View Full Version : Should my sister study oversea in Australia and is she suitable to be a dentist?

02-26-2012, 08:16 AM
Hello people!! =) I hope u guys are all doing well. Well.. Im here just to ask for my only sister and shes currently doing her Alvls and wanting to get into dental school or pharmacy school (very much depends on her grades). As our parents had always planned to send me and my sister to study abroad in Australia, unfortunately for her disease, we all know that changes has to be made and fear of letting her be alone is worse. Nevertheless she still wants to do it though and we will have to find a way to make it happen for her. =( The question here is whether people with lupus are genrally 'OKAY' to study abroad? and is she suitable to be a health care worker (dentist, pharmacist) with this disease. I would really appreciate some honest and sincere answers from someone who has past experience or are thorough in this regard. Thanks!

02-26-2012, 10:21 AM
HI and welcome to WHL! It is so wonderful that you are concerned about your sister. As for the question about her studying overseas, that really isn't one we can answer. Although there are many things Lupus patients have in common we are all very different. What I can tell you is that we have people on here that travel all the time.

"Is it suitable to be a healthcare worker" is another question that only she can answer. Lupus is not contagious or anything that would inhibit her doing it but she will need to see how she feels and see if that is the best road for her to go down. For some of us here the answer would be "yes", we are still up to it. For others of us, our plans had to change due to the disease. It doesn't mean there are no plans I am just saying that plans change because of what this disease does to us.

I hope this helps answer your question. Welcome again to WHL and I look forward to getting to know you

02-26-2012, 04:45 PM
hi welcome whl i agree with mari it is really up to the individual lots of us still travel and some of us find it harder i live in australia and i have travelled all over australia camping and 4wd driving with my husband and daughter. i would suggest she brings letter from her doctor and list of meds so if she does need to be treated it makes it easier. ultimitely the decision is hers but just know there is a number of members here from australia and if she ever needs to talk we will be here for her if needs us .

02-27-2012, 01:35 AM
hello lupiebro.

i noticed you are from malaysia.
this means tthat your sister is used to high levels of ultra violet rays.
the higher levels of uv rays in australia, is one of the main problems overseas people face.

i know of quite a few other australians who have lupus and work.
i also know a few international visitors in australia who have lupus.
lupus is well recognised in australia.
lupus medication is easy to obtain in australia.

there is no physical reason your sister cannot follow her dream.
only she will know if she is capable of handling the stress, and fatigue.

i would like to thank you for caring enough to look out for this forum.
it is far too common that family members do not understand what someone with lupus goes through.

02-27-2012, 07:32 AM
Hey Guys thanks so much for the answers and stuffs u guys are really awesome! This makes me appreciate this kind of online lupus community more and I really thank the person for creating the world wide web so that we can all share our stories and doubts here, just like this. thanks so much steve, tgal, kim. I know that my questions are really subjective and as a pharmacy student I do understand alot about the disease, and the one and only thing i care for in life right now would be to make sure my sister to have a good life. Kim advice is pretty good and Ill make sure my parents will try to make sure they get to visit one of the rheumatologist in Australia and get him/her to take care of my sister's disease progress. Also would make sure the current rheumy to write a letter so that my sister can always use that letter if anything happens. Yea steve you are exactly on point with what Im scared of, the uv in australia. I sometimes thought would be better for my sister to be studying in the UK. However no one in the family knows much about UK, just sort of understand there's not much sun over there. Actually the reason why I'm worry about whether my sister would be suitable to pursue a health care career such as dentist/pharmacist is not because Im sked she will be too stress to handle the studies, is more like I fear with her weaken immune system by steroids she would not be able to handle the bacteria and viruses that are obviously present in hospital settings and eventually get infected easily. Also, there's a few types of screenings that a health care worker will go through before he/she actually gets to work in health venues, and I fear my sister will fail those screenings since she's basically has a weakened immune system. SORRY FOR ALL THE RANTING GUYS!! Im just typing out whats in my head after reading all your posts without really thinking how to shorten it.

