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Entries in Walk for Lupus (6)

Sunday
Oct142012

Join Me or Donate As I Walk to Cure Lupus THIS SATURDAY at South Street Seaport!

 


DONATE HERE: www.walk.lupusresearch.org/goto/sgabriel


Join me as I walk for a cure for Lupus!

 
THIS SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20th, 2012
9:00am
SOUTH STREET SEAPORT, NYC
 

On Saturday, October 20th, 2012, I will be participating in the 2012 New York City Walk with Us To Cure Lupus Walkathon. Join me in the fight against lupus by making a pledge on my behalf, or becoming a member of my team and walking alongside me and my team, Creative Movement (http://walk.lupusresearch.org/goto/creativemovementnyc).

The ALR Walk with Us To Cure Lupus Walkathon is a national event that changes lives and brings people together in the quest to end the suffering caused by lupus. Because ALR?s Board of Directors funds all administrative and fundraising costs, 100% of your donation will go to fund research into lupus - a devastating autoimmune disease. 


For more information, email me at info@shanellegabriel.com.

Donate here:
www.walk.lupusresearch.org/goto/sgabriel

 

Wednesday
Oct192011

Sha-Geezy's October Update! :)

Some great things are in the works! I've been back and forth to Atlanta working on new material, but November, I finally get to show NYC some love! For those of you outside the Tri-State, don't worry, I have a few things for you as well. 

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NYC- WALK FOR LUPUS- Saturday, Oct. 22 @ 9am- Battery Park

This Saturday is the big day! Join me and the great folk at the Alliance for Lupus Research as we participate in the NYC Walk for Lupus in Battery Park at 9am. DJ Kraff Swagger will be creating the soundtrack for the day, and there'll be free refreshments and a performance by yours truly! Hope you can make it out and/or make a donation. Anything will help, from $5 to $500. Click here to find out more information:http://walk.lupusresearch.org/goto/ShanelleGNYC2011

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Check Out My Interview!

Get to know me a lil better through my cool interview with Ms. Truth from http://sealedkiss.blogspot.com. Learn about my views on education, inspiration, and guys that get on my nerves. :)

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NYC (WITH LUPE FIASCO!)- Monday, Nov 7th: Terminal 5 (610 West 56th Street) @ 6pm

"Girl I want you to knooow, I can't get you outta my head, my head." 


Yes, I'll be performing with the Cool, the dope Lupe Fiasco as I host and feature in the Moving Minds Benefit Concert on Monday, November 7th at Terminal 5 in NYC. Also, holding it down will be fellow Brooklynite and vocal diva, Maya Azucena. Doors open at 6pm. Tickets on sale at www.transformamerica.org/tickets.


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Montclair, NJ- Saturday, Nov 19th: Memorial Auditorium, Montclair State University @ 6pm

I'm bringing the soooouuulll to the "Rock and Soul Concert," a two part concert that crosses genres.

The first part of the concert consists of the jamming rock bands Those Mockingbirds and Black Water. For the second show we will bring you soul, R&B and hip-hop by Jesse Idol, J Mello, and yours truly. I'll be performing some new music, so you can't miss this!

Tickets for the Rock Show are $15, the Soul Show are $15 and tickets for both are $22.50. Purchase them here: http://rockandsoulconcert.eventbrite.com

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As always keep checking www.shanellegabriel.com and www.twitter.com/ShanelleG for newness and updates!

 

Much love,


Sha-Geezy

Monday
May162011

My Battle With Lupus- Part 5: Accepting Lupus; Accepting Life

 

One of the hardest things about Lupus is that your mind thinks you are the person you've been for the last __ amount of years, but your body becomes this unpredictable thing that contradicts who you feel you are. You've been a track star all your life; all of a sudden you get this disease that now makes you feel as if you're just "a person with Lupus." It changes the way you view yourself. You were once this strong, invincible being and now you're this fragile, achy weakling. Your optimism is challenged with every flare and bad test result. You feel as if you don't have control of your body so you can't possibly have control of your future. Every day is "Lord willing." It's so easy to slip into depression or get stressed out. Ironically, stress triggers Lupus flares so you end up worrying yourself even more sick. You go from seeing doctors once a year for a check up, to seeing one every few weeks, giving a gallon of blood each visit, and running tests anticipating further complications. How do you deal?

