The Redwood Savior: My Lupus Journey Among the Trees

Ines Martins, PhD avatar

by Ines Martins, PhD |

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It started off as my dream place to live

an “if I could live anywhere” kind of place. We vacationed in the Redwood Forest for three years before the opportunity to move up here presented itself. It was an escape from life where I could slow down a bit, especially with lupus. The problem though, was that I wasn’t prepared for the actual challenges that living away from the city meant. I was leaving my support network. Having lupus meant utilizing that network heavily. It took me quite awhile to be able to see it for what it was; a straight up denial of what was actually occurring in my life .

Lupus Warrior in the Redwoods

Home in Santa Cruz Mountains Redwood Forest

The cold damp air was, and continues to be, a daily pain in my everything — and that whole “sunshine can affect your mood” thing? Yeah, that’s actually for real. Our driveway sits at about a 60 degree angle, and then after eight steps to get to the porch, I boldly took the master room upstairs in the loft. Not a great idea when your main form of getting around is with help from a cane, and/or wheelchair when needed. I’ve probably slept on my couch more than I have my own bed.

So why did I move to a Redwood Forest?

Why, as an extrovert, did I feel the need to run away from the city and my friends when I truly needed them the most? We had lived in Los Angeles where I had a team of doctors, a huge network of colleagues and friends that I could call on if needed. We now live on a secluded mountainside, 23-minutes without traffic from the nearest hospital — but it is peaceful.

Lupus Warrior in a Redwood Forest

Redwood Grove

“Somehow, these Redwood trees wrapped me up in their arms and mentally embraced me”

Living on the mountainside broke me. Owning my first home meant learning how to do repairs on the house by myself. From watering the yard and trimming the brush to critter control and fire scares. When the pipes started leaking, I bought 50 different PVC pieces from Home Depot and came home and fixed the plumbing under my kitchen sink. Let me tell ya, hanging the fancy shower curtain took all day; and to this day it still isn’t right. To this day I still hate that damn curtain rod.

Due to the amount of rain we get in the winter, the driveway is slowly but quite literally falling down the mountain. There were so many times I would head to my Redwood grove in the backyard and just meditate for strength because in reality, I had none. Mentally, physically, and spiritually I was in a dark place for sure. Today, I am healing. Slowly but surely, it’s happening and I can feel it. I didn’t get to choose lupus and I sure as hell can’t change it — but I do get to choose how I let it change me; how I let it change the person I am becoming.

This is my journey, my story, my blog and, hell, eventually my book…so yeah, I have to talk about lupus because, dammit, unfortunately it does get a lot of attention in my house.

Lupus warrior, traveler, singer, cook, mom, music enthusiast, passionate activist. Those words define who I am. Lupus is just another appendage like “I have fingers, I have toes, I have lupus.” Even if I didn’t have those things, I would still be me. Well, me but not as freaking awesome. 🙂

Welcome to my mountain, my lupus.




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