My name is Sonia Caraveo. I was born and raised in Mexico but moved to the United States when I was thirteen years old. I have been a stay-at-home parent for over five years and currently reside in Northeast Florida.
I have hereditary hemochromatosis. This condition causes iron overload. My diagnosis came after I sent my family a text. One morning I woke up feeling ill and decided to confide in my family. I knew they would offer me the comfort and hope I needed during a difficult time. I was suffering from joint pain, fatigue and bloating. I explained to my family how for the last three years I have been suffering with chronic pain. I told them how after visiting countless of doctors and specialists I still had no diagnosis. It was then when my family informed me my oldest brother was recently diagnosed with hereditary hemochromatosis. I met with my primary care doctor and asked to be tested. I was sent to get blood work and my results came back positive. The only treatment for this condition is blood donation. However, fortunately for me my condition is under control and at the moment I do not have to worry about therapeutic phlebotomy.
When I was first diagnosed with hereditary hemochromatosis I struggled mentally and emotionally. The thought of having to live with a condition that has no cure gave me fear and anxiety. I became worried about how my condition would affect me later in life. Sleeping became a problem, I constantly thought about “what if?” (what if I ended with cirrhosis of the liver? what if it affects my heart?).
One of the first things I did after being diagnosed was to follow the diet recommendations for hemochromatosis. My daily diet is based on fruits and vegetables. I avoid eating red meat and raw fish. I also looked into natural remedies to compliment my diet. Every day I take turmeric supplements with my meals to reduce the build-up of iron.
I knew my mental health was important to address too; I immediately looked for social support. I talked to my family and closest friends and told them how overwhelmed I felt. It is critical to have social support to feel you are not alone.
I am dealing with gallbladder inflammation and joint pain. But there is no evidence yet if my condition is causing these symptoms.
One of my favorite excerpts is from the book: “The Hope Quotient: Measure It. Raise It. You’ll Never Be the Same,” by Ray Johnston.
“When people lose hope, they lose their ability to dream for the future. Despair replaces joy. Fear replaces faith. Anxiety replaces prayer. Insecurity replaces confidence. Tomorrow’s dreams are replaced by nightmares. It’s a lousy way to live” (pg., 4).
This quote is a reminder to never lose hope. I had lost hope and I lost it. The quote reminds me to continue to fight for my health and my well-being. If I lose hope then there is nothing to look forward to. And even though I live with a lifelong condition, I need to remember to have faith and enjoy life.
Find Sonia | @caraveosonia_
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