This isn’t something I talk about much. It’s not that I’m overly concerned about my privacy, in fact I’m all for sharing and educating people about my disease. It’s one of those “Oh but you look fine!” diseases. Hi I’m Laura and I have lupus.
I was diagnosed with SLE lupus in 2002 after several misdiagnoses when I had wicked, crushing, unending pain in my wrists and a stabbing pain in my side when I took a deep breath in. It was torture. I was in the army reserves at the time and had to do push ups on my knuckles because I couldn’t flatten my hand to do push-ups.
It took a few years but I finally got a diagnosis. I had a lost a lot of weight when I was first sick (although I was still bigger than most girls in high school) and when the doctor put me in 60mg of prednisone I just ballooned. It was not fun. Clothes didn’t fit. My face especially was huge (very typical of prednisone). The only good part was I wasn’t in pain. I can’t remember a lot to be honest, I lived my life 20lb more than I had been, hating how I looked and going to school and doing the army thing part time. And riding of course. I had a wonderful dressage coach who literally welcomed me with open arms when I showed up at her barn in tears one day.
Fast forward to being in my current career which I was super lucky to get into, lupus and all. I lost weight in training and I kept running and workout doing strength training, running half marathons, generally working out for the last 15 years.
In 2014 I had a flare, a term for a resurfacing if lupus symptoms. It. Sucked. It hurt to breathe. My hands ached like they were in a vice. I had to use two hands to turn a doorknob. My knees hurt walking up stairs. I was out of breath after one flight of stairs. One day I was running a 10 minute mile for 2 miles the next I couldn’t run for 2 minutes. I didn’t have the strength in my hands to hold and clean my horses feet. True story.
The lupus clinic I went to offered me a chance to be part of a drug trial. If ya’ll ever need a thorough medical, join a drug trial!! They are very thorough. They did all sorts of tests but warned me that I would be excluded from the trial if the lupus had affected my kidneys. They found out during the trial that it did, so I was excluded but once again the doctor put me back on prednisone at a super high dose to get the disease under control. And a new kidney medication. And once again it sucked. And I gained weight like crazy. Like another 20lb.
Work was very good to me and I only took 3 months off. But I was doing 2 hours of cardio a day and still putting on weight. Talk about one step forward and three steps back. Suddenly I had fat where there wasn’t any. I went from a size 12 to an 18 in no time. It. Sucked.
Prednisone is not fun and docs made sure to get me to the lowest dose possible as soon as they could. I take an anti-malarial drug, a kidney drug, a blood pressure drug (it’s imports to have extra low blood pressure with dickie kidneys) and prednisone. I’ve been on 5mg for years and years and unfortunately last week my doctor was not happy with how my blood work looked and jacked it up to 15mg. And once again I have to be extra cautious about what I’m eating and working out extra hard.
So the point of this post is although I work my ass off with working out and eat well as much as I can, and facing the equestrian community of normal size rides, I’m still a plus size rider in a very judgmental and image-centric sport. I knew I’m not alone in struggling to find riding clothes that doesn’t make my back fat stand out or doesn’t give me a muffin top. I tried on a pair of high end brand of breeches recently at the Royal that I’ve been dying to try out. My bestie assured me they looked fine but I lifted my shirt to show my muffin top. Well, they do up, but if I buy them they would have sat in the closest for forever or until I lose 20lbs, whichever comes first. So I saved myself some coin and didn’t get them. Shout out to Stuck Apparel, I wish your breeches came in one or two sizes bigger. And to my bestie Nicole for being so supportive.
I did try on another high end brand, Romph and was super happy to find I fit a size 36. Sometimes a 36 doesn’t fit and sometimes it does. Can we all get on the same page for clothing sizes? And a big F U to Horseware (half joking.) I love how they stuff looks but their sizing is a joke! I regularly wear my Smart Pak breeches and thank you SP for making these available at such an affordable price with cute colour options in sizes over 30. High five to Smart Pak! PS, please ship to Canada. Thank you.
So girls. I see you struggling. I know you’re trying to embrace the “body positivity” wave and show yourself as you are and never mind what people say, you keep doing you but deep down you wish you could wear Struck breeches and show shirt that doesn’t cling to certain spots. We are a team. We need to support each other and encourage each other to be the best we can be. And that’s not alway being ok with what we are today. And it means being ok with where we are today. If you want me to help you pick a goal or cheer for your workout today I will be there. If you want me to justify that second piece of homemade baklava, I will slap it out of your want if you want or share it with you. It’s being a team and sharing healthy recipes and supporting each other to be the best you can be. Prednisone or no prednisone. Size 2 or size 20. We are in this crazy equestrian world together for the love of horse and we all want to be the best we can be.