World Hepatitis Day – Krista’s journey with drug-induced autoimmune hepatitis
World Hepatitis Day is observed each year on 28 July to raise awareness, and in support of this we have RARE advocate Krista Norris share her journey with us.
Since being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2009 and drug-induced autoimmune hepatitis in 2020, Krista has used her makeup platform to share the ugly truths about her diseases and how she received a diagnosis.
After years of trying to self-manage my Crohn’s disease, I found an amazing gastroenterology doctor and decided on an official plan of treatment. I began taking infusions for my Crohn’s disease in January of 2020. We were hopeful and excited when I instantly began to feel better.
On March 25th in 2020, I began to itch. This itch began at my feet and worked its way up to my head. It felt like my skin was burning from the inside out and like a thousand mosquitoes had stung me all over. I chalked my symptoms up to us changing laundry detergents. I began to get new symptoms of exhaustion, nausea, depression and toughed them out until April 5th when we drove to the ER. The ER doctor reported my liver numbers as “astronomical”. Due to this taking place at the beginning of the Covid lockdown and because I was asymptomatic, the doctor released me and had me call my gastroenterologist immediately.
My gastroenterologist worked hard on my case to find answers. I received an ultrasound and daily blood draws that week. Each time I had my blood drawn; my reports showed that the liver enzymes had raised by almost 200. I quickly became jaundiced and a brighter shade of yellow each day. I lost taste, smell, remained nauseous, cold, began smelling ammonia, remained incredibly itchy, and was completely exhausted. Five days after the initial visit to the ER, my doctor called me in for an emergency liver biopsy. We needed a biopsy to truly see what was going on inside my liver. I prayed so hard that God would spare my life and searched rapidly through support groups for others who have been through something like me.
My amazing gastroenterologist found an experienced hepatologist and they concluded that I may have had an uncommon adverse reaction to my infusion treatments. I was officially diagnosed with drug-induced autoimmune disease, and I was just so elated to get a diagnosis.
I live my day-to-day life alcohol free, soda free, watch my red meat amounts, take zero medications (aside from an immunosuppressant prescribed by my doctors) and drink a ton of water. It took me almost a full year before I felt normal after my diagnosis. I don’t see a ton of side effects from the 50mg of the immunosuppressant anymore, but it makes me prone to skin cancer and requires me to be more mindful of sun exposure. I get monthly blood draws to check my white blood cell counts and my liver.
God, my husband and family, my makeup family, our church family, my ‘liver sisters’, friends and attentive doctors played a huge part in my fight to get better. Speaking with people who had been through what I was going through gave me so much hope. After receiving my diagnosis, I learned that there really wasn’t a community of people with (drug-induced) autoimmune hepatitis on many of the social media platforms. I wondered if there were others out there feeling alone, hopeless and in the dark.
Today, I freely share about both of my autoimmune diseases and try to be available to anyone who needs to hear my story. I believe that sharing my faith, my struggles, finding humour in the ugly and having a community can play such a huge role in a person’s recovery.
To find out more about Krista and to reach out for support you can follow her Instagram using the button below:
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