Things That Matter

This Man Suffered From A Rare Syndrome That Burns You From The Inside Out, All Because He Had A Reaction To His Anti Depressants

*Warning: Graphic images ahead*

A man’s reaction to anti depressants was so bad, his skin started peeling off his face. The kin on his entire body flaked off, leaving his flesh exposed and at risk of infection. He was diagnosed with a rare syndrome caused by medication that targeted his bi-polar disorder. 

Jonathan Laird, from Greenfield, Indiana, was prescribed lamotrigine in April 2016 to boost his mood after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Within a month of taking the pills, the 38-year-old was suffering flu-like symptoms and his eyes became so sore it felt as through ‘glass was piercing them’.

Laird was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

The symptoms escalated quickly, and he developed red raw sores inside his mouth and lips, as well as on the back of his throat and across his entire body.

Mr Laird was taken to a hospital and was immediately transferred to an intensive care unit where he was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS).

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a rare but serious disorder that affects the skin, mucous membrane, genitals and eyes. The mucous membrane is the soft layer of tissue that lines the digestive system from the mouth to the anus, as well as the genital tract (reproductive organs) and eyeballs. Stevens-Johnson syndrome is usually caused by an unpredictable adverse reaction to certain medications. It can also sometimes be caused by an infection —and in Laird’s case, it was a reaction to Lamotrigine.

The syndrome often begins with flu-like symptoms, followed by a red or purple rash that spreads and forms blisters. 

The affected skin eventually dies and peels off. Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a medical emergency that requires treatment in hospital, often in intensive care or a burns unit.

The skin on Mr Laird’s face started rotting and flaking off, leaving his flesh exposed and prone to infection. 

Doctors wrapped his face in pig skin grafts, which keep affected wounds sterile before a proper skin graft can be done. They have long been used as a wound dressing in burned patients.

When Mr Laird was admitted to hospital, doctors scrambled to save as much of his healthy skin as they could.

They even stitched his eyes shut for two weeks in a bid to protect his eyeballs because the disorder had made them ultra-sensitive to light. He recalled: ‘My eyes started to feel like they had little pieces of glass in them, it was very uncomfortable, and I was scared to touch them or rub them because it literally felt like I was going to cut my eyes. ‘I thought, “Is this Stevens Johnson Syndrome?”’

‘When you have Stevens Johnson Syndrome you basically burn from the inside out,’ said Jonathan.

‘It starts as a rash and then the rash erupts into blisters. ‘They stitched my eyes shut to protect my vision, they bound my hands together so I couldn’t rip the tube out that was down my throat. ‘I don’t remember much. I fell in and out of consciousness. ‘I felt like I was dreaming all the time, I don’t think I really knew that my eyes were stitched shut. ‘They also put pigskin all over me to prevent infection. ‘They were afraid I was going to get pneumonia at one point, so they had to make sure that everybody who came to see me had gloves on and gowns.’

Jonathan was unable to speak and had to communicate with his family by writing down answers to their questions. 

He said at one point he wrote ‘am I going to die?’ which was hard for everyone to read. After 11 days in ICU, he was transferred to a burns unit and his eyes were unstitched after two weeks. Jonathan was released from the hospital last summer and continues to recover while writing a blog about the condition. He added his hope was to show that those affected by Stevens Johnson Syndrome are not alone. ‘Be brave and you’ll get through this, and the person you’re going to be on the other side of this is a much stronger person,’ he said.

Steven Johnson Syndrome(SJS) affects only one in a million people in the United States, with only 22,000 new cases each year.  

The damage the syndrome causes in just a few short weeks can include(perhaps for the rest of your life) any of the following: Sores in mouth/throat/eyes/skin, several blisters, scars, shedding of skin and internal organs, chronic pain and fatigue, blindness and in some cases death.  There is no way to stop the avalanche of these reactions and in the words of medical professionals “it needs to run its course through the body.”  The treatment does include pain killers, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, steroids, IV’s for hydration and food.  SJS is aggressive, devastating and extremely painful for loved ones to witness.  

