• Rachel Loechelt

Inspirational Women: Makayla

We are so excited to have one of our good friends write for our blog today! She is going to share her struggles with an illness and how she overcame it. Thank you so much again for sharing, girl! Here is Makayla’s story…

   

"Hello ladies, Makayla here. I wanted to take the time to write this and share my story with you in hopes that it reaches you in some way. My story starts when I was about fifteen years old. I was in ninth grade at this time, just starting out. I had friends and a pretty normal social life at the time. You know how they say that moving from middle school to high school you lose a lot of friends? Well that’s what happened to me. Seemed as if a lot of my friends found “cooler” friends to hangout with as they would say, but you know how teens can be. I ended up feeling pretty alone during school at times and it was even worse at home.

   

My parents both worked a lot and we didn’t have the best relationship to begin with. As the school year went on things just seemed to get worse, especially at home. My parents and I would fight all the time to the point of it getting physical. Being a teen at the time I wasn’t as willing to back down like I was when I was younger. I started to get angry as I felt as if no one cared about me or how I was feeling. There were times that I even thought it would be easier to give up, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I started going to counseling and was put on medication, but nothing really seemed to work. At home I started to notice that my mom was gone a lot more, I figured that she was just working more hours as she did at times. My dad said she was but he was always doing his own thing… I didn’t think he noticed. As time went on and the school year ended I got a part time job working for the same company as my mother doing filing and errands. I actually liked working there especially  because I got to dress in business clothes and heels.

   

The summer went by quick and school was around the corner, I was not excited. The first month was the hardest as I didn’t have a lot of the same friends, especially not the girls. I would walk through the hall and hear them talking about me or calling me names. They started getting other people to leave me and I just gave up on even trying to keep them around. I came home one day and told my parents I wanted to leave and go to another school so I get away from all the drama because of them. They wouldn’t let me leave till the end of the year unfortunately. I was upset but I knew there was nothing I could do, so I decided to try to make the best of it. I still had some friends and that’s all I needed. Sophomore year was interesting to say the least. I was the kid who would leave early and didn’t want to join anything. I really wasn’t the greatest at school anyways so I just did enough to get by. Finally the school year ends and I couldn’t be happier. I found a school that was only four hours therefore I could work and go to school at the same time. The school was online which was new for me but I still had to physically go there, so I thought that was cool. I was nervous to be around new people but excited at the same time to get away from normal high school. It wasn’t so bad at first but it started to get stressful. Next thing I know one of the girls who started the drama at my old school starts going there, just my luck. I tried my best to stay to myself but it seem to work . I would come home and want to talk to my mom just to vent but it seemed as if she was always gone. My dad is a psychologist so talking to him seemed impossible.

     

School seemed to just get harder and my stress was so high I started to feel sick. I started getting really bad stomach aches and nausea all the time. I just thought maybe I wasn’t eating very well and the stress was making me sick. After a couple weeks of having the same issues, I decided to tell my parents and go to the doctor. When I went into the doctor they thought it was what I was eating but they still wanted to do a colonoscopy to make sure. I went for it and they found out that I had colitis. It was hard because one day I would feel fine and food wouldn’t upset my stomach, then other days it felt unbearable. I started losing weight which they said was normal at times due to the colitis, but it seemed to be happening really fast. I was normally about 125 pounds and went down to 110 in what seemed like a week. The doctor ended up referring me to a gastroenteritis because they couldn’t find anything else that could be causing it.

          

It was really frustrating during school because I had to go to the bathroom a lot. I always felt like I had to go or I was going to throw up. When my appointment finally came they did a bunch of test to see what else was causing all the all pain and weight loss. When the test came back we basically got the same answers, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.  It was really frustrating because I really thought that there was more to it then that. I got medication that helped but only for a short period of time. After a couple months of it not getting any better, it started to become worse. I wasn’t able to each much without getting sick and throwing up, sometimes to the point of passing out. My parents didn’t believe me when I was telling them that there has to be more to it. They thought that it was in my head and I wasn’t giving the medication long enough to work. Even at school my principle had talked to me about it and even asked if I was making myself throw up. I was so hurt and angry that anyone would even think that. I was never one of the girls that wanted to be thin and I always loved food. A couple weeks go by and at this point I can’t even get a few bites down without feeling so full and in pain. My parents then start to realize that there is something wrong and maybe we need to see a new doctor.           

