Wed | Feb 19, 2020

‘Imagine having to smile when you feel like you’re dying’ - Nurse seeks US$12,000 for hip-replacement surgery as she battles lupus

Published:Monday | January 20, 2020 | 12:28 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer

Life has not been easy for registered nurse Kerry-Ann Hamilton, but her resilience and determination to overcome has seen her stepping up to each challenge like a champion. But there are still days when she needs a helping hand.

Hamilton, who works at Central High School and lives in Longville Park, Clarendon, had her life disrupted while studying for a degree in nursing at the Northern Caribbean University.

In 2010, she was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosis, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in an aim to protect itself.

Ten years later, Hamilton still vividly recalls the day she got ill.

“I had a sudden loss of appetite, which I found very strange because I was always a food lover. One day while sleeping, I felt extremely cold, so I got up for a blanket to put on the one that I was already using. I then realised that the bed and blanket felt wet. That’s when I realised I had a fever,” she told The Gleaner.

“I then took a dose of Panadol and went back to bed. I also remember that my hair was braided and one of the braids fell out from the root,” she related.

She said she became hysterical when more of her hair began falling out.

The following day, she went to the doctor, but after several visits and blood tests, she still had no idea what was happening.

Joint pains

When she began experiencing joint pains, a public health nurse told her she suspected it was lupus.

After researching it, she requested that her doctor send her to do the test, which confirmed her suspicion.

The diagnosis took a mental, physical and emotional toll on Hamilton, forcing her to take a break from her studies.

Going back to university called for resilience and determination as she said she felt out of place – skinny, little hair – but she said she was determined to get her degree.

Her final year was the worst and the hardest, as she got very ill and had to be admitted at the Kingston Public Hospital. A friend regularly brought her notes and studied with her at the hospital.

When she was discharged, Hamilton still had to endure severe pain and swelling, from her abdomen to her ankles, but she never gave up.

“God knows, it wasn’t easy. There were many times I had to miss classes because I had doctor’s appointment. University was rough and tough, but I had some family members and great friends for support,” she said.

Last year, she started experiencing excruciating pain which made even getting out of bed difficult.

“Imagine going to work to care for the sick when you are feeling sick yourself. Imagine having to walk around with a smile when you literally feel like you’re dying,” she said on her experience.

An X-ray later showed she has osteonecrosis, and an MRI revealed it in both hips at stage three to four, the last two stages.

On January 7, Hamilton was told that she would need hip-replacement surgery to fix the problem.

This latest hurdle has stumped her and she is now reaching out for help to overcome it, as she does not have the financial means to get it done.

“What has kept me going is a drive that I have to stay alive, and my friends and families who are there for me. My faith in God kept me. Even when I felt as though I couldn’t and didn’t pray any more, I know I had persons in my corner who were always praying for me,” she shared.

Hamilton needs US$12,000 to offset her medical expenses and to do the surgery. A GoFundMe account has been created for persons wishing to assist.