Kristen Johnston (probably best known for her role in 3rd Rock from The Sun and falling out of a window on Sex and the City), has lupus — did you know that? I didn’t. Apparently, it almost left her paralyzed. She told her whole story to People. First, it started when she couldn’t climb a flight of stairs and doctors couldn’t figure out why:
“I went to 17 doctors, and nobody could figure out what was going on. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me.”
After months of painful tests, endless doctor visits and taking leave from work, Johnston, 46, finally visited rheumatologist Dr. Daniel J. Wallace, who diagnosed her with lupus myelitis, a rare form of lupus that affects the spinal cord. By then, the autoimmune disease had left her so weak and exhausted she couldn’t lift her neck without a brace.
“If I had to live like that forever, I would have killed myself,” she says.
Upon her diagnosis, the actress checked into the hospital for treatment, including chemotherapy and steroids. Six months later, “she’s in remission,” Wallace tells PEOPLE. “But if she’d waited a few weeks longer, she could have ended up quadriplegic.”
I had no freakin’ idea any of this was happening to her, though I wondered why we hadn’t seen much of her lately. The whole thing sounds terrifying. She says that now, “Every single day is a gift, and I don’t take one second of it for granted.”
People joke a lot about lupus thanks to House, but I gotta say, it sounds very scary and I’m glad she’s okay.