     

We go to another doctor just to get the same test done with the same answers. We were all frustrated at this point and it caused more stress with my parents. Not even a week later I ended up in the hospital because I had been violently getting sick for a few days after trying to eat. I was at the hospital for a few days but again no luck with no answers, they try to say I was anorexic and doing it to myself. My parents of course started questioning me which made me even more upset. I really knew something was wrong and everyone was trying to tell me it was me who was doing it. I ended up in the hospital for the same thing just about every other week. Going from hospital to hospital just to be told nothing but the same thing was exhausting. I started to lose hope, even though maybe it was in my head all this time.  I was finally transferred to phoenix children’s hospital as I was still sixteen at this time. I spent a little over a week in there doing test after test and trying to gain some weight as I had gotten down to 100 pounds. For me, that was thin for I am a bit taller. I was honestly scared to see myself so small and sick when I was trying so hard not to be. A few days into my stay, my doctors finally come back with an answer. I felt so relieved but scared at the same time. They told me I had “Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome” which is very rare. What basically happened was I got so skinny that the artery had collapsed onto my intestine, which is why I wasn’t able to eat. I was glad that I at least had the answer and could prove that it wasn’t me. Now, we just had to figure out the next steps to try to fix it.           

     

They explained that I would need to have a feeding tube put in to be able to try to gain the weight back to see if the artery would lift back up. Getting the feeding tube was horrible and so uncomfortable. I had to wear a backpack with a pump in it to pump the formula into my stomach. I had to wear it all day, every day. I was supposed to do so many hours with it on, it was hard to always be exact. I spent a few weeks with the tube and going to the doctor to see if it was helping but sadly it was not. I had such a hard time in school with everyone always staring all the time and always being behind. I felt so alone because no one wants to hangout with the sick girl. Plus, I couldn’t do much anyways.

   

I couldn’t even walk through the store without getting sick or having to sit down. When you have an invisible illness it’s hard for others to understand because they can’t see it. I was sad and angry all at the same time. Angry because I didn’t understand why it had to be me and sad because I felt so alone. It got to the point where I wasn’t attending enough days due to my illness that they had to kick me out. I felt like everything was just getting worse and I started to think I wasn’t going to make it. I wasn’t gaining weight at all I was still losing it.

   

The doctor re-admitted me into the hospital to see if it would work to be monitored at all times. It seemed like I was in there for so long just waiting and waiting. Being in the same room day after day only made my mental state worse. Everyone was out there living their senior year and I was laying in a hospital bed almost every week. It really started to get to me. They had found a surgery that would work but they didn’t do it on minors. I was about five months away from being eighteen at this time so I was really hoping that maybe they would do it since it had gotten so bad.

   

On about day seventeen in the hospital, a surgeon came in and sat down on my bed. He asked me if I knew about what the surgery would entail and how I felt about it. The surgery was where they would go in and reroute my large intestine around the artery. I told him I really wanted to have it done because I didn’t know how I could live much longer. He decided that he would allow me to have the surgery and that I could as soon as the weekend passed. Monday came and I was really scared to be having a big surgery done but I was so ready to get better. I was in surgery for about five hours when it was only supposed to be two, so my parents were freaking out. I remember waking up with an even bigger tube coming out of my nose and was in a lot of pain. I had to keep the tube in to drain the fluid out and had to do breathing exercises after as well.


   

After about a day I had to try to get up to walk, it was so painful. I was walking at a ninety degree angle since I had my intestines all stitched up. I had to try to walk better every day and it was slowly getting better. Then the hard part came and I had to try to eat solid food. The first time I started throwing up, it was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. At one point I thought I had opened up my stitches and they were going to have to go back in. Luckily they were about to give me medicine to make it stop. I was able to get some food down and keep it down finally. My walking was getting better as well so things were starting to look up. The doctors told my parents that if I could do well for a couple more days then they would be able to discharge me. I was so worn out but I knew I had to really try to do my best if I wanted to go home. The days passed and I kept all my food down. I was able to walk up right so I was really happy to finally be able to go home. I was not completely recovered and knew it was going to take some time to completely heal from it. I was still really skinny and needed to gain weight but now I could eat so they told me it shouldn’t take long. I was discharged and able to go home now. The first few days home were hard but every day got better. It has been six years now and I am recovered from the syndrome. I still have colitis and irritable bowel disease flare ups from time to time but nothing like I had to deal with before.

 

That part of my life really affected me in a negative way as I felt so alone but that is why I wanted to write this. I had to find something to help me get through it all. I was able to find a site online for people who had invisible illnesses. I joined it and started talking to some people who were going through something similar. I actually found someone that was my age going through the same thing, she just lived in a different state. It was so nice to have someone to talk to who actually understood how it felt. We became close online and would talk on the phone frequently. It was only a few months into our friendship before she actually came to visit me. It was crazy to me that someone from a different state who I barely knew would want to come visit me. She came and it was like we had known each other forever. She actually ended up moving down here to be closer to me as we went through our journey with our illnesses. I don’t think I could have gotten through it without her.

                                  (Happy, Healthy, and Beautiful Makayla)


So, as my story ends, I want to say, 

Don’t be scared to need help. 

Don’t be scared to reach out and find people who understand. 

Nobody should have to go through anything alone or feel like they are alone whether or not you have an illness.

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