New CDC Report Tracks Activity Levels Of Adults And Puerto Ricans Are The Second Most Sedentary

Culture

New CDC Report Tracks Activity Levels Of Adults And Puerto Ricans Are The Second Most Sedentary

Jonathan Borba / Unsplash

A new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report reveals that nearly half of Puerto Ricans get no exercise beyond walking to and from their cars and around the house. That’s more than three times the national average. The study concluded that the most significant factor in differences in the prevalence of physical inactivity was when controlled by race or ethnicity. Latinos were found to be the most sedentary (31.7 percent), marginally followed by non-Hispanic blacks (30.3 percent) with non-Hispanic whites having the lowest rate of physical inactivity at 23.4 percent. Respondents were classified as physically inactive if they responded “no” to the following question: “During the past month, other than your regular job, did you participate in any physical activities or exercises such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening, or walking for exercise?” Every single state or territory found that more than 15 percent of adults were physically inactive.

The lack of physical activity leads to health problems that cost Americans $117 billion annually. The CDC is cautioning Americans, especially Americans of color, that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to 1 in 10 early deaths.

It’s unclear why Latinos and Black Americans are so singularly sedentary.

CREDIT: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL

Some think that the cause is regional in nature. Americans concentrated in cities and urban areas are more likely to get exercise simply because of the proximity to exercise facilities and pedestrian commutes. The map above illustrates the inactivity levels of each state and territory for every American of every race and ethnicity. The South is significantly more sedentary than the North and the West regardless of one’s race or ethnicity. 

That said, when you look at the same states and factor for Latinidad, the statistics significantly worsen.

CREDIT: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL

When race or ethnicity isn’t a factor, Oregon appears as one of the most active states in the country. When you look only at the Latinos living in Oregon, it becomes one of the worst in the country. That means that non-Hispanic white people either have more access to those gym memberships or faraway hiking trails or incorporate it into their culture more than Latinos living in the same area. 

It’s easy to assume the socio-economic factors at play here — that minorities are so disenfranchised that they simply don’t have the time or energy to exercise after their long or labor-intensive workdays. Latinas have the highest lifetime risk for diabetes across all demographic groups, according to non-profit Salud America! A small research study at the Fair Haven Community Health Center found that fear of injury and lack of energy were the most common barriers for Latina women. This is when the cultural trope of Latina moms being afraid for you to go too close to the freezer or you’ll catch pneumonia becomes pathological.

According to the CDC, Hispanic adults are 50 percent more likely to suffer from diabetes and liver diseases than non-Hispanic white adults. Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle have been linked to diabetes meaning that the map of inactivity is bad news for Hispanics. A more sedentary lifestyle has a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes and worsening the effects if someone already has the disease.

Meanwhile, when you look at just non-Hispanic white Americans, the map brightens up just as significantly.

CREDIT: CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL

“Too many adults are inactive, and they may not know how much it affects their health,” said Ruth Petersen, MD, Director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “Being physically active helps you sleep better, feel better and reduce your risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers,” she added in a media statement. The CDC has found that engaging in such physical activity could prevent 1 in 8 cases of breast cancer and colorectal cancer. 

The CDC is working to get more Americans to engage in physical activity for 25 minutes a day by 2027. In order to do this, the Surgeon General has called on cities to consider walkability as part of their city planning process. “Individuals and families are encouraged to build physical activity into their day by going for a brisk walk or a hike, walking the dog, choosing the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, parking further away in the parking lot, walking or cycling to run errands, and getting off the bus one stop early and walking the rest of the way,” the federal agency said in a statement.

The study’s data came from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an ongoing state-based, telephone interview survey conducted by CDC and state health departments. The maps used combined data from 2015 through 2018.