I went back to Utica College for my second semester in 2005. I already felt like I was on my own, so I acted as such. I didn't let people know about what I was going through on a daily basis, even when my pericarditis returned. I think one person saw me walk back to my dorm from class really, really slowly, clutching my chest, and asked what was wrong. I doubt I gave her a real answer. I'd still wake in the middle of the night to put a hot washcloth on my chest repeatedly so I could go back to sleep. I noticed this mainly happened on busier days, and I started to make a connection with how my body felt and how my day went. I went to the college medical office and the doctor gave me Arthrotec which cleared it up right away. I think around that time was when I began to see the value in taking my medications EVERY day and on time. (I used to miss doses pretty often.)

When I finally realized that being a part of so many organizations was draining me both physically and emotionally (the drama I was having with my sorority and with the radio station was just too much on top of everything else) I began to be able to predict the nights and mornings that would be difficult for me. That made me honestly say to myself that I needed to slow down a bit. I took a long hard thought about what made ME feel good and not what I wanted to prove to everyone. I defined myself by how 'necessary' I was to others and to my college. Being a part of all these things made me feel important and kept my mind off my ailment. However, what actually made me happy and gave me peace? I finally confessed to my dance team that I had Lupus and that that was why I avoided practicing 'full out.' I missed some campus parties to spend the night in relaxing, watching The Muppets Take Manhattan or the Matrix Trilogy in a robe while sipping on sparkling cider. (Calming, huh?) I learned to say no to organizations that needed my help but would really put me out of my way. I eventually stepped down as choir director. Instead of focusing on the sorority drama on my campus, I focused on the community service required and found healthy sisterly bonds with Sorors and other Greeks elsewhere that made me remember why I joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc in the first place. I stopped fighting my body and overcompensating for the fear of losing these titles that defined me. I zeroed in on the organizations that best fit me and where my heart was. It became less about keeping busy and more about impact. (Thanks for opening my eyes to this, Paul Lehman.) I started to speak to a few people about what I was going through: Carolyn Carstensen, Alane Varga, Ken Kelly, and a local Lupus support group where I was the only person under 35 there. I realized that at the end of the day, I have to take care of myself and surround myself with people who want the best for me. Lupus doesn't define me. It's a part of me. When you let something define you, it controls you. I do not want Lupus to control me or my thinking. The fact that I am walking and speaking and living means I'm capable to be more than just a person with a chronic illness. Lupus is a part of my life. I had to stop fighting it and start working with it. 

 

Wednesday
May112011

My Battle With Lupus- Part 2: The Happy Doctor with the Diagnosis

It was my first time seeing my PCP, Dr Mahoney since I'd just changed insurance companies. He tried to do all the preliminaries and I interrupted him. "Look at this!" He examines my scalp, then pulls away confused. He looks again, asks a few questions that I said no to, and then proceeds to write notes with a baffled look on his face. I think to myself "Oh no! I have one of those diseases that, like, 3% of the world population have!" I offer suggestions to help his loss for ideas on what my hair loss could be. 

"Could it be stress?" 

"It wouldn't look like that."

 "Um, I had a relaxer a month ago. I know it didn't burn, but maybe…" 

"No, you'd have at least a scab."

He's rubbing his forehead staring into his notes. I give up suggesting things and he decides to run some blood tests. On my way out, I mention that I had a few other complaints but we could get to it after we figure out what's wrong with my scalp. I'm not one to get people worked up, so I told my mom the doctor said I'll be fine. When my answer sufficed for her, I stopped thinking about it.

I return a week after and Dr. Mahoney is ecstatic. He immediately sits down and says, "Shanelle, I think I've got it. Do you know what Lupus is?" He's like a kid who discovers a tub of water balloons on a hot summer day. I say no, then correct myself. "Yes. Mercades from America's Next Top Model has it." He runs off a checklist of symptoms. Low and behold, my list of issues above were ALL listed on the 11 symptoms of a Lupus patient. The blood work supported this theory, but I needed a rheumatologist to officially diagnose me. In walks Dr Dvorkina, a blond-haired, bright eyed, sweet Russian lady with a heavy accent. Dr Mahoney introduces us, and Dr D goes straight to work flipping lab results, touching joints, squeezing my fingers, and asking questions. She then looks on my face. "Look at the Butterfly." I'm confused because the last time I was on South Beach, I KNOW at the last minute I said no to that tattoo. "It's just a dark area on and by the bridge of your nose. It's said to resemble a butterfly. Dear… Yes, you have Lupus." She schedules another appointment, tells me to get off birth control (darn, back to having cramps again), and speaks about medications. I'm relieved. "Whew, it's a disease they have medicine for. I'll be fine." I go to work. Yes, I get diagnosed with a chronic illness and I decide to go to work. SMH...

