While Covid-19 is the primary focus for the country there are other diseases that are affecting many. Recently, a nurse from the Toledo District lost her fight against an autoimmune disease. 26-year-old Crystal Young was diagnosed with Lupus in May of this year and had been struggling with severe pain and immobility. Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Lupus is not given much attention as cancer and a lesser-known disease in Belize but there are a number of persons, predominantly women, who are living with lupus. Young was a Nurse at the Punta Gorda National Health Insurance Polyclinic for over four years, her husband, Jordan Young spoke to Love News today and shared her experience after being diagnosed three months ago.
Jordan Young, Husband of Deceased: “That was a scary situation. The doctors didn’t know what it was but they ran a test to see if it was lupus. They actually wanted to rule out lupus and it was quite a shock for us and her but we still did a follow up test just to get more confirmation that it was and unfortunately it was lupus and so we had to proceed with whatever we could for her but she was getting symptoms from last year. Like I mentioned we went on an anniversary trip to Ian Anderson’s Cave Branch Lodge and she got some rash on her skin and she thought it was from being in the jungle and she went to treat that and they diagnosed her with a different sickness treated her for that but in the end it was lupus that they finally found was the cause for all the pain that she was going through over the last year and a half.”
Reporter: Did you guys ever apply to go abroad to get her care?
Jordan Young, Husband of Deceased: “Not really, like I said she was very weak and her body was weak and we didn’t want to take that chance of her catching the sickness and that being the cause of her death so we were scared – she was scared mostly. Her family wanted us to at least go to maybe Merida or Cancun or one of those hospitals because there isn’t really a lupus specialist in Belize it’s just mostly internists and I wish someone would take up that task and become a lupus specialist in the country because I’m noticing that a lot of people are starting to get lupus in the country and a lot of comments that I’ve read are saying that they have lupus too and they feel the pain that Chrissy went through. So we thought about it but we never went through with it because we were scared of COVID-19.”
Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems including your joints, skin, blood cells, brain, heart lungs, and the kidneys in the case of Young.
Jordan Young, Husband of Deceased: “The lupus that she had affected her kidneys so a lot of the kidney functions weren’t working too well which probably ended up causing her not being able to walk because her legs were so swollen from water retention. Her legs were her main issue. She had a lot of pain in her legs initially along with the low blood so we constantly had to give her blood and I guess it was a blessing that she was a nurse and people were always willing to donate blood to her so that was never an issue for us and then when she finally couldn’t handle it anymore there was some pain in her stomach that got her referred to Belize City and that’s when we knew it was serious and she was in the ICU for a couple of days because of the pain in her stomach and they were able to treat that and she was able to come home and then now we tried to do therapy for her so she can walk again. She didn’t take it too well, like I said she wanted to take care of her daughter, she wanted to comb her daughter’s hair and bathe her, she wanted to cook for me. You could see in her face that she really didn’t like her situation but she fought and she wanted to get better. I can recall the last call we had before she was put on the machine in the ICU in Belize City she said “don’t worry I’m going to fight this and when I come out I’m going to take care of you and our daughter and we’re gonna raise her the right way.” and those were some of the last words she told me and I saw her she was struggling to cope with what she was going through. It was really tough for her. I was really tough for her.”
The Minister of Health, Pablo Marin expressed condolences to the Southern Health Region and the public health community on the passing of their colleague. They noted that she was very passionate about her duties as a nurse and that she will be missed by everyone she interacted with especially in the community she worked.