. There was a diamond in the sky, shining bright, God telling me there is hope for a cure, and my granddaughter, Holly Harris, telling me she was with me.

    I had two reasons to do this, which were leaping for a great cause and being nearer to my angel Holly in heaven. Holly died two years ago from a heart disorder.

    I’ve always wanted to jump. There is too much meaning not to participate. I had a support team on the ground, which included several friends and family.

    I am a mother of two, Alex Bodin, 11, and Kimberly Haubrick, 22, and grandmother to Lily and Holly Harris, soon-to-be grandson Jaydon Greer, as well as wife to John Bodin for 13 years.

    This disease has been very taxing on our family, emotionally, physically and financially. We’ve had to deal with this together, which hasn’t been easy but has made our family so much stronger. I have lupus, lupus doesn’t have me, I say.

    Anyone interested can check out the Leap for Lupus link or contact me at hbodin@yahoo.com. You can jump yourself and/or make a donation-free jump for every $500 raised.

    I’m hoping to do this a lot more. I made a great friend with lupus, Mitchell, who joined me in my tandem jump with Brett, my instructor. We swooped together for a cure for lupus. I will never forget this special day.

    Last year’s jump raised $36,000, and I hope a cure happens in my lifetime. If not, it will benefit lupus patients such as myself, and I will always know in my soul that I helped, which is a rewarding feeling in itself.

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