READ: Food, Culture, And Physical Activities Are All Factors In Latinos Being Most Likely To Develop Diabetes

A Girl In Puerto Rico Died From An Illness Because The Only Hospital In Her Area Was Destroyed During Hurricane Maria

Things That Matter

A Girl In Puerto Rico Died From An Illness Because The Only Hospital In Her Area Was Destroyed During Hurricane Maria

@ValericaCollazo / Twitter

There is sad news out of Vieques, Puerto Rico where a young teenage girl has passed away after suffering flu-like symptoms. Jaideliz Moreno Ventura, 13, died on Sunday after her condition worsened she began convulsing. Now, her family is pointing the blame on the island’s inadequate medical facilities. 

Vieques, a Caribbean island off of Puerto Rico’s eastern coast, hasn’t had a working hospital in over two years. That’s because its old primary hospital, Family Health Center Susana Centeno, was closed due to damage from Hurricane Maria, which hit the island more than two years ago.

What started out as just flu-like symptoms turned into a tragedy within the span of three days. 

It all started last Friday when Jaideliz told family members that she was experiencing flu-like symptoms. According to local media, her uncle, Carlos “Prieto” Ventura, said that she had “a fever, a sore throat, and a headache.” She was then taken to a hospital in Puerto Rico for a checkup and to be tested for influenza. While the results of the test came back negative and she returned back home to Vieques, things got worse over the weekend. 

By Sunday, Jaideliz’s symptoms only got worse as she began to have spasms and severe head pain. After the family took notice of her increasingly worse conditions, she was taken to the only health facility on the island, the Center for Diagnostics and Treatment, which was due to Hurricane Maria destroying its old hospital. According to NBC News, the clinic lacked proper medical equipment to help Jaideliz. Her cousin, José Ventura, told the news outlet that the facility didn’t have a working mechanical ventilator for oxygen, only an older manual air pump. 

By 11:30 a.m. local time Jaideliz was pronounced dead as she was being transported to Puerto Rico on an air ambulance. 

For those living on Vieques, receiving medical attention isn’t easy. Many have to take a boat to receive medical attention in Puerto Rico where trip times vary from 30 minutes to multiple hours. 

There is growing anger and blame about the teen’s death with many people pointing blame at the inadequate assistance that Puerto Rico and nearby islands have received since Hurricane Maria hit in 2017. The situation in Vieques is a perfect example of that as residents lack nearby health services and aid. 

“If we had more resources, she would be with us right now,” her cousin told NBC News. “They have forgotten about us.”

Puerto Rico’s Health Secretary, Rafael Rodríguez Mercado, says that he has ordered an immediate investigation into the death of Jaideliz and which circumstances could have caused this tragedy. Back in December, Democratic lawmakers requested an investigation into why FEMA hadn’t done anything to help rebuild Vieques’ only hospital. But lawmakers alerted FEMA about this issue in May but there was never any response. 

“In Puerto Rico, we talk a lot about how we are treated as second class citizens, but the people of Vieques and Culebra [another island off the coast of Puerto Rico] are being treated as third-class citizens,” Edgardo Román Espada, president of Puerto Rico’s Bar Association, told NBC News last May. 

Jaideliz’s family is using this tragedy as a wakeup call for health officials to do something about the deteriorating situation on the island. They are hoping for more medical supplies and equipment so this situation doesn’t happen again.

On Wednesday, a vigil was held in the girl’s honor as her family called for help. They say that they “don’t want Jai’s death to be in vain” and made the plea for more medical assistance. Her mother says the island needs to “have a dignified hospital, with medical equipment and supplies —so that no other mother will have to go through what I am dealing with now.” 

“Up to a point, the people feel abandoned, that politicians come and go, and there are no bonds of affection and our feelings are obvious. We live this problem and that is why our pain here. All this adds more regret and anguish to our people,” her uncle told local media. “This is what you live every moment on our island. We need more sensitivity. ”

This tragedy followed what has already been a tough start of the year for Puerto Rico as a 6.4 magnitude quake shook the island back on Jan.7, killing at least one person, destroying homes and leaving most utility customers in the dark. There has been an estimated $110 million in damages caused by the quake. 

READ: This Photographer Took Hundreds of Stunning Photos of the Most Endangered Indigenous Tribes Across the World