Beckie Kengle
Beckie Kengle {NOT FOR HIRE}
Recently diagnosed with advanced systemic lupus erythematosus and systemic sclerosis. I'm just a girl trying to navigate the waters of living life with multiple life-altering autoimmune diseases. This is my online journal, of sorts, (more for myself to look back on) that I'm sharing for anyone who would like to follow my journey.

I'm a wife of almost 20 years to My Loving Man who is so amazing and supportive, and a proud mama to two wonderful children (ages 17 and 11)! I manage our family-owned self-storage facility by day.

(Any pictures posted here are shot with Nikon or iPhone. I'm a Nikon girl, all the way! I shoot with the following gear...D700, 60mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, 35mm f/2, 70-300mm f/4-5.6! I also love to play around with phone-ography on my iPhone SE!)

“When was the last time you felt normal?”

When I met my rheumatologist for the first time, he asked me this question…”When was the last time you felt normal?”. I had to think about that for a few minutes, and feeling pressed for an answer I blurted out “Probably about 6 years ago.”. But the more I got to thinking about it a few weeks later, I think it was probably closer to 7 or 8 years ago.

In late 2008, I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis. It was quite painful and led to my partial hysterectomy in October 2009 (partial = just my uterus and cervix because at 31 I was too young to go into surgical menopause). However, even with a partial hysterectomy, my hormones had changed.

After my hysterectomy is when things started changing for me. I had always just assumed that it was because I no longer had a uterus balancing out my hormones, but now looking back, I feel like it was more than that. I never felt the same after that day.

Fatigue slowly started hitting me at weird and random times. Nothing major; I would just get tired doing things that normally wouldn’t tire me. Random bouts of nausea and/or diarrhea would make me miserable, sometimes for nights and weeks on end. Heartburn would make sleeping so difficult. And then there would be the random pain. No rhyme or reason for it; it would just be there and some days it would linger and some days it would go away.

I dealt with these seemingly small issues for years (from approximately mid 2009-December 2014). They were all minor for the most part and didn’t seem to be connected, so I didn’t really think much of it, until December 2014 when I saw a doctor for some headaches that started happening more frequently. It turned out my blood pressure had gone back up (I had severe pre-eclampsia with both pregnancies). During this visit, she gave me a lab slip for some routine stuff as well as an arthritis panel and she also wanted to check my rheumatoid factor (as I had complained of some of my pain). I was to come back in 2 weeks for follow up.

When I went back for my follow up appointment, it was determined that I did, in fact, have a very high ANA (auto-nuclear antibody) level, but my rheumatoid factor was negative so far (thank goodness!). So this started the process of finding me a rheumatologist. Who knows how long the ANA had been high, and to what extent my body had already taken an internal beating (so to speak).

My point in all of this is this, if you don’t feel well, and something doesn’t feel quite right, listen to your body. Only you know you best. And if you’re concerned, make the appointment for that physical that you’ve been putting off. Give yourself some peace of mind.


Mardi I agree with this! I think a lot of people just 'don't have time' to see a doctor or just don't want to know if something is wrong or just can't afford it (which is sad and ridiculous and something I can definitely relate to). But it's SO important to do what you can to get looked at. A lot of diseases can get worse over time and you don't want to suddenly have some incurable, life threatening disease (like cancer) that was totally curable and preventable if you had just seen a doctor when the symptoms first started. [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us '0 which is not a hashcash value.

Note to self:

So, I got a tattoo last Saturday (September 3rd). It’s a memorial tattoo for my dad who died 16 years on September 19th.

I had it all planned out what I wanted for this tattoo for my dad, to go on my right forearm, opposite the memorial tattoo for my mom. I had saved up the money for a few months, and finally was able to get a date scheduled. Now, I had two tattoos done back in April, and I was already sick, but undiagnosed, and not medicated. And while of course they weren’t necessarily pleasant, but besides some overstimulation afterwards (I have sensory processing issues), I wasn’t really any worse for wear when I was finished.

This tattoo experience, however, was an entirely different story! But I didn’t know that going into it. I honestly hadn’t the tiniest clue that this experience would be any different. After all, I was using the same artist, I was still sick, and this time I was on meds, so I should be better. Right?