02-28-2012, 02:16 AM
my aunty works as the head nurse in a busy sydney emergancy unit.
she has had lupus for many years.

lupus does not stop you from working in the medical field in australia.

if your sister is lucky, she may not have to use steroids.
the basic treatment for a balanced lupus patient in australia usually consists of methotrexate and plaquenil.
when the lupus is out of control or attacking organs then other medication is required.

everyone is different - - each person may required different medication.

03-03-2012, 05:45 PM
i know a nurse that works in our local hospital and she is emergency nurse and she has lupus.

03-03-2012, 06:55 PM
Hey lupiebro,

I'm from overseas, currently studying medicine in Australia.

Many people say that working in a medical field with Lupus isn't impossible - but there's a few issues before you get qualified that I'm currently dealing with.

Dent and Pharm are extremely intense courses. A big symptom of Lupus is fatigue and brain fog.

If she comes to Aussie, get her to register with the Student Disability Services at her Uni straight away. They can help with all sorts of little things, whether it be a parking space close to lectures, or just smoothing the way for applying for special exams, a writer for exams, changing labs due to fluroescent lighting etc.

Make sure the Uni records the lectures, and streams them on the net. That way if she has fatigue, she can watch them over and over whenever she wants when she is better. This really worked well for me.

Will she be eligible for Medicare in Australia? If not, she'll have to go privately for every GPs visit, blood tests, specialists etc.

If she does have a bad flareup and can't continue with the semester, or fails a course, will that affect her Visa? How will she and your family cope if she does take longer to finish her course?

Is there a direct flight between her uni and your home? So if things do go bad, she can easily get home or you can come see her. The idea of having stopovers or changing flights when you have fatigue is too horrible to contemplate.

Is there a large community of your people around her Uni? Even better, extended family? When you are so fatigued you can't even wash or feed yourself you need people to be there for you. Housemates in a share house shouldn't take on that burden.

As far as entry goes, Lupus can trigger a false positive for Syphilis, but she should pass all the other necessary screenings ie TB, HIV. If she can't get vaccinated against other required things, she just needs to provide good evidence of why and it won't be a problem.

My Uni has been WONDERFUL with my hideous health last year, I contacted them very early on and had lots of meetings with the head of disciplines. I gave them copies of my medical records, and pretty much whatever I needed they'd arrange. They discounted my abysmal attendance record, arranged extra tutes when I was well, deferred my exams till when I was better, and gave me lots of moral support. However they will not change the passing mark required - I still had to get the same results as everyone else.

03-05-2012, 05:13 AM
Hi Brandywine, Thanks so much for the infos. May I know which home country are you from? Now its a bit early to look into that matter I'm just getting a bit earlier on worrying about her Australia studies bcuz that's something she will face soon. How long have you been dealing with lupus in your University and do you find it hard to cope with your med studies? Because as a pharmacy student myself I find myself pretty much occupied with studies so just wondering is someone actually coping with it along with lupus. My sister has always wanting to be a dentist/pharmacist just hoping her dreams wont be ruined by this. =( And her condition is quite stable taking predisone and plaquenil atm. With some chest pains and plenty of arthritic issues. She's having her blood test today and I hope all is well for her kidney and organs. And finally, do you think working in a hospital setting will make you feel even tired because you are always dealing with patients and are at a higher risk due to weakened immune system? This actually comes from my sister's rheumatologist as he warned my parents about the negatives or being a health practitioner when a person has lupus is the exposure. Just want to know your opinion on it.

PLease do reply to my msg I would really love to keep in touch with you as you are the person I'm looking for to learn from you so I can help my sister in the future.

03-06-2012, 12:27 AM
Well I’m a newbie, just got diagnosed with lupus last week. But I’ve had poor health for a while now.

I’m from NZ, so I get access to Medicare in Aussie, and my family are a direct flight away. I do have some extended family who live interstate, and I’m incredibly lucky to have some amazing, understanding and generous friends here. However I do feel very alone here, and I have a lot of responsibility to manage myself and not be a burden on those around me. It is hard.

