My Sixteenth Street Story | Erika

For the most part, my life was pretty much normal. Four years ago, I began to feel really sick. I went to a local hospital where I was hospitalized multiple time in intensive care for weeks, sometimes even months. The doctors ran all sorts of tests but found nothing. I drastically gained weight until I finally reached a limit at which I couldn’t function anymore. I developed five new hormones in my body. These hormones were affecting my thyroid which in turn affected my hips, causing them to wear out. I developed diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and problems with my kidneys.

I felt defeated. My health affected me in all senses; physically, mentally and emotionally. At the time, my parents came to visit from Mexico. Little did I know, it would be one of the last times they would visit. I did not want to tell them how bad my health was, but they had so many questions about my weight gain and why I was limping. Because of my degrading hips, the doctor had already told me I would be in a wheelchair. The last thing I wanted to do was have them worry from so far away. I told them about everything except having to be in a wheelchair. We cried together. Eight days later, my father passed away. Five months later, my mother passed away. It was an impossible time for me, having to overcome my father and mother’s death amidst all my health issues. Especially while knowing I would soon be in a wheelchair.

My sister began to see my spirit lessen. She pleaded with me, “I am at the Sixteenth Street Clinic, go there. They will be able to help you!” I was hesitant, as I was about to lose my insurance, because I was no longer able to work full time or really even at all. My sister told me that even so, they would be able to help me. I thank God they were able to. I could not accept the fact that I would have to live the rest of my life in a wheelchair. My doctor at Sixteenth Street sent me to a bone specialist. The specialist said in order for me to get my hip replacement surgery, I would need to lose 200 pounds. At first, I thought to myself, “How will I be able to lose so much weight?” After consulting my doctor at Sixteenth Street, she suggested that I get the bypass surgery.

After the surgery, I followed the instructions the doctors gave me. It was difficult. I felt like the world was closing in on me. I felt alone. But my sisters never left my side. Their encouraging words kept me going. I asked God, “If you gave me this journey, you know why. You have put so many rocks in my path, I know you will teach me how to jump.” I gave felt the courage to take out my wheelchair and accept I would be on it, at least for a while. The wheelchair became my form of moving around. I asked myself, “What am I going to do to survive, how am I going to pay my bills and my rent?” Since I was no longer able to work, I started to make organic gorditas.I sold about 250 per week. I made and sold flour tortillas, tamales, and nopales.

At this point, I was still without insurance. But needed my hip replacement surgery. My sister told me, “Don’t worry I am going to talk to someone from Sixteenth Street Clinic and see what they can do.” Through Sixteenth Street, I was able to become a recipient of Special Access for Uninsured Patients (SAUP) and was accepted to get my first hip replacement surgery. Then, when I went to visit the doctor at the hospital, he told me the would no longer be able to operate. I felt defeated.

Luckily, another doctor from the same hospital reached out to me and said he was interested in performing the surgery. That doctor told me for him to be able to do the surgery, I would need to lose 20 an additional pounds in three months. I set my mind to it, and lost more than 20 pounds. He was able to do the surgery three.. My second surgery for my other hip replacement is scheduled for January 31st. With a lot of work, I have been able to start walking again with a cane.

I owe my life to Sixteenth Street. They provided me with all the resources I needed to live my life. Really, they gave me a second chance at life. Throughout my different surgeries, my doctor from Sixteenth Street was always very attentive to me and all my needs. My nurses at the clinic are also very attentive and caring. They worry about me as a person and care about my well-being. I know everyone at the clinic. I tell everyone that Sixteenth Street is like my second home. I spend most of my time there and I always get greeted with an, “Hola mija como estas.” I always feel welcomed. Through the help and support of my sisters, my church and Sixteenth Street, I have gained the strength to keep fighting for my life.