If you missed part one, please check it out here first: Pemphigus Vulgaris Part 1
Faster then I knew, I was hurled into the worst flare up I had ever experienced. The pain went from bad to excruciating and my doctor told me I needed to seriously consider another lengthy hospital stay so that we could fight the infection with an IV. I resisted at first, I had started to fear the hospitals. All the unnecessary tests that been performed on me, before and after my diagnosis, weighed heavily on me and gave me horrible flashbacks and high anxiety just smelling things associated with the hospital.
But eventually, I relented. I couldn’t take the pain anymore and even though it was in the middle of school I was hospitalized again. By now I had learned to plan ahead, I had scheduled all online classes with the exception of my Sculpture II class, which I dearly missed as I went through more treatments.
I begged my doctor to let me go home after just a few days in the hospital with treatments, he wanted to start me on a new medication while I was in the hospital though and see if it worked out first. It was a new immunosuppressant. The way that we often treated my disease was this: I took a large amount of steroids because it was the strongest thing in deflating my blisters and holding my disease at bay. From there, a new immunosuppressant would be introduced and the steroids slowly lowered. If the new immunosuppressant could slow or quiet my disease, the steroids could go away entirely. Unfortunately in the first few years, I never reached that place.
This new medication was no different, although I felt great at first taking it and I was able to go home. My body was so weak and full of pain. A strange rash broke out over my body and I couldn’t walk or sit up by myself. It was soon the worst flare up I ever had.
During this time I joined an online support group, I used my laptop to write a bit and journal my experiences as well as reach out to others around the world with pemphigus. I was the baby of the group and they took me under their wing, sharing everything they knew about it with me. My online friends that I met through video games were supportive as well. I fell back on games as a way to distract my mind from the pain that raged through my body when I wasn’t doing homework, and I found that it worked. It was the little things that helped me to manage day after day.
I learned through my online support group, that the medication I was currently on had given them all bad experiences, including taking away their ability to walk. For one of them, it had been permanent. I was horrified and called my doctor instantly, telling him about what was going on and an appointment was quickly scheduled.
I was on the way to be hospitalized again before I knew it, this time I didn’t fight it as much. I had coughed up blood and I knew generally people who did that were not very well off.
I still remember this day, clearer than ever, during my worst times of pain combined. Some days I wondered if it really happened, and recently I confirmed with my mother that this was how it happened. We were on the way to the doctor and she had helped me downstairs like she always did, before we got to the door I remember, I suddenly felt very light, like you might feel before you pass out, only I did much more than that. I mumbled, “Mom?” as I slipped out of her hands to the floor and I could hear her screaming for my brother to come help. And like that, it was over.
All of my pain went away, I felt my heart stop, my organs shutting down. And I was outside of my body, looking down on the scene. I wasn’t alarmed at all, I felt total peace. It was then I realized the true reality of who we are, that our bodies are nothing more than a shell and our soul is the most important piece. As I looked down I saw my mother praying, crying out to God. Later I would learn, that she had just released me to God recently in prayer, and she thought this was the moment that he would take me away. Her screams and prayers, I believe, reached straight to heaven, and just like that, as quickly as I had been pulled out, I was pulled back in. It was the weirdest feeling ever.
But I knew with certainty, that if my time with death was to come anytime soon, that it was not the thing that we all dreaded and feared. We only fear death because all that we know is life. I knew now that compared to the suffering of this world, it was nothing but peace that awaited me on the other side.
When my doctor checked everything and I told him what happened, as he looked me over he could only shake his head in amazement. “I have no idea how you’re alive right now,” he admitted to me. “You should be dead, it’s a miracle you’re still alive.”
I shook with the news, I was both frightened and in awe. I felt unworthy and I cried, my mother and my doctor cried with me. I had seen people die from the pemphigus, I knew that this was no easy disease. I felt ashamed to be alive, I was nothing special. I had never been anything special, but I resolved deep within my heart that if God cared enough to give me chance and chance again, that I would change myself. I would always try to be a positive person, I would encourage others, I would love people, I would be a better person then who I was and I resolved to always become better then who I am.
I realized that every breath that we take, is the true miracle. Every morning that we wake up, is another blessed day that has been given to us. And the more that I lived the more that I found, we are all something special. We all have something to give to the world, and we are all called to do things with purpose. So do them, never let fear hold you back! These were the truths that I carried with me, as I was checked into another hospital, yet again.