The first series of House was shown on tv here just after I was diagnosed with lupus. In that first series, and through most of the second series, lupus got a mention in almost every episode. No matter what the symptoms of the medical mystery the episode focussed on, lupus was at some stage suspected.
It was a bit shocking for my kids. I was reading all I could about my condition, and realised it could do all kinds of strange and apparently unrelated things. Most of those things were unlikely to happen once the condition was diagnosed and being treated. Every week, they would ask: "could lupus really do that?" And every week, I would have to acknowledge, that yes, lupus could do that, but it wasn't likely to do that to me - what was being shown on tv was what could happen if the disease continued undiagnosed and untreated. My doctors and my medicines would make sure these horrible things didn't happen to me.
When I was looking for shoes - I went shopping with a friend who had diabetes, and my son was with us. The shop assistant asked if we had any conditions affecting our feet, and we each told her what our chronic illnesses were. The shop assistant said, "My mother's got lupus, she's dying..." and began a detailed account of her mother's condition. My friend cut her off, saying: "but that's not going to happen to Iris, she's doing everything right to look after herself."
The look on my son's face told he he's heard far too much. When the shop assistant was out of site, he asked me why lupus (and my friend's diabetes) could affect what shoes we wore. I explained that there was a thing called vasculitis which could affect people with chronic illnesses if we didn't look after our feet properly. It could be very serious, so we were making sure we would not get it.
It's hard for kids. Mine are much older now. At 17 and 19, they are well and truly able to handle most things. But at 13 and 15, it was harder. There was no point in trying to protect them from hearing the possible bad things - they would hear it no matter what. My only option was to explain as simply and as honestly as I could and reassure them that everything was being done to ensure the really bad stuff would not happen to me.