I’m halfway through my medical training so I’m gonna keep going – not only because I think I can make it and I love the field, but because my parents remortgaged their house to pay for me to go here. I need to pay them back.

Also I am lucky in that when I do graduate, I’ll be in a profession with a shortage. Working part-time is encouraged, and there is a huge need for locums and short contracts. Therefore even if my lupus does get bad, I know that I can tailor my work and training around it.

I want to be a GP so I am worried about the exposure to bugs, too. But if I had children they’d be coughing and spluttering over me, and I’d have to go near daycare centres…. There are bugs everywhere in the world and I can’t hide from them! I think while I’m training I will explain about the lupus and obviously infectious patients can be seen by others. And I’ll be meticulous about handwashing etc.
I guess your sister can do the same in pharm or dent.

Getting through this degree is going to be hard work – but I did get through the last two years, so I’m confident that I can do the same now. In saying that, I have already talked to the faculty, if I have a really bad flareup or am struggling so much with a module that it looks like I’ll fail, I am just going to withdraw from that module, spend a few weeks in bed recovering, and do the module again later. This will mean that I will take longer to complete the course and won’t graduate with the rest of my class… but I’m 100% okay with that.

Would your sister be okay with that??? Or will she beat herself up and get depressed about it?

You said that doing pharm or dent was your sister’s dream. While I used to believe that being a doctor was my dream, I now challenge anyone who says that a job or career is their ‘dream’. Life is more than working.

I want to have a challenging, intellectual, busy job. I love science, I love medicine, I love people. I want job security, a good pay packet, I want to be able to live anywhere in the world and work. I want to be respected by the community, I want to make a difference. So I want to be a doctor.

But my dream is to have a pony. Specifically, I want to do dressage sidesaddle (long story). I’m gonna get involved in Riding for the Disabled again, have an amazing house, (with a library!) and read books, cook, dote on my niece and nephew, and travel more of the world. I also dream of having company for all of this – a partner, or some really awesome friends. Now that’s a dream. Being a doctor will help me achieve these dreams, and I won’t be unhappy while at work.

At school we are under a lot of pressure to choose a career, and this idea that our dreams should be work is marketed. If you are asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ it is unacceptable to say ‘I don’t know’, or ‘a mother’ etc. People want to hear you profess your dreams of becoming a lawyer, doctor, pilot, CEO etc DESPITE the fact that people in these professions are some of the unhappiest among us.

The correct answer to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” is to simply say “I want to be happy”. And at 17 or 18 we really don’t know what makes us happy. Some people never find out.

Your sister is yet to start her training. While the advice on this forum is not to let the lupus get in the way of your dreams, I think your sister needs to think about what her dreams are, and what would actually make her happy. And to think about her expectations of life and her career. There are so many other jobs out there than the classic lawyer/doctor/pilot, lots that involve aspects of medicine or science. Has she thought about any of those?

If she’s looking at dent or pharm, she’s probably a straight-A student, with a type A personality. We aren’t used to failing, being ‘average’ or unreliable. I think these factors, more than the germs, are things she needs to consider. A career in pharm or dent is possible, but she won’t be top of the class. She might fail some courses. And when she graduates, she won’t be the hardest working, most reliable staff member. Is she going to be okay with that??? Really?
Does she have a plan B? Or plan C?

On the positive side, her symptoms are stable, she’s well educated about the disease, already on treatment, and she has YOU for support. She should know how much work pharmacy is from talking to you, so she’ll be better prepared than others.

03-08-2012, 07:58 AM
Thanks brandywine again for all this long replies, I really hope this wont stop. I'm sorry to take such a long time to get back to you been so busy with my studies and stuffs I actually read it the other day but do not have enough time to actually write out all my points.

