Thu | Feb 22, 2018

The Julie Ann Lewis story - Pt 2 - The birth of Julie's Escape

Published:Saturday | December 16, 2017 | 12:04 AMTamara Bailey
Lewis in hospital during one of her low moments.

Mandeville, Manchester:

Last week, we introduced to you a woman of resilience, who through an illness referred to as secondary adrenocortical insufficiency (where a lack of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) prevents the body from producing enough cortisol the body's stress hormone), has found an escape and started her own business.

We follow up with accounts of her struggles on her journey to creating a bearable and fruitful life.

In 2016, Julie Ann Lewis had bouts of physical breakdown caused by her illness and she really had high hopes for better days, but those days seemed far fetched.

"In early 2017, I had another very severe adrenal crisis. I vomited for one entire night. I gave myself my emergency injections for days and just didn't feel better. I knew it was time to be admitted, and I was admitted in the Hargreaves Memorial Hospital in Mandeville for 17 days. I truly believe that I would not be alive had it not been for my high dose of intravenous steroids."

She continued, "At one point during my stay, I thought that my time had come to depart this earth. So I called Deacon James from my Catholic Church in Negril and told him that I needed a priest in Mandeville. The same evening, Father Van came. I had my Mass and I was now at peace and ready to depart this world and have no more suffering or pain. This point between life and death is the hardest road that I have ever had to walk. But God had other plans for me."

God had other plans indeed, and Lewis began her journey of mental strengthening even as her body learned to adapt to the motions of her illness.

"In September 2017, I got a cortisol pump - another new thing to adjust to again. The pump has a tube which connects to a needle, which I insert in my tummy. I have to change this needle every three days. The pump uses my steroid injection. I get steroid infusion 24 hours a day now. My only break is to shower. The pump requires some extensive tests in order for the ideal rate to be set. And it also requires time. So far, I am having some good days, but I still have my off days."

 

SUPPORT SYSTEM

 

Lewis attributes her improved state to the awesome team of doctors over the years in Jamaica: anaesthetist, endocrinologist, pulmonologist/

internist, vascular and general surgeon, cardiologist, ophthalmologist and naturopath, and also to the support groups online.

"My illness continued to take my life elsewhere, forcing me to think of another way to earn an income as being a full-time pharmacist was not possible anymore. My sister-in-law, Lisa, relocated to Canada several years ago and she gave me her jewellery supplies inventory. I began to play with the beads and findings to create simple designs. In March 2017, creating jewellery became my fun escape and my source of therapy. Developing the business from home was a perfect fit for me because of my unpredictable days."

Thus 'Julie's Escape' was born.

"My jewellery is currently in some hotel gift shops and I have also attended a few events. I should also mention that I am a part of the Made in Manchester group of women entrepreneurs. Day by day, I continue to grow as the demand grows. The response I am getting is overwhelming, and I can see an extremely successful future for Julie's Escape. This I can attribute to my artistic style being experimental."

"I enjoy the liberty of allowing each design to progress as it will and often the piece develops very differently than what I had envisioned. Oh, and colour is a must! My jewellery reflects my mood, my ideas and my imagination. Inspiration is something I stumble on everywhere I go," she ended.

To buy Julie's pieces, call

(876) 361-6337 or email lewisjulieann@gmail.com.

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com