Suffering with illness and frequent hospital visits is not unfamiliar to me. My name is Jennifer De Sousa. I’m 32 years of age, and I’ve battled multiple medical conditions all my life since birth. If it wasn’t for me holding on to my faith and trust in God, I really don’t know where I would be today.
When I was born, I had a bruise on my forehead that ended up becoming a benign blood tumor called a Hemangioma that spread to the left side of my face leaving me with a massive defect, and blindness to my left eye. I’d also suffer from seizures and would pass out in school. I’d get bullied all the time, but God always sent me help when I most needed it. This boy in my class named Scotty would defend me from those who bullied me and we became close friends and still to this day, we keep in touch. I had six constructive plastic surgeries at Children’s Hospital in Boston from ages six to twelve and my image improved drastically.
However, suffering with medical conditions wasn’t over for me. The worst was yet to come. When I was fourteen, my parents decided to move to the Azores. The sister of the contractor that built our house one day had asked my mother if she would be willing to donate to the Lupus Foundation in exchange for a knitted butterfly that my mother still keeps till this day. My mother had no clue what Lupus was but she donated and received the butterfly. Two years after, I started getting very sick. I couldn’t even walk to the bus stop because I’d get so short of breath. When I was admitted, they ran all sorts of tests and couldn’t figure out what I had.
All my organs where shutting down and time was running out. I went by Med flight to Lisbon, Portugal with my mother and they rushed me to the OR where they drained fluids around the sac of my heart and then rushed me to the ICU where they placed me on continuous dialysis, several cardiac monitors, and a feeding tube. I was in and out of consciousness and at that point I left it all in God’s hands. While my mother was there, she told me that everywhere she walked in the city, she’d see something that said Lupus or would see butterflies.
When the physicians told my parents to start preparing for my funeral because they didn’t know what I had, all of a sudden Lupus came to my mother’s mind granted she didn’t know what it was. “Did you check her for Lupus?” She asked. They tested me and that’s what I had! God used my mother to save my life!
Back in 2005, I had another major flare and again it attacked my lungs, heart, and kidneys. My kidneys this time around completely failed and I had to plan my life around dialysis treatments three times a week which would practically drain all the energy out of me at age twenty-three. I fell into a big depression to the point that I even thought of ending it because I felt like an old lady in such a young body. I couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs because I’d get so short of breath. I was mad with God and stopped praying and going to mass but God was still there compassionate and understanding of my frustration. After a month of depression I reflected on myself and realized that I had never given up then, so why should I now.
I’ve always been a fighter and God was always there to help me. I started praying and going to mass again. I went back to work at the laboratory and started off with twenty hours and doing dialysis three times a week. Then gradually I went to up to the thirty-two hours I was originally hired for and did dialysis three times a week. My friends at work would ask me: “How are you doing this Jen?” My answer to them was: “Its God! God is carrying me through. He’s seeing that I’m trying to help myself, and He has given me the strength to get through it.”
After a year of doing dialysis and waiting on a transplant list, I received a letter from Bristol Community College stating I got admitted into the Nursing program. I kept praying to God and asking Him: “How am I going to do this Lord? It’s already so hard for me to do dialysis and work full-time. How am I going to add nursing school?” I kept praying and praying. My physician on the other hand always gave me the dark side of the story that if I didn’t get a kidney soon, he didn’t know what my prognosis would be, and I would reply: “God’s going to do something. I don’t know what, but He is!” I held on to my faith and trust in The Lord. A couple of days before nursing school started for me, my kidneys were miraculously healed! I had no kidney function and now was with almost all my kidney function back.
My physician asked me how this happened because kidney cells once their dead , their dead. They can’t reproduce. I told him: “I’ve been telling you all along that God makes miracles and that He was going to do something!” My physician was baffled and couldn’t give me a response to my answer! I’ve been off dialysis and in remission for eight years now with my old kidneys still functioning. Today I’m a Registered Nurse and Medical Lab Technician. I hold three degrees and dedicate a lot of my time serving The Lord through choir, lecturing, speaking at confirmation retreats, and going religious events. I’m also a published author and have published my story that has inspired and helped many.
My book is titled: “Metal Butterfly Lupus the enemy that lurked within me” and it is sold on www.amazon.com. If it wasn’t for my faith and trust in God, I don’t know where I would be. He is the reason I live. He is all my reasons!!! God Bless!!!