We Endure: Latira's Story
Mine is a long story and one that is a work in progress. I could write about
Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome and Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome all day, but I know you have better things to do with your time and can do your research.
Here is just a glimpse into my struggles, my endurance, and my triumph.
My story began when I was thirteen. I had friends, got decent grades, and was busy in dance, music, and after-school clubs. As a teenager, I was concerned with how my braces made me look, whether getting bangs was a good idea, and if the boy I had a crush on would ask me to the school dance.
However, all of that changed one night when I thought I had the flu.
After three days of not being able to eat or drink anything, I was taken to the ER. That
first trip to the hospital is a little hazy. I remember the constant vomiting even though my stomach was empty. I remember crying as my mom squeezed my hand as they tried for the tenth time to get an IV in. I didn’t know it, but this was the first of many trips to the hospital, and a journey that would forever impact my life.
After being sent home, and coming back to the hospital a week later, CT scans, an MRI, more time in and out of the hospital, upper GI tests, countless IVs, feeding tubes. I was diagnosed with Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome. In short, SMAS is a digestive condition that occurs when the first part of the small intestine is compressed between two arteries. This compression causes a partial or complete blockage of the
small intestine. I had surgery and was put on a feeding pump to keep me at a higher weight than my body could hold on its own. This didn’t work, and I still got sick.
We knew there was something else going on, so I saw specialist after specialist until
finally I was double diagnosed with SMAS and Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS). Both of these are rare conditions with which most doctors aren’t familiar. While I had a diagnosis, I did not present a classic case to either condition. I had quirks and irregularities because the two would play off of each other.
Putting a name to a condition gave me little comfort because CVS does not have a cure. You can treat it to make it bearable, and it is different for every person who has it. My CVS would then trigger the SMAS which was a whole other problem.
For a while, I had accepted this new life. I had made new friends in the staff and other
patients. I found pure love and admiration in a boy named Kevin who I then lost to Leukemia not long after. I saw triumph and defeat, but here I was standing still. I felt like my life was a revolving door. In and out for appointments, in and out for tests, in and out because I was sick again.
I hit rock bottom after a long night, I was tired, and Doctors were running out of answers. I didn’t know if God was trying to teach me a lesson, punish me, or was keeping me in this place for a more significant purpose. Through sleepless nights, bruised IV sites and the surgery I wasn’t ever afraid, I had a high pain tolerance at this point and didn’t cry through any of the pain. It wasn’t till I was given a diagnosis without a cure did I realize that I could be living with this for the rest of my life, and that was scary.
Fast forward a few years; my episodes became less frequent and not as intense, I had my feeding tube removed, went to college, and have been taken off all medications. I made new friends, got married, and have taken my life back.
But I have learned you can’t live your life in fear.
I did have an episode more recently for which my then fiancé’ was there. He stood by me even though he hates hospitals and I was able to share with him a small part of what shaped me into who I am. I don’t know how these conditions will affect my future, I have questions and fears every day as to whether it will flare up again, will I be able to carry a pregnancy safely, but I have learned you can’t live your life in fear. I would have missed so much if I let seven letters (CVS and SMAS) dictate how I lived my life. My journey hasn’t been easy and I know it’s not over but through everything God has given me the strength I’ve needed and I know he will continue to do so.
Each of our guest authors has submitted their own writing in order to share their story. The Sunkissed Peach is committed to creating a community in which people can be open and share honestly, in all walks of life. If you are triggered by any of these stories, I ask that you reach out to a mental health professional or counselor. If you relate or have had a similar experience, please feel free to comment and interact with the author.