My Journey to Greatness

I wanted to  take a moment and pen a letter to all of my family, friends, and supporters, as many of you have been worried and praying, even when you didn't know exactly what you were praying for (and I appreciate that greatly).  Needless to say, the last 3 months have been a whirlwind for me (and my immediate family).  For those that know me intimately, I'm very private by nature when it comes to my personal life, but I've received so many messages, posts, and comments from so many people, I want to be transparent.

For several years I've battle with fibroids; essentially tumors that develop in the uterus, and my doctor and I tried all that we could to minimize the pain and symptoms but nothing worked.  They actually continued to grow, and my last resort was to have a hysterectomy (partial).  I agreed to do so, and had my first surgery on Tuesday, April 17th.  Both the surgery and recovery were a breeze (or so I thought).  By the end of the week I was up walking around, I began driving again the next week, and was the poster child for a successful surgery and recovery process.  I waited the necessary six weeks before returning to work full time, which coincided with my travels to LA to expand my Elle Johnson Co. skincare brand.  I went to LA and did a trade show, visited friends, and really just took a moment to enjoy a different view, so many different cultures, and a different customer interaction.

April 16th - The night before my first scheduled surgery.

A little over two weeks after my return from LA, I was doing a photo shoot on Saturday, June 23rd and I just could not get into it.  I kept telling my photographer that I didn't feel like myself and that I just felt off.  I went through with the shoot anyway, but the images did not turn out great because I was completely off that day.  I'll probably never post them aside from the first photo in this post.  After the bombed shoot, I picked up takeout on the way home, but ended up not eating it because I didn't feel like myself.  Through the night around 2am I had excruciating pain, to the point of not being able to stand up straight.  Unfortunately this particular weekend was the same weekend that all of my family was out of town for our annual family reunion and I was here alone.  By Sunday morning the pain had worsened and I decided to go to the ER and get checked out.  I could hardly walk, but made it out of my apartment, got into my car and began driving.  Because of the amount of pain, I knew I couldn't make it to Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte where I had my original surgery, so I decided to visit Concord Hospital instead, which is where I live.  The hospital is literally 3 miles from my complex, but it felt like an eternity driving there.  I finally arrive, literally stumbling from the parking lot to the entrance, as 3 people walked by and around me with no one offering assistance.  I make it to the registration desk, tell them my name and that I'd had surgery weeks prior and was having excruciating pain, and I begin to pass out!  A nurse nearby catches me, thank God, and I'm rushed to the back.

I come to in the back where there's bright lights, nurses, and 2 doctors that evaluate my condition.  I'm asked about an emergency contact, which there is NONE because my family on my father's side is away for the annual family trip, and my mother lives in Florida.  I give them my next best option, Rashon Carraway, who has been my bestfriend for many years and seen me through so many different situations.  He's called and advised that they are taking me into emergency surgery immediately.  Just as he gets there I'm being prepped for emergency surgery for repair of cuff dehiscence (a rare postoperative complication unique to hysterectomy, only seen about 0.24% of the time - aren't I the lucky one).  The doctor does the surgery and I'm put into my room to rest and recover.  During the surgery, not only does the doctor repair the cuff, but he discovers that I have severe Sepsis, a life-threatening condition that arises when the body's response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs, and I'm one step away from shock!

Immediately I'm put on high dose antibiotics, so much so that they run an IV to both of my arms.  The infection was so far along that my white cell count was out of control because my body was fighting itself.  The normal number of white blood cells in the blood is 4,500 to 11,000, at the time of my admission, mine was 24,000!  Blood work was done every 3 hours to ensure the antibiotics were working and that my cell count was going down, but it was certainly a grueling process.  My arms were black and blue in many places because of how many times I was getting stuck.  Even my nurse looked at my arms and almost teared because of the bruising.  

After finally getting my white blood cell count reduced, I now faced another obstacle and was introduced to another team of doctors, the Oncologists.  As soon as I heard the word Oncologists I was prepared to freak out.  And when they asked my mom and everyone to step out of the room so that they could talk to me, I really was about the lose it.  Luckily, they wanted to talk to me and explain my second official diagnosis, drug induced thrombocytopenia; right, I can't pronounce it either.  Basically, because they had to treat the infection so aggressively it caused my platelet count to now be too low requiring a blood transfusion.  The tranfusion is a success and I'm finally headed in the right direction.  I stayed in the hospital almost a week with both my parents arriving on day 2 of this ordeal.

After being released home I went back to my apartment for a few day since my mom was still here to help me, and had to stay with my dad for just over a week after she returned home so that I could have assistance.  My days consisted of wake up, eat, take meds, watch a little tv and go back to sleep.  I was still swollen from my surgery and the infection, so much so that I looked pregnant for awhile, but it eventually went down (the rest is just fat, lol).  Throughout this ordeal I found the mental recovery to be so much greater than the physical.  I struggled with sitting around the house doing nothing.  Watching opportunities for my brand slip away because I was in no shape to do anything.  I think the hardest blows came from those that I thought to be friends.  The guy that I was dating at the time never showed up!  He was out of town on business when I first had surgery, but even after his return, he never came.  Needless to say, that was the end of that.  I had a girlfriend reach out and say that she was coming by, but again, she never showed up either.  Granted, I received a few texts and inboxes here and there, but for the people that I'd been there for, the people that I would have walked across water to get to . . . . . CRICKETS (no visitors).

For the last 15 years I've been an entreprenuer, so I struggled with just sitting and being a regular person.  In all honestly, I did not know how to be regular (but I'm working towards doing more normal stuff and not only centering my life around business).  I found comfort in the one person that I knew I wanted to live for, and that's my pumpkin, Z'khiyah.  She slept with me most nights and entertained me by playing Uno or watching cooking shows (which she loves).  

So here I am 5 weeks post surgery and I feel alot better.  I still try and take it easy and get plenty of rest, but I'm alive and kicking.  During my down days I questioned God why would this happen and why would it seem as if those key people would desert me and have no true compassion for me and my situation, and finally I felt like I heard his voice.  This was a lesson to me to depend on NO ONE but him.  As I lay in bed many days I'd wonder how I was going to make the medical payments, how I was going to pay my house bills, how I was going to provide for my daughter, how would I recover from this, but EVERY time, in the nick of time, God would show up and the situation would be taken care of.

This is me today, unbothered and basking in the beauty of life, good or bad.  Sidenote: this was the first time I'd done my hair since surgery.  I was a hot mess before this, lol. 

Now I'm in a rebuilding phase for Elle Johnson Co.; marketing my brand, introducing my product line to new audiences and still on my quest to greatness.  I'll be very transparent and honest in saying two surgeries back to back has certainly taken a financial toll ($100k+).  Prior to this, I made a commitment to participate in an indie brand event in New York that would certainly fuel and assist my brand with getting to the next level, but that hangs in the balance as financial recovery takes some time, and the date is fastly approaching in the next few weeks.  I've committed to being there with my brand, but as of today, it may not be feasible, and will be a great opportunity missed.  As a new indie brand, New York events are key, because that's where most of the Press is, and to grow, I have to be visible.

Many of you have asked, do I need anything, or how can you help?  Your prayers have been much appreciated and I greatly appreciate your concern; your words have been great encouragement during this process.  For those that would like to assist me in recovering and getting back in position, I've listed a Donate Now button below for financial contributions.  I appreciate you all and thank you!

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