Firstly, I'm from Malaysia and I'm not sure whether students from Malaysia are being covered by medicare, but we do have OSHC insurance and I think its kinda similar. And sadly, I'm the only one in Aussie that make things even scarier because I have to be strong and stable in my emotions when helping her out. (Usually break down when she's not feeling well). And yea we do have direct flight home so that matter is not a problem she probably can fly back every single holiday and get treated in Malaysia, if that is necessary my family will definitely support it. I do hope she can have a bunch of friends who can actually understand her disease and tolerate with it. Now days ppl are so realistic they wouldnt bother understanding other ppl needs and stuffs, is just sad just by thinking about it. Do you mind telling me are you asian? Because with the way you descreibe about repaying your parents is the exact same thoughts I have, I mean asians basically only think about repaying their parents once they fnsh their degree. And I really do love the way you phrase this :

"I want to have a challenging, intellectual, busy job. I love science, I love medicine, I love people. I want job security, a good pay packet, I want to be able to live anywhere in the world and work. I want to be respected by the community, I want to make a difference. So I want to be a doctor."

It is the reason why professions such as doctors, dentist etc are me and my sister's target. This sentence spot on!! So with all your advice, Ill just make a list of things to do be done if shes coming to aussie.

1) Ill get her to register with the student disability services so that she will be taken cared of basically in every aspect and also hopefully she will be arranged into a better placement venue during her placement/internship. (This is what I worried most, studies is fine, is all about a good placement/internship venue.)
2) Get a rheumatologist for her so that if anything we can look for help easily, instead of panicking and calling back home to ask for help. (Do you reccommand this would work out? Like will the dr actually follow up closely for int student patient.)
3) Make sure she pass all her screenings and stuffs (for Pharm is just TB screenings and police check, How about Med?) (Do you have any of your med frens that didnt manage to pass the screenings? what happen if they dont pass?)

So yea, basically that's what Im gonna do if she really decides to come here. Let me know if I can do a bit more. And unfortunately bout u asking whther my sister would be okay for a lower score, the answer is no. She just got to learn to let go, slowly she will have to know she can compete at the highest level like she used to. But its tough, its tough to tell her and she normally gets so agressive when any of our family members try to consult her about taking things easily and slowing down her pace. =( Anyhow she got to change and I just hope getting into dent/pharm is something she really wants. She just dont consider law, engineering, architecture and other stuffs. =S The thing Im sure is she's in love with her chemistry and biology. Not so much on physics and math, pretty obvious for her to go on and do something like dent/pharm.

Actually, I really like what u said about the our 'dreams'. Its so true that our dream is maybe not our job, is more like a key towards our dream, and I think that applies to my sister as well. Its more like, she dont like other stuffs, so dent and pharm kinda stands out, she's dont have the "I WANT TO BE A DENTIST/PHARMACIST" kind of attitude, just leaning towards it but not like if I cant be one Ill just die. I really wanted my sister to read your post its just so true and on point, but I'm worried she'll ended up crying. Still think she cant accept the fact she has to give up so much because of this disease and right now shes at her prime time when all her frens are networking, studying, partying, etc etc. I really feel bad for her and I feel useless that i cant do anything to help. I wish I have super powers!

Finally, she had a very stable health last month unfortunately this month the story is kinda different, to be exact is since start of 2012 she kinda like have all the flareups again started to worry me so much. I really thought she was getting better and her lupus might go under remission =(. And now she has constant chest pains and difficulty breathing especially at night. May I know what meds are you taking atm for your lupus. Her rheumatologist just suggested her methotrexate yesterday. Kinda scares me it just make me feel like my sister is really unwell atm. Anyways I hope this post is not too long for you to read, and also for other people! I just have alot of say once i start typing my first sentence, maybe I'll sleep better tonight because I typed out all my thoughts over here.

03-11-2012, 02:38 AM
HAHAHAHAHAHA No Iím not Asian. Iím about as white as you can get before you hit albino. Hard work and deference to your parents arenít virtues exclusive to Asians! :-p

I have found that almost all my classmates, white, brown, black, Asian, are very similar. Itís a personality thing.

Now I havenít replied to this for a while because I had to think.

