Tiffany’s story

“Greetings everyone. My name is Tiffany Also known as Sherease. I am 29 years old from Queens New York and I am a Crohn's Disease and Lupus patient. In June of 2013, I suddenly became very ill. I was getting constant low grade fevers, fatigue, urgency, and pain in my lower right quadrant area. At first I thought I had the flu or pulled a muscle, but the symptoms never subsided. I made a visit to my Gyn's office where they did a tone of test on me and could not find anything wrong. I was still very uncomfortable and felt like I had worked a construction job for a whole month. I could barely get out of bed, and my mom had to help dress me to rush to the er. After a 7 day admission with a tone of GI testing, I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which is also known as Crohn's Disease. It was the worst 7 days of my life. I was on two different antibiotics, steroids, and pain medicines to keep me comfortable. I was bleeding from my rectum, had no appetite, and threw up everything that I put inside of my body. I always thought menstrual cramps was the worse pain I ever felt but this has definitely topped it off. I was so scared of everything that was going on inside of my body, I thought I was going to die. When I was able to find a team of doctors I was comfortable with, things started getting better but back to worse again with several hospital admissions. I remember only being able too eat white rice for breakfast lunch snack and dinner. My stomach could not tolerate anything else. It would give me serious pain or excessive amounts of diahrea. I couldn't even go to the grocery store and come back without being able to hold my bowels. Within months I started noticing that during the time of my menstrual approaching it would put me into a terrible flare and I felt like I lived in my bathroom. Only thing that was comforting to me was a heating pad. I never once in my life felt so uncontrollable when I realized I was in so much pain that I couldn't even feed myself. Shortly after, I noticed my hair shedding, I was loosing alot of weight, I was breaking out in hives, and my joints were hurting. At the time I was on humira, but something just didn't seem right. I took it upon myself and found a Rheumatologist to do more thorough testing and I was later diagnosed with Lupus. Sometimes I still don't know which one is worse. After being admitted back and forth in the hospital, the steroid dosages would increase and I started to gain alot of weight. I was so swollen I couldn't even fit my foot into a shoe. My skin broke out so bad and it put me into a state of depression where I didn't even want to be seen. All of the side effects I had to deal with from the medications, and the symptoms from both illnesses itself, I thought I would literally loose my mind. I felt so of age and isolated that I nearly lost myself. I thought, what did I do to deserve this, but in the back of my mind I always said God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers. I could never really put into words how I was feeling because it took me a long time to accept the new me. All I knew is that I wasn't feeling like my old self. My longest hospital stay being a month made me realize how strong of a person I am. One of the hardest parts of battling a crohnic illness is the mental part. Taking care of my mental health along this journey has been the best decision I've ever made. Without positive thinking I would not be where I am today. Dealing with several doctors that were not understanding of my symptoms, friends and family members that were not understanding of my condition and made negative comments about my appearance, really discouraged me at certain times. Going through this journey with a healthy support system really makes a huge difference in the healing process. Sometimes I feel down when I look back on my previous years of being a teacher and a very active person, where as now my body has slowed down alot, but I always tell myself, back then I wasn't ill. I never imagined myself being so young and dealing with so much pain on a daily basis that it would prevent me from doing my normal activities. Not being able to appear at events, doing something just as simple as laundry was a real major setback, but my Moto is, I have Crohn's Disease and Lupus but it doesn't have me. I am now an independent, A student at Columbia southern university, a business owner and an advocate for my community. Something I would tell anyone who is battling this disease or any life struggle is, you never know how strong you are until strong is your only choice. Don't give up so easily. Those who lack to understand your struggle aren't meant to be apart of your journey. “

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