Fast forward to March 2007 and Felicia was now in the United States.
I was visiting my sister in Miami and fell sick, but this time it was different. When I got to the ER, the nurse took one look at me and said, ‘finally someone who is really sick’.
I had chest pain and difficulty breathing. My whole body ached. I was so weak that I couldn’t stand. Well, it turned out that I was on the verge of a Myocardial Infarction — a heart attack! I needed an emergency blood transfusion otherwise I would have gone into a coma. The doctors just wanted to make sure I survived the night. The next day I was told that I had two lung infections, my kidneys were failing, almost every organ in my body was failing. No one knew why.
After seven days and eight specialists, Felicia was given three days to live.
All they knew was that I was closer to death. The visibly frustrated doctor said to me, “One thing is obvious, you’re going to die and the autopsy will tell us why. We have all this equipment, so many specialists and yet we don’t know what’s wrong with you.” He told me they were releasing me to a hospice. “Do not be afraid,” he said. “But it’s the best we can do to make you comfortable. You will die in about 3 days.”
Oh my! What went through your mind at that moment Felicia?
All I could think of was that my mother will not survive my death. I was young. There were so many things I had not done, that would remain undone.
At midnight, I decided to pray. It sounds like a crazy story but it worked. Early, the next morning, before making his rounds, the doctor excitedly came to my room to tell me that I wasn’t dying! That I had lupus and that I would be leaving the hospital in three days. “Totally treatable,” he said.
Felicia finally had a diagnosis, a name to how she was feeling for past 12 years. She went from being given three days to die to three days to leave the hospital.
Just the night before, your prognosis was death. Upon hearing that you had lupus and that you’re not dying, besides feeling relieved of course, what went through your mind?
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Finally I knew what was wrong. Later I would find out there was no cure, yet, that I would have to take medications with increasingly worse side effects. The doctor didn’t tell me the hard work was only beginning. I don’t think it would have mattered though. All I heard was I wasn’t dying, not today anyway.