Festival Pledge - Teresa's Story Back
In November of 2002 my wife, Teresa, was diagnosed with Lupus, a chronic disease of the autoimmune system. It was a relief to finally have an answer for the months of agony she had endured. She had suffered from terribly painful and swollen joints, severe fatigue, and a white raw tongue. She also had a blotchy skin condition that extended from her waist to her feet, and cuts that wouldn't heal. I had to help her out of bed, down stairs, and up from her chair, because the pain was so intense. We went to our family doctor who suspected Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Thrush, and a myriad of other conditions whose symptoms were all very similar. Then one morning I heard Teresa crying in the bedroom, and ran in to see what might be wrong. Her fingers had swollen so dramatically during the night that she couldn't get the rings off her fingers!
After several hours and lots of cold water and soap, she finally got them off. She still hasn't been able to get one ring back on her hand. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Several days later she awoke with her feet and ankles so swollen it looked like the skin would burst. In tears, and in fear, we went to the emergency room of our local hospital, where they proceeded to take several vials of blood to test for Meningitis, Lyme disease, and Hepatitis. No clearly defined condition showed up. In desperation we returned to our family doctor and Teresa asked to be referred to a Rheumatologist, since what she suffered from most were swollen and aching joints throughout her body. The specialist did a complete blood count (CBC) to see if the condition may be related to Rheumatoid Arthritis, Microscopic Polyarteritis, or Lupus. The results came back as Lupus with slight overlap of Microscopic Polyarteritis. On November 8, 2002, Teresa began taking Prednisone for Lupus. On November 12, 2002, feeling as good as she had in months, Teresa went for tests to determine if the Lupus had affected any organs. The next day, Friday the 13th, Teresa received a call from her doctor at work. The Lupus had caused an inflammation in her kidneys. She was admitted to the hospital that night, and began a regimen of intravenously administered Prednisone. Two days later she had a kidney biopsy that showed the extent of her kidney inflammation. The diagnosis has been followed by six months of chemotherapy, which along with six other medications has succeeded in getting the disease in remission. Lupus has no cure. She continues to take five medications, two of which will be taken for the rest of her life. Teresa went through a year-long maintenance program with a medicine (Cellcept) used originally to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients. Remission is a very good thing. The hope is that the disease doesn't flare up.
When I began organizing this festival I was thinking that I wanted to bring an awareness of a most enjoyable type of music to the area. But Teresa and I went to a "What is Lupus" presentation and I realized there was a much greater reason for my organizing this festival.
There is real need for people to become aware of this disease. And if music is the vehicle through which this can be accomplished, so be it! I am hoping everyone has the time of his or her life and that we are able to shed some light on this serious disease. Right now we can control the disease, let's do all we can to find a cure.
A portion of the proceeds for Smoked Country Jam will go to the Lupus Foundation of Pennsylvania. We will be having a 3-day Lupus Auction during the festival with hopes of raising a few more dollars, and will have a booth staffed by members of the Lupus Foundation, to answer questions, give information, and sell Lupus Foundation merchandise to benefit their organization.