Now, there are many different factors that played into what caused me to go into my flare last weekend. But I believe that my medication and the fact that I am more sick now than I was 6 months ago played a big part. But let me tell the whole story…

We did the tattoo in two parts, the black lettering and then a 5-minute break and then started on the color. After the lettering was done (which happened to be my dad’s signature from his original military orders in 1960 from when he was in the Marines), we took a 5-minute break so the artist could prep the color and get my input for what I wanted for the design. I had showed him a picture of what I wanted before we started, and he liked my idea, but I had said he could put his own spin on it. He got started on the color, and the way I was laying on the table I couldn’t really see what he was doing. But I trusted him, as he did my other two, and he free-handed the tree on my leg, which turned out beautifully, and while the bird on my arm was drawn by my sister, he did add some color very gracefully. So, I trusted him. When I looked up again, however, the design had turned into something completely different than what we had discussed, but it was already too late to stop what was happening. Inside I was devastated and crying, because my memorial tattoo for my dad is now nothing at all what I wanted, and I am stuck with this permanently. He finishes the tattoo; I pay him because I am too upset to even say anything, and My Loving Man and I leave.

As the evening goes by, I am already starting to become sick at this point, I cannot look at the tattoo (which should be very special to me) because it was not at all what I expected. I realize that it was all my fault, because I should’ve printed out a picture of the design I wanted so it was right in front of him; I should’ve paid more attention to what he was doing, rather than trying to relax. I begin to become very depressed about it. Depression is something that runs deep in my family, but I personally have never dealt with it. Even with both of my parents dying, and both of my kids being born prematurely and their health issues , and all of the health issues that My Loving Man and I have dealt with over the last 20 years. So this was a first for me.

Overall, I feel like the illnesses, the meds (the methotrexate and the prednisone), and the depression I was experiencing, is what caused my body to go into my first real autoimmune flare (since my diagnoses). I was sick (fever, chills, hot flashes, major fatigue, nausea, diarrhea) for about 6 days. It was a very difficult week.

And to top it all off, it seems as though my body is now rejecting the tattoo in some places, making my arm look so ugly. Some of the ink is being pushed out. Nearly all of the black lettering is now almost gone (faded). Almost as if it were an old tattoo. Parts of the colored areas are so blistered, and feels like my skin was burned with acid. My skin is sunken in, blistered, and weeping pus and color (and I am 8 days post tattoo). I can tell that it is going to take weeks for it to heal, instead of the normal 5-10 days.

Note to self: no more tattoos for this girl, unfortunately. And I really would love to try to get this one fixed, but I just don’t see how that would be a very good idea without getting sick again, or the possibility of my body rejecting it again. I am still so sad about how this tattoo turned out. I keep going over it all in my head “if only I had printed out that picture; if I had been more specific; if I had just told him that I wanted it to be dainty like my other one; if I had just been paying more attention; if…if…if…” But to move forward and get out of the funk of this depression, I need to do my best to quit dwelling on the ‘shoulda-coulda-wouldas’. But I am still having a very hard time looking at this tattoo. 🙁

For now I’m not posting any pictures of it. I had one posted up on my personal Instagram, but I deleted it. I may add a picture at some point, but I’m just not ready yet.


“deactivate forcefields in 3…2…1”

This morning I officially started my methotrexate treatments. I did have a dose at my rheumatologist’s office last week, but today was the first dose that I gave myself at home. While it was a little weird giving myself an injection, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, though I don’t think I got it in quite the right spot. But hey, this was my first time after all.

But now starts the break down of my immune system (as if it wasn’t already totally screwed up, right?). Because methotrexate is an immune system suppressant, it won’t be long before I have little immune system left, which means that it won’t take much for me to get sick. I am not looking forward to that at all! Especially in my line of work where I deal with a good amount of the public on a daily basis. But I’m just going to have to stock up on hand sanitizer and face masks. And if you’re sick, and you try to come visit me at my house, be prepared to be turned away because I don’t want your germs in my house! Just saying! =P

So methotrexate was originally designed as a cancer drug. And in research it was found that in low doses it could help treat some autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile dermatomyositis, sarcoidosis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. I’m not super excited about some of its side effects though: nausea, fatigue, hair loss, increased risk of infections, fever, low white blood cell count, breakdown of the skin inside of the mouth, severe skin rashes, lymphoma, liver disease, and lung disease. Yikes!! But I’m praying that with such low doses that I won’t be getting too many of those side effects.

One day at a time, though. That is how I am doing my best to take all of this in. The pain, the fatigue, the information, the medication. Because I know that each day will be different, and that there will be good days and bad days and worse days. And I just need to take them in stride.

Photo Aug 24, 6 17 43 AM

All images owned and copyrighted by Beckie G Kengle. Do NOT copy, save, or print. For image use, please contact me at



The Calm in My Storm

As I continue to research systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis and mixed connective tissue disease, it gets a little more daunting with each new article or post that I find. Especially knowing that I have been going through this, undiagnosed, for about 3-4 years now (possibly longer), and seeing how a lot of the conditions that I have been recently diagnosed with are all connected to each other. Knowing that I could very likely end up with Rheumatoid Arthritis is not appealing to me at all, but it’s a very real possibility. And it scares the crap out of me knowing how debilitating it can be.

