Passionate about accountancy, Christal Ramsaywack aims for success despite lupus diagnosis

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Christal Ramsaywack, 22, had just completed a long distance race for her school sports back in 2015 when she experienced the pains brought on by the mysterious and brutal disease, Lupus.

Despite the many challenges faced since her diagnosis, she still aims to complete her studies, pursuing a career in accountancy.

After feeling sudden but immense pains and fevers, Christal visited the Emergency Unit at Georgetown Public Hospital where she was told it was common pains and doctors even suggested her fever was due to a flu.

Christal during the time she was hospitalised.

Unsatisfied with the response but left with no alternative, 15-year-old Ramsaywack returned her classroom at the Bishops’ High School.

In the days ahead, she endured worsening pains and fever that eventually dissipated. But then in November 2015, Christal had a second flare of the lupus symptoms.

“You literally felt like you were being run over with a truck, over and over again with how this pain was. Your bones, your skin, it would hurt for someone to even touch you. That’s how immense the pain was,” Christal recalled in an interview with the News Room.

Soon after that she became anemic. The teen girl, at the time, returned to the hospital for her third trip and this time, the doctors decided to run some tests.

Nothing was found and she was left with many questions and no answers once again. Although physically, she looked fine, Christal said she was in constant pain and felt sick all the time.

She eventually dropped out of school and by January 2016 Christal’s skin became scaly and with no explanation, the doctors ran multiple tests for HIV, they were all negative. Soon after that she suffered heart and kidney failure.

Her health was deteriorating and answers a hard thing to come along. Her blood count dropped and it became very hard for doctors to run blood tests.

She said, “They would try boring me on my arm, my leg and get nothing until their last resort was to put me on a hospital bed that could flip and put the [central line] into my neck.”

In March 2016, Dr Baldeo Singh and a team of doctors were able to confirm that she has Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Her treatment then started and after she started responding well to her medications she was discharged from the hospital.

A tray full of the medications Christal needs for treatment (Photo: News Room/ May 13, 2023)

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks tissues and organs within. The inflammation caused by lupus can affect many bodily systems.

Due to sun exposure, parts of her body are constantly being affected which causes her to be sick. Notwithstanding, she said the disease has impacted her health but not her ability to continue pursuing her dreams.

Christal said there are times when the disease flares and she has to put plans on hold but she is confident even with the breaks, she will prevail.

“To me half of the battle of having lupus is the mental impact on you. Sometimes it makes you feel like a failure which in no one should feel that way. Because you can’t do certain things that you once did,” she said.

“My vision for myself was always to be an accountant that is why I am aiming for that now even though it’s slow, it’s hard. Even the other day I doubted myself. Can I do this? When I have the flares, it throws me back a lot but at the end of the day I’m like, you cannot let the lupus hold you back.”

She has self-studied to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC). She acquired grades one and two passes in five subjects. And she is among the top achievers for her Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) programme. Christal said her family and friends have supported her greatly.

 

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