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updated: 3/6/2013 12:12 PM

Strong Survivor Fighting Against Lupus

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  • This is a picture of me when I was 15, during my 5 month stay in the hospital, the other side is of me now at 23.

    This is a picture of me when I was 15, during my 5 month stay in the hospital, the other side is of me now at 23.

Gladys Ijelu

Hello, my name is Gladys Ijelu and I have been fighting against lupus for 6 years now. Growing up, I was one of the most happy, fun- loving and most importantly, healthiest children amongst my youth. Although my mom's side of the family has a history of health related issues, there were never signs of lupus, up until the month of December, when My Life Literally Flashed Right before My EYES! I will never forget that day because everything happened so fast and for a second, I thought I was dreaming. It all started with a high fever, then the next thing I know I was passed out in the arms of my mom, as she was trying to get me down the stairs and into the car to take me to the hospital. Now some might say that my mom is nuts and why didn't she just call 911, but she was willing to take the risk, knowing that she could get me there ASAP, without having to wait any longer for the ambulance (which had happened before). While in the car, my mom kept one hand on the wheel and the other holding my hand, letting me know I would be ok. Although I was in and out of consciousness, I will never forget those precious words from her mouth, "I love you, Be strong baby, we're almost there." and sure enough, in minutes we arrived there and the last memory I have is the doctors telling my mom, that we have to take your daughter to intensive care, "Her oxygen level is extremely low and her organs are failing, we have to move fast!" After that, they put the oxygen mask over my face and before I closed my eyes, my mom's last words were,"I love you and I'll see you when you wake up." From there everything went down hill, and I was on life support for 2 days, followed by dialysis to treat my kidney failure there after. I spent the next 5 months confined to a hospital bed, with my new home being in the hospital. It was one of the toughest 5 months of my life and there were times when the doctors didn't think that I would make it, but when I look back now at it all, I wouldn't have changed anything because I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and that my experiences have made me a lot stronger and wiser, than I've ever been before.

I am currently in my third year, pursuing my Bachelor's Degree in Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I hope to go to Graduate School after and eventually achieve my highest goal, which is a PHD in Psychology. I have always told myself that no matter what I will never give up on anything just because I have Lupus. I love sharing my story because its a healing mechanism for me because I know it can help others, to hear what I have overcome in life and hopefully give them hope.

I want the world to know that lupus does not and should not define anyone as a person. I always tell people that, "I don't have lupus, lupus has me." With that being said, I want people to realize that people with lupus are just as capable of living a normal life and being successful, despite the hardships that might come along the way.