Because Lupus is a disease of a 1000 symptoms, the chances are you may need more than one type of doctor to oversee your care.
At the beginning of your Lupus journey the first port of call is obviously your GP or family doctor, but be prepared to be fobbed off / treated like a hypercondriac / not taken seriously for a while. Many GPs don’t seem to know very much about Lupus at all, possibly this is because there are so many different symptoms and every case seems to be slightly different
Once it becomes clear that a) you’re not making it all up and b) the symptoms aren’t going to just go away, your GP will hopefully realise the problem is out of their knowledge jurisdiction and they’ll move you on as quickly as possible. With a bit of luck you’ll eventually be referred on to a rheumatologist – a doctor who treat arthritis and other diseases that cause swelling in the joints.
Other ‘ologists’ you might meet along the way include: Clinical immunologists (doctors who treat immune system disorders), Nephrologists (kidney disease), Hematologists (blood disorders), Dermatologists (skin diseases), Neurologists (problems with the nervous system), Cardiologists (heart and blood vessel problems) and finally, Endocrinologists (doctors who treat problems related to the glands and hormones).
Unsurprisingly depression and dark thoughts are also a symptom of Lupus, so Psychologists are sometimes called into play.
Last, but by no means least are the nurses. In my experience you’ll probably see more of these when visiting your local rheumatology department than you will of the rheumatologist. They’ll be the ones weighing you in, taking your pot of wee, telling you the doctor won’t be ‘too long’ and taking your bloods. They also man the rheumatology ‘help line’ and keep an eye on your test result. Or at least I thought they were meant to.
I actually have a designated Lupus care nurse who I see every 6 months or so. From what I can gather, her job is to listen to me moan, let me sob all over the desk and generally try to make me feel better about life. I’m guessing this is because the mighty rheumatologist doesn’t want to waste his valuable time listening to me witter on in circles, or have a pile of damp tissues clogging up his desk.