Hallucination. It's a side effect of drugs used to treat systemic lupus erythematosus. It's also the title Kim Green chose for her book about that very disease. The one she is living with.
When asked about the title, the Gwinnett resident who was diagnosed in 2003, said, "I was mortified to see that a drug I would take would possibly cause hallucinations. On a second look, I could see in my own life places that I had hallucinated about what was really there and what was projected by me."
Approximately 1.5 million Americans and more than five million people worldwide are dealing with and reacting to lupus in ways similar to Green's experience. Ninety percent of them are women. There are three times as many black women than white women with the disease and it is also more common among Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. Eighty percent of these cases develop among women of childbearing age, including Green, who is the mother of a young son.
So much for the statistics, which is not what Green chose to focus on in "Hallucinations." Instead, she chose to portray lupus -- and more importantly, life -- by way of a novel.
"Most of the books about lupus are books about medication and some surface ways of coping and perhaps some things to avoid. I wanted to write a novel, first and foremost, with lupus being a key element in the story. However, my intention was that the story was not completely about lupus. I wanted to write a book about the inner life of a woman who suffers from a chronic illness," Green said.
She also wanted to address more universal themes like religion, authenticity and self-esteem. In her novel, she tries to present lupus as a character her heroine Morgan has to live with as she evaluates relationships, explores medical options and deals with life in general. She reveals that the other characters, though well-meaning and sympathetic, have their own baggage to deal with and Green attempts to make their lives, as well as Morgan's, worthy of the reader's compassion.
"This is not a story about being sick. It's a story about becoming well ... inside and out. It's about loving yourself," Green said.
And the book is also about living. Green continues to reinforce this as she works on a sequel inspired by positive response from readers, promising that "Morgan has more to tell and share."
"Hallucination" is available at Charis Books and More in Atlanta, Phoenix and Dragon in Sandy Springs, and SOJE Emporium in Lawrenceville. It is also available as an e-book and i-book and at www.hallucinationthenovel.com
Green is available to meet with book clubs and other small gatherings to further people's understanding of living with lupus. On May 31, as a culmination of Lupus Awareness Month, she will be signing her book and moderating a panel of alternative medicine practitioners on Auto Immune Disease at the Little Five Points Community Center. More information is available at the website above.
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org