This was the beginning of my journey in health and wellness. I was determined to regain my health and independence. I was finally released from the hospital and sent home with daily instructions on how to manage the pain, the flare-ups, and the tell-tale signs of more critical care with a drug treatment regimen. I had to learn to consume an unimaginable number of medications, taking multiple pills at different times daily with countless side effects. These were not the typical Flintstone vitamins I had once enjoyed! My body and joints ached, my face was flush with what is referred to as a butterfly rash, and my hair was falling out. I felt inflammation throughout my joints and body. It was difficult to tell if the medications were helping or hindering me. With the onset of neuropathy and loss of sensation in my hands and feet, it became apparent how inflamed my central nervous system was. I began discovering new symptoms as time went on, and doctors would then prescribe me additional medication to treat my symptoms. The side effects of the medications were very real and debilitating. Operating on what felt like guesswork alone, I was entering a vicious treatment cycle while rotating between rheumatologist, cardiologist, immunologist, and endocrinologist appointments regularly. A mystery illness is much more pervasive than conceivable. Without significant change to my health and unrelenting strong symptoms and health ailments, I was brought in for a discussion with my doctors and parents about next steps if things did not begin to get better, which was to remove the lining of my heart, known as the pericardium. Before pursuing this very dangerous option, they suggested a drug trial that could help but had serious side effects that could cause cancer and infertility.The suggested steps were nothing I was able to accept. I should be going to school and preparing for college. How could I, and why would I take a drug that would cause such damage to my body? How could I make myself healthier? What steps could I take to heal and protect myself? It was from this moment that I sought out change and relentlessly pursued healing myself by combining eastern and western medicine.With word circulating about my health, an expert alternative medicine doctor contacted me. Hearing of my story, he said, “I am a healer, and I want to help heal you holistically.” He amazed me by reaching out, and insistently refused payment for any treatment. He said, “See if this helps—and if we can get your nervous system functioning properly and your body in alignment to better defend itself.”Deep down, I knew my only hope in attacking this virus was a strong immune system. While the medications I was prescribed were critical for my care at the time, they were also strongly suppressing my immune system. Meeting this alternative medicine doctor had offered me hope and insight into healing my body. From that vantage point, he gave me perspective and knowledge to help strengthen my immune system holistically. The doctor taught me ways to reduce nervous system disruption, and how health can return to my body—things you do not hear in typical conventional medicine.The combination of both conventional and alternative treatments began to show a significant reduction in my symptoms, and my body was responding. Committed to strengthening my immune system as if I were preparing for war, I was able to slowly decrease the heavy doses of medications. Within six to twelve months of adopting a healthy lifestyle and alternative modalities, my body responded incredibly. My last-resort surgery and need for medication treatment with cancer-causing side effects were no longer on the table! I was finally making a turn to control this mystery illness.

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