When you described your sister as aggressive when you try and talk to herÖ. Well I know that feeling. That was me when I was 17. It was a mixture of being very unhappy, and believing that fury and determination would get me through my challenges. My self-esteem was centred in achieving well at school, and I was convinced that my life would be Ďmadeí by going to University. I was a real hissing, spitting tyrant if any well-meaning person tried to help me!

Well I didnít enjoy university. It wasnít everything I expected, my fairytales didnít come true. I really struggled academically, but my stubbornness meant that I never admitted anything was wrong. I was a very long way from home and I made few friends. My family were so worried about me but Iíd lash out if they tried to help.

My grades went down every year, As, then Bs, then Cs for my final year. I then went travelling for two years, and worked for two years. Now Iíve studied for two years and Iím 27 years old. But I remember being that 17 year old.

Your sister is trying to regain control over her life, and over lupus. But determination and bloody-mindedness doesnít work with lupus. Willpower will not conquer lupus.

I am worried. If this is her way of coping with this situation I think things will go badly.

It is hard enough shifting overseas from your family. It is hard enough starting at university. It is hard enough starting a degree like pharmacy. It is hard enough dealing with lupus.

All these things combinedÖ are really hard. Anyone would struggle. I didnít have lupus when I did my undergrad, but I certainly had some health problems and some mental health problems. And my way of dealing with it all (willpower and getting angry) just made things so much worse.

I see your sister setting herself up for failure. I know you want to protect her from this but if she is refusing the listen to reason there is little you can do. You cannot fix her lupus for her.

From all the wisdom Iíve read so far on this site, the best way to deal with lupus is to outsmart it. ie with fatigue, you canít Ďpush through ití, but you can sense a flare coming and preempt it with rest. I think if she wants to successfully go to Uni she needs to accept lupus and itís problems and get smart about how to get around them. That might mean changing goals.

If I had my time again, two years ago I wouldnít have started studying Medicine. I would have taken my Plan B, which would be doing my PhD in Public Health. At the end of the day, I would still be happy, in a great intellectual, important job etc etc.

You see, doing a Ďnormalí degree allows so much more flexibility. You can adjust the number of courses you do per semester, pick the ones with lectures and labs that suit, take breaks from study with no repercussions on your academic record. You donít get that with med/dent/pharmacy, there is a limit to how accommodating the course can be.

Has your sister considered doing a science undergrad, and then doing pharm/dent/med as a graduate student? Thatís what Iíve done.

She could do an undergrad in pharmacology, organic chemistry, cellular biology, human physiology etc. That way she could do it at her own pace, and get used to life in Australia and the demands of University life. And these are all very intellectual, stimulating, important degrees in their own right.

I think the best thing you could do for your sister is get her to read this thread and all of this board! You think she might cryÖ well nobody died of crying. And sometimes the right things to do are hard! And get her to join! Thereís a young persons thread here too. And a new member, RaoulDuke, has had lupus since he was 19 and has gone to uni successfully. He might have some better advice than me.

I know she will feel like lupus is robbing her of so many things Ė like partying all night long, socializing, her very high goalsÖ but she will only lose these things if she stays rigid. If she can be flexible and change her mindset, she can Ďoutsmartí the lupus and get the most out of what sheís got. But if she stays stubborn I can guarantee that things wonít go well.

You said sheís having a bad flareup at the moment. This might be because of stress, the idea of these upcoming years and challenges. She might be her own worst enemy, psychologically! Iím not currently on any meds, I see my rheumatologist for the first time next week, but I do see a psychologist. Getting your head right so you can deal with the lupus is just as important as meds.

This probably isnít what you wanted to hear, and certainly isnít what your sister wants to hear! But if you do love her and are concerned for her, get her to read all this, regardless of tears and tantrums. Sheíll probably be angry at you for talking about her Ďbehind her backí but I know you are acting out of love.

And this is all my opinions, of course. Tempered with some life experience. But because I'm flexible and smart, I know I can manage my lupus and still do medicine. It's just HOW to manage, and how far I can flex, is what I need to sort out. I'm lucky that I'm older, settled in Aussie, confident and now have a good sense of self and self-esteem. I have built up strong friendships in the past few years, which makes all these challenges easier. These are things that your sister doesn't have, through no fault of her own. And they are things she needs to accomplish herself.

03-11-2012, 07:05 AM
And a new member, RaoulDuke, has had lupus since he was 19 and has gone to uni successfully. He might have some better advice than me.

I knew my ears were burning! Having read back over your posts you've covered pretty much everything I would say on the subject superbly...

I'll give my experience some context via some backgound information.

I started at the University of Sydney straight out of highschool doing a Bachelor of Science(psychology) and everything was going fantastically until about halfway through the first semester when I came down with what was diagnosed as a pretty nasty kidney infection, for which antibiotics were prescribed. A few days after commencing the antibiotics I had a full body rash, my face had puffed up significantly and was severely lethargic. I went back to the doctor and got some antihistamines. A week after this all the skin on my face started to peel off, it was hideous and this whole adventure cost me about 4 weeks of University. I ended up dropping half my subjects and my parents spoke to the faculty about special consideration for the remaining two and they proved to be very accommodating.

From this point on, I was never myself again. Pretty much as soon as I went back to uni, I noticed that I was still severely lethargic and then I started losing weight and hair. This continued for a month or two until I started seeing more worrying changes in my body; when on my back I would get dull aches where my kidneys are and I noticed that my socks would leave indentations on my legs. I also found myself out of breath.

The swelling in my lower legs got worse and started progressing up my legs. It was almost like putty- you could push in on the skin and it would just stay indented. It became so severe that my parents dragged me to the GP. The GP took one look and immediately realised something serious was going on and booked me in to see a vascular specialist. A week later I went for my appointment and the vascular specialist immediately realised that I needed a nephrologist. He walked me to another office where I got to see the other specialist.

It turned out he was one of the top nephrologists in the state, possibly the country and i've been seeing him ever since and he allows me to use medicare so it has never cost me a cent - extremely lucky. He did his examination and determined that I was carrying around about 20kgs of extra fluid. This was a friday and he sent me home over the weekend to do a 24 hour urine collection to return to him on the Monday.

Over the weekend I started to feel progressively worse so I spent a good deal of time reclined. I developed a rash on my face but more seriously a lot of the retained fluid went to my lungs and by the Sunday night I could hardly breathe or hardly walk. The fluid had collapsed a lung and my parents rushed me to emergency. Within 30 minutes of being there I was asked if I had "a family history of Lupus". I had no idea what that was. The definitive diagnosis of SLE with Stage IV Lupus Nephritis was given a week or so later, after skin and kidney biopsies. A whole bunch of other terrible stuff happened whilst in hospital but I was released after 2 1/2 weeks.

I was totally out of action for 6 weeks whilst I was recovering at home and ended up having to completely withdraw from uni that semester. The faculty allowed me to do so without any penalty even though it was nearly the end of semester.

From then on I just did what I could to make things easier - I rearranged my class time tables to spread things out so I didn't have very long days etc. I did most of my degree at between 1/2 - 3/4 load so that I wasnt too overwhelmed with subjects. The faculty was very good about giving me extensions for assessments and tests when I required them, I just needed to arrange the medical documentation.

Two things I would do differently though are that I would have engaged the help of the university disability services ( I never did) and I also would have been more open with my lecturers and tudors regarding my condition. I kept the whole thing private for a very long time as I didn't want people to think of me differently. When I did let them know what was going on in my final year, they bent over backwards to help me in any way they could.

Long story short is that due to changing requirements to be a psychologist and the fact that developed a very strong interest in computers, I transferred degrees late in my psych degree and ended up completing a bachelor of computer science.

In general, know that the university system here is generally very accommodating of students with different needs and/or medical problems and our health system provides a very high level of care. Like in any country, your chances of getting good care for a relatively rare disease increase much more in a major city like Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane.