I was diagnosed with arthritis at the age of 2 at SickKids Hospital. I had it tough because I always loved the outdoors, but sometimes I wasn’t able to even walk from the pain. When I was only in elementary school my face used to get this red rash which looked like blushing. Kids were brutal, and it was the funniest thing to pick on. But I ignored it to my best ability because I knew I couldn’t change it.
In grade 9, it got worse, and my boyfriend (who I am still happily with) started to worry. I’d get so sick sometimes, even though I was perfectly healthy a few minutes before. I had weakness, tiredness, and dizziness even though I had a good night’s rest.
Then, when winter came along, my hands started to feel like they were burning, and so did my toes. When I took my gloves off to check, I noticed my hands were white, blue and purple. After weeks of that, my boyfriend was sick of worrying, and out of concern, talked to my mom behind my back and told her I needed to go to a hospital.
It was months before they diagnosed me with Raynaud’s and Lupus, after I got so sick to the point they had to put me in the hospital. My body attacked itself, leaving me with nose bleeds 4 times a day, hair loss and such bad dizziness it was hard for me to see. But worst of all I was in pain and exhausted. The doctors put me on steroids (prednisone to be exact), and I have been fine until now.
Flare ups still happen, but I don’t have to be hospitalized. I’m 17 years old now. What I’m most grateful for is my parents, doctors, teachers and my boyfriend who helped me catch up and realize I can’t let my illnesses take over my life.
I’m about to apply to universities and colleges, and I know that if I had let my illnesses control me I wouldn’t be where I am now. Thank you, Toronto Western Hospital, for helping me and supporting me along the way, for taking me in at the age of 14 and fighting for me to stay.
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.