I was also diagnosed quicky once I actually went to see a doctor. I had been having joint pain and swelling for months during my senior year in college but waited almost an entire year before it got bad enough that one night I woke up in the middle of the night and was in so much pain everywhere that I couldn't move any part of my body without screaming and crying. My fiance-then-boyfriend told me I couldn't go to work and had to see a doctor immediately so I called my cousin who is a doctor and he told me to go see a rheumy. I looked one up on my insurance website and even though it normally takes 4 months to get an appointment with him he was very compassionate and worried by my description of my symptoms and so he agreed to see me after-hours that same day. He was extremely thorough and performed a ton of tests (I got my blood drawn three times in that one week!) and within two weeks he had given me a diagnosis of lupus and sent me to a nephrologist because they found blood and protein in my urine. Two weeks later I had my kidney biopsy done and started on prednisone and CellCept. My doctor's said that I was pretty lucky because my lupus was at a stage where it was fairly easy for them to diagnose but not so far along that it had done any irreparable damage to my kidneys.
I think lupus is definitely becoming more well-known, I even saw a couple commercials about lupus on cable tv when I was living in Los Angeles (but not since I have moved so maybe they were only local commercials?). Also, I don't know if you guys ever watch House MD but have you ever noticed how lupus is almost always one of the first things he tests for whenever he gets a patient with weird symptoms that can't be explained? I think these are all great signs for those of us living with lupus!