My name is Tamaralayefa Vanessa Sigha and this is my testimony. Tamaralayefa means nothing to compare with God. I have always been a positive and vibrant kid; engaging in school and home activities, making sure my energy was felt. Just like every child with a dream, I had dreams and aspirations too. The one thing I never dreamt of was me fighting for my life. I am fourteen years old now but I was twelve old when I started noticing the signs. Parts of my body began to look red and I started noticing swellings. It was usually so hot and extremely painful. Since we (my family and I) did not know what it was, we sought out a doctor’s diagnosis and it was said to be inflammations.
It often started as rashes on different parts of my body. At the time, I was attending Federal Government Girls College Buwari Abuja. My school was still in session and I stayed in the boarding house. I had to leave the hostel to visit different hospitals on appointments. But no physician could decipher what exactly the scales on my body were. I began using skin creams prescribed by the doctor. After a few weeks or months of applying these ointments, the scales disappeared. We would think it was over and I was finally healed and suddenly, they reappeared.
All these did not affect me or my studies at the time because they eventually away. However, I had to make certain changes. I moved out of the boarding house and to a new school closer to home to be close to my family. It was called Kings of Kings Academy. In January 2016 I noticed a pimple on the right side of my cheek, directly under my eye. It started to expand and it grew in to an injury. Before I knew it, it began to spread to other parts of my face and arms. As usual we went to the hospital and after two weeks it was diagnosed as Primary Epis Simplex. It meant I had a genetic condition which caused my skin to become fragile and blister easily. Since we finally put a name to what was happening to me, we started treatment. It looked like I was getting better but after a week it became worse.
At that time, I couldn’t grind properly with my teeth. Chewing became an issue. I couldn’t grip unto anything, not even my pen and I was writing my JSS3 (Junior Secondary School) promotional exams. It was a miracle I came out with good results. The symptoms became worse. From inflammations to swollen feet, blotted stomach, puffy eyes, poor vision, complete hair loss, fingertip and joint pains, mouth sores, discharge from the ear, constant fever and itching. We began to move from the dermatologist to the ENT who specializes in the treatment of disorders in the head and neck, ears nose and throat as well as to the optician and rheumatologist.
With all these going on, I had to find a distraction. I thought I was fit to participate in my school’s inter house sports so I joined the line of runners. As we began the race, I Immediately, fell on my face to the ground, hurting the same face that was already full of injuries. In seconds, I was drenched in my own blood. My principal and kind teachers came to my rescue and I was rushed to the hospital.
Despite all the creams and ointments prescribed by the doctors my skin kept getting worse. At this point my face was no longer mine. I terrified myself and kids around me. I had to put a hold on school because I could no longer cope. We switched from medicine to herbs, but it yielded no results so we went back to medicine. Eventually we found a doctor in another hospital, somewhere outside the country, who served as a medical detective. He also conducted a series of tests. We eventually ran over 50 different tests before we could figure out the illness.
Finally, it was diagnosed to be an auto immune disease known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Now, we all knew what we were dealing with. I got admitted to Kubuwa general hospital but my body had taken too much. Shortly after, I seriously began to fight for my life. I lost consciousness; my bones were weak, my knees bending, shoulders folding. I was thirteen years old but the illness had aged and disfigured me drastically. In one year, my whole life changed. I was a girl who had lupus and it seemed like my life was no longer my own. I was laughed at and treated roughly and I would cry. I became a nightmare to children who once flocked around me. It truly was a sad period of my life.
Even though I watched my beauty fade and my childhood leaving me, I did not forget who I was; a beautiful girl full of life. Knowing what the proper illness was, I began to get the proper treatment by the best team of doctors and nurses. My family gave up everything to be by me and fight with me. We knew getting out of this we would have to start our lives over. It was a battle but we overcame. I still take medications daily to continue the healing process but I know God was the one who saved me.
After a couple of months, I was able to begin rehabilitation. I can smile again and I will be returning to school soon. We had the opportunity of sharing our testimony with our home church, The Transforming Church. The outpouring of love was immense. With what was given and what is still being given we have begun a new life. The most important thing is that I was given a second chance at life. It is the best gift that I could ever have been given.