I get to work, which was a record store called Beat Street in downtown Brooklyn. I tell my co-worker of my doctor visit and results. Her hands flutter to her mouth. "Shanelle, my aunt died from Lupus." Um, okay. Not the best response for someone newly diagnosed. I hadn't even had time to google it. She seemed concerned for me but I figured her aunt was older which made it harder like adults with chicken pox. I head home and my internet was acting up (darn dial-up), so I went into my handy dandy Encyclopedia Brittanica from, oh, 1989. I look for the section on Lupus. Very accurate information on the symptoms, however the prognosis written there said "Most cases of Lupus result in death." I close the book, and still refuse to face my mortality. I told my family and they didn't believe it. Me having Lupus would make me the first person in our ENTIRE immediate family to have anything other than asthma and skin allergies. They told me to go for a second opinion. My mom just felt like I needed to rest because I'm always so busy. I get the second opinion from a Rheumatologist in Park Slope and she confirms it. I start taking Plaquenil and Procardia, the first of many drugs.

(Continued tomorrow- Part 3: Never Let Em See You Sweat)

Tuesday
May102011

May is Lupus Awareness Month... Here's My Lupus Story (Part 1)

Today, May 10th, 2011 is World Lupus Day!

It almost feels wrong to put an exclamation point at the end of that header especially because Lupus tends to cause a person to not feel so !. However, it's beautiful to know that one day out of the year, us Lupies get some love.

In honor of Lupus Awareness Month (and World Lupus Day- May 10th), I'm telling my Lupus story in a series of blogs throughout this week. I'll speak about being diagnosed, complications, my personal battle, as well as where I am with Lupus now. Hopefully this will give some insight on what Lupus is and the way it impacts a person's life. 

Part 1 : The Magically Appearing Symptoms

In 2004, I was diagnosed with SLE Lupus. When did it start? I'm not quite sure. The earliest abnormal thing that I remember is getting these severe headaches on random nights that would awake me out of sleep. I'd have been asleep for several hours, and my eyes would just dart open out of nowhere in pain. It hurt so bad that I'd cry myself back to sleep. I went to my college medical office where I was told "It's probably a sinus headache," and given Sudafed. (Score 1- Lupus, 0-Medical Practitioner). 

Later, I would notice that getting out of bed started getting harder, not because I was a college sophomore partying every night. I wasn't. I'd try to go to bed different hours of the evening and night, hoping to find the right time and the correct amount of hours to make me feel rested. To no avail. I almost had a narcoleptic style of sleeping. I could sleep anywhere, at any given time: in class, behind the register at work, on a party bus (hey, I was tired), in the cafeteria, wherever my body required it. And I couldn't control it. I was ALWAYS tired…but I attributed it to just being busy. I couldn't fathom that anything was wrong with me. I ignored the joint pain in the morning that seemed to cause a slight "pimp walk" on my right side. I ignored the fact that my roommate on a few occasions had to put my bookbag on my shoulder because my wrists hurt too much to pick it up myself. When she said, "Shanelle, something is wrong," I explained "I'm probably just sore from practice with my hip-hop dance team." I figured I couldn't donate blood because I was anemic "like most women are." I ignored the American flag colors my fingers would turn in the cold. Hey, I went to school Upstate New York. That weather is liable to do something to you, right? Wrong. When I came back to NYC for the summer, riding the train more than two stops was painful for me because the air conditioning would cause my feet and hands to go numb and hurt. Crazy, huh?

So what finally made me go to the doctor for a diagnosis? It was summer break from college, I assumed all these symptoms would go away with rest in my own bed. Those evil twin beds were the problem, and my Queen-sized pillow top would provide the necessary healing. A few weeks past and I forgot what it felt like to feel normal in the mornings. I was preparing to go out one weekday in June, and I noticed something felt different as I combed my hair. I got a hand mirror to see what it was and THERE! Two patches of hair were gone right in the middle of my scalp. Clean like a baby's bottom. No scabs, no redness, nothing. It almost had a shine to it. I yelled "MOM!!!" and she came running like I said Oprah was giving away free trips to her show. I showed her and she suggested I go to the doctor. I made an appointment that day. If it wasn't for vanity…

(Continued tomorrow- Part 2: The Happy Doctor with the Diagnosis)