Dr. Cwanza: Sis… You are More than Tired

My name is Dr. Cwanza Pinckney. I am a board-certified in Emergency Medicine, a Concierge Physician, DJ, and 2X best-selling author of Music and Medicine Vol. 1: The True Medical Mysteries of 5 Dope Music Legends

I’m the owner of a DJ and Music Production Business, creator of the Life Remix Podcast and a co-host on The Docs Podcast available on all platforms. I was recently diagnosed with Lupus. This is my story.

When Being Tired Becomes Serious…

Whelp, in all transparency, before I was diagnosed with Lupus, I cannot even remember when I wasn’t tired. I mean being tired is a part of the dogma of an independent professional black woman. After all, what doctor isn’t tired. I hold a Director position in two emergency rooms. I was taking a Physician entrepreneurship course, falling in love with and finally becoming serious about taking my DJ hobby out of the bedroom and turning it into a business. All of this while starting a concierge medical practice, dealing with a whole host of personal drama, and a new relationship, and to top it off, droppin’ it like it’s hot as much as possible. Tired didn’t even seem like a big deal until I went from living to barely being able to get out of the bed.

More than feeling a little beat after a stressful day, I literally became unable to get out of the bed unless there was a “must do” activity, like earning a living or showing up for can’t miss events.  I was distraught. I have always been a proud card-carrying member of #teamnosleep and I wore it like a badge of honor. I could barely keep my eyes open during an ER shift or social gatherings with friends and family.

I could not get through an activity without having to take a nap. I went to work and came home and slept. I laid down between seeing patients. I went to the store, came home and took a nap. Cherished time with family and friends became distant because I literally couldn’t find the energy to engage with anyone or any activity outside the scope of what I absolutely had to do. This wasn’t like me. I was the energetic happy unicorn who had time for everything and everyone and I had become reduced to a low energy, moody, un-engaging person who napped incessantly and missed family and social activities on the regular.

Pay Attention To The Signs

Let’s not even mention my health. I was bruising on my arms and legs, gaining weight, craving carbs and sweets, having terrible joint pain and swelling, back pain, and muscular pain that left me in tears and debilitated day after day. But being the hard driving person that I am, I attributed the bruises to being clumsy and running into stretchers or bumping into things. I attributed the fatigue to being busy.

To be honest, I didn’t realize anything was wrong until I went to see my OB/GYN (who happens to be a good friend). She called me at home to ask me why my platelets were low. I was like “…uhmmm… I have no idea but that’s probably why I am bruising”. I mean it was probably nothing, right? Well that denial thing is real. On her recommendation, I went to see a hematologist, but it took me a few months.

I was shocked when he told me that he thought I had an, “autoimmune disorder” which is essentially a disease in which the body gets confused and starts attacking itself. As a physician, I know exactly what that means but as a patient… I was like,” Girl. Bye…. Not me…Nooope…. uhhh”.

He recommended I see a Rheumatologist. Months of dragging, kicking, prompting, and being forced by loved ones; almost a year later, I finally became a part of my own health and wellness and saw the Rheumatologist. After blood work and a detailed history, I finally had an answer. I was diagnosed with Lupus, Sjorgren’s disease, a touch of low thyroid, and probably some other connective tissue disorders that fit in the autoimmune spectrum. Of course, I had to be special. My fatigue, pain, and mental fog had a name: Systemic Lupus Erythematosis. I was terrified! As a physician I have seen the worst Lupus complications and outcomes, but I was determined to fight back.  

The Road to Recovery – and Wellness

Six months later, here I am, living my best life, Lupus and everything. Now I didn’t say I took the news beautifully, doctors are the worst patients, but I started treatment and my life changed. The horrible pains were so much better. I could remember what I ate for breakfast, and I stopped wearing long shirts in the middle of August to in Houston to hide my bruises because they were a lot better, and I started participating in life again.  I made peace with my body’s limitations and the need for rest, medical care, healthy stress relief, and some boundaries. I am still going from zero to 100, it is built into my DNA, but when my body says, no sis… I am finally learning to listen, slow down, be less accessible, and heal.

An Unlikely Motivation

There is something about being tired of being sick and tired that will motivate you beyond measure and it took a diagnosis for me to finally start developing life skills that I had lacked most of my life. I now have boundaries, meditate, exercise, eat healthier, take my medicine and enjoy a healthier way of living and I am at peace with that.

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  If you think you may have a medical condition, immediately call your doctor.


Dr. Cwanza Pinckney
Board Certified Emergency & Concierge Physician
Aspire TV Medical Contributor



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