BUT…I also know who my God is! And while this is all so scary and uncertain, I know He is here to be the calm in my storm. I just need to remember this when I get low. As Pastor Rick said in his sermon at church last night “sometimes He chooses to calm the storm, and sometimes He chooses to calm the child”, honestly, I’ll take either one right now. I mean, healing would be an awesome miracle and testimony! But even just having the knowledge that He is here with me, by my side, and calming me when I get worked up about how things are going, and how they could turn out, gives me peace of mind.

We sang a song during worship last night, that literally brought tears to my eyes as I was singing it. For those who may not know, I am on our small worship team. I almost couldn’t continue singing, because I began to get choked up while singing this song, because it spoke to me. Strange how it didn’t affect me this way at all while we were practicing it, but it really struck me during our actual worship service. It’s called Great Are You Lord. I’ll type the words here and also link you the song on youtube.

Click HERE to listen to the song on youtube. (I apologize in advance to whatever ad youtube decides to play before the song)

Great Are You Lord 
words and music by Jason Ingram, Leslie Jordan, and David Leonard

You give life, You are love, You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore every heart that is broken
Great are You Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to you only

And all the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry these bones will sing, great are You Lord!


And with that, I will leave you with this gorgeous sunset that I captured on the way home from church last night.

Photo Aug 21, 7 46 00 PM

photo taken with my iPhone SE and edited with PicTapGo app on my phone

All images owned and copyrighted by Beckie G Kengle. Do NOT copy, save, or print. For image use, please contact me at





Napa is beautiful! (I didn’t think to get picture of something other than my feet, though)

I had another rheumatology appointment in Napa yesterday (August 17th). I am very sad that it was the last one with my current doctor; I really liked him. (he is moving to San Jose and taking his part of the practice with him.) I was wishing today that I had the energy to drive even further each time I needed to see the rheumatologist, because I like him so much, I would go to San Jose to see him. But tomorrow I am going to call around to the surrounding areas nearest me and see if I can find a doctor closer to me that might be willing to take me on as a patient (basically, they need to take MediCal, because according to their online profiles, they are all accepting new patients), because ultimately, the drive is wiping me out physically (for obvious reasons) and financially (even in our more gas-friendly car).

waiting to see rheumatologist in Napa

So diving into the appointment, yesterday’s appointment was another difficult one. After last month’s appointment my doctor had me do some blood work in Napa before I went home. It was another very specialized test. It’s called a myositis panel. It’s checking for very specific autoantibodies. All of mine came back negative except for one. One called ribonucleoprotein. This autoantibody is associated with mixed connective tissue diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and systemic sclerosis (scleroderma); both of which I have! My doctor said “this does confirm the mixed connective tissue disease, and also confirms that what you’re feeling is not just in your head; that you’re not going crazy.” Which, quite honestly, there were some days that I really felt like I had (gone crazy)! He did also say, though, that my numbers were such that my disease is quite progressed and it’s going to be aggressive, and that I will need to be concerned about rheumatoid arthritis, and since I carry the gene (my mom had RA), my likelihood of getting RA will be very high. So we will be watching for those symptoms. My rheumatoid factor has remained negative up to this point, though, so that is a plus!

At my last visit, they taught me how to administer the weekly injections of the methotrexate treatment he ordered (the one that was denied by the insurance). Turns out it is less than $20 per month for this treatment, so at least it’s affordable. (off topic: I have decided to appeal their decision to deny this medication since it is something that I’ll likely need to be on for the rest of my life; we’ll see how that goes.) Anyway, back on topic, I start giving myself these injections next Wednesday. I am a little nervous as I have never had to give myself any kind of injection before. I have tested my blood sugar before (there was a brief moment a couple years ago when my primary physician thought I might have low blood sugar issues so he gave me a glucose meter), but that’s different, and quite easy. Not at all like having to stick a needle in your gut every week. I am just thankful that they’re weekly injections and not daily! Yikes!

I am still trying to process all of this. This life-changing information. There were a few days where I thought I had; where I thought “I got this”, and then as I continue my research (because I want to learn everything that I can about these diseases), my heart sinks even further. Especially when I’m connecting the dots with conditions that I already have (ie: last fall I was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus and severe GERD).

But I am still trying to do my best to not let it get me down. Trying to stay positive, and just get through one day at a time. Because I know that God has a bigger plan for me in all of this. I may not know what it is just yet (and maybe I will never know), but ultimately I want His will in all of this, whatever it may be.

Until next time….

All images owned and copyrighted by Beckie G Kengle. Do NOT copy, save, or print. For image use, please contact me at