Brianne's Story

A tale of battling lupus- by Devika, Aditi, and Carolyn

All About Brianne Fullerton!

Brianne Beth Fullerton lived with her family until her liver failed. She has six kids, no husband, and tries to juggle two jobs at a time to support her family. Some say her disease was caused by an unruly gene, but we believe that it was simply stress. Brianne got diagnosed with lupus around the age of 38. She has been suffering from it for about 2 years. After interviewing her, Brianne told us her dream vacation was to walk in the Disney parade of lights, but she could never afford to pay for herself, much less her entire family. We believe the Dream Team should give Brianne her wish, because it's about time this stressed woman finally understands how to have fun. Her children would stay at her oldest daughter's house. Brianne wants to go to Disney World because she met her husband there. Please give Brianne this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Upper left corner- Brianne two years before being diagnosed with lupus

Photography courtesy of Devika Sunil

So What is lupus?

Lupus, which stands for lupus erythematosus is an inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissues. There are more than 200,000 cases of lupus in the United States per year. Ages 19 and up are most affected by lupus, and it is found most commonly in women. Lupus cannot be cured, but being treated help the overall effect. The modern period of our understanding of this disease began in 1948, when Mayo Clinic hematologist Malcolm Hargraves discovered the lupus erythematosus (LE) cell. The word lupus is Latin for the word wolf, because the thirteenth century physician Rogerius used it to describe erosive facial injuries that looked similar to a wolf's bite. The word erythematosus is Greek for red, because it refers to the reddish color of the circular facial wounds.

What organs and organ systems does lupus affect?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect almost all organ systems and any part of the body, especially the skin, heart, lungs, and brain. The hallmark sign of lupus is a butterfly-shaped rash that often appears over the bridge of the nose and extends to the cheeks. A rash also may occur on the neck or chest, and the skin may appear scaly. Lupus can affect the entire digestive system, beginning with the mouth. People with lupus are prone to lesions on the inside of the cheeks, the lower lip, or the roof of the mouth. Lupus can also affect the entire circulatory systems because inflammation of the heart or blood vessels, which can interfere with blood flow. This can lead to heart attack, infection, and tissue death. The respiratory system can also be affected by lupus as it can hurt to breathe when the lungs or the linings of the chest cavity become inflamed. It also may cause shortness of breath and chest pain. Inflammation of lungs increases risk of pneumonia. When lupus affects the Central Nervous System (CNS), the restricted blood flow in the brain can cause dizziness, headaches, mood swings, and concentration problems. In rare cases, it can lead to seizures.

what are her typical treatments?

Brianne takes Aspirin regularly to control some of the symptoms of her disease. Aspirin is inexpensive and available over the counter and help her reduce the pain . Aspirin also has anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant (blood-thinning) properties. Doctors often prescribe anti-inflammatories for lupus patients. They help to treat symptoms such as fever, arthritis or pleurisy, which generally improve within several days of beginning treatment. Other medications for lupus include acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, anti-malarials and immuno suppressive medications .

What foods are she allowed to eat?

Brianne cannot eat alfalfa, because these sprouts contain an amino acid called L-canavanine, which can send your immune system into overdrive and flare up your lupus symptoms. Brianne also doesn’t eat red meat, only fatty fish because red meat is full of saturated fat, which can contribute to heart disease. On the other hand, fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines, are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that help protect against heart disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.They can also reduce inflammation in the body.That’s good news for people with lupus, who face a much higher risk for heart disease than the general population.Lastly, she is supposed to skip nightshade vegetables, because some people with lupus find that they’re sensitive to the nightshade vegetables. This includes white potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and eggplant.

What are the Pros and cons of this trip?

Pros -

* By taking this trip to Disney World, Brianne can fulfill her dream vacation.

* This will give her a relaxing trip to her favorite place and have fun.

* Brianne will finally get to see the place she met her husband at again.

Cons -

*The biggest focus here is that Brianne should be able to travel and maintain her health.

* Plain travel can make her lupus conditions worse.

What difficulties will she have when travelling and how to overcome these?

Special care need to be given to keep Brianne's lupus under control while traveling. As a lupus patient, Brianne experience fatigue often times and she need to take periods of rest throughout the day. Booking a hotel room close to the attractions will allow her to take naps when she needs to. Brianne should avoid the sun or use sufficient protection to while going out. Make arrangements to have her prescribed medications available during her trip. Brianne should either take her medicines with her or carry prescription orders that she can fill at a pharmacy locally. As a lupus patient, Brianne needs to take care of fevers or infections promptly. Call a doctor if temperature is over 99.6F because it could be a lupus flare or an infection.

What is the best format for travel?

Brianne is traveling by plane because it is a long drive otherwise to get to Florida. The reason why we chose this method of travel are because it will save time for travel, the airport will provide wheelchairs so Brianne won't have trouble breathing from walking and a doctor will be on the plane to help with Brianne's needs. The disadvantages for a plane travel for a lupus patient are that the cabin pressure can affect the lupus to cause flares or pain, it can gives her migraines and makes her a little achy and she can catch a cold after she land. Tips for Brianne during her flight are - try to rest on the plane, drink plenty of water, and wear comfy shoes.

Where will she be staying?

Brianne would stay at Comfort Suites Downtown in Orlando, Florida. We believe this is the best suited hotel for Brianne Beth Fullerton because it meets all her needs. This hotel serves a variety of foods, including Brianne's dietary items. The hotel is a smoke-free area, which is good, because cigarette smoke affects the heart, brain, and lungs, which are also affected by lupus. Another reason why this hotel is the best for Brianne is because it is right across the street from Florida Hospital. This in case of any major emergencies. For minor emergencies, Brianne has a specialist named Lindie Hollenbach. Nurse Hollenbach is always by Brianne's side, helping her. The last and final reason as to why this hotel is the best is because it is in the same town as Disney World, so travel is not a complication.

What precautions does she need to take?

Brianne has to be careful with her diet, exercise, and she has to make sure that she is not close to cigarette smoke. People with lupus should aim for a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In general, exercise helps the body control harmful inflammation, but it is always possible that over-exercising could cause a flare of symptoms- especially joint symptoms. Thanks to a broad range of research studies, it's clear that smoking complicates and accelerates the ill effects of lupus. It is also known that most of the negative effects are reversible when smoking stops. Smoking or being around people who smoke may increase the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia.