Welcome to our family! Your story is not an unusual one for most of us who are living with this disease. I think that many of us have determined that we suffered from symptoms of the disease for quite a few years prior to our diagnosis. Myself, I remember the many symptoms, aches, pains, fatigue, etc. that I suffered from when I was in High School and I think that they were due to Lupus. However, I was not diagnosed until I was 35 years old. So, you are not alone and we understand your frustration, fear, and trepidation.
It sounds as if your doctors are at least being proactive. Tgal has advised you of the fact that Plaquenil is a cumulative drug and it can take weeks to months before you see substantial results. However, once the Plaquenil starts to work, it has worked quite well for many. I imagine that, due to the fact that it takes a while to work, this is the reason why your doctor wants you to start it first. Because Lupus is a systemic disease and due to the fact that you are also suffering from several overlap conditions, I do not think that you will be able to treat all of your symptoms with just one drug. Many of the treatments work together to provide you relief, so you may find that, like many of us, you will have to take several medications in order to get the results that will provide you with some type of relief. Also, you may have to try different medications and/or a different potency of your medications before you find a regimen that works for you and gives you relief from your symptoms. So, you may have to be a bit patient in the treatment of your symptoms.
There is a sticky here entitled "Lupus Medications" that you might find informative and that might help you to understand what the medications are for and why they may be prescribed. In the meantime, please feel free to ask us any questions that you may have and we will be more than happy to help you as much as we can!
Peace and Blessings
Look For The Good and Praise It!