I have been extremely ill throughout my childhood. My life as a young child consisted of continued visits to and from the hospitals. At a very young age the doctors were very concerned about my health and did every single test that they had available at the time.
I can still remember my parents crying next to my bed while the doctors, who used all their resources to try and diagnose my conditions, try to explain to my parents how they will treat their little girl who is severely ill. Reverend Henry Green also visited me regularly to pray for me. My parents were desperate and would have done anything in their power to improve my health, even if it only improves with a tiny fraction.
Doctors suspected that I have cystic fibrosis and performed various test because it was the only logical explanation afters dozens of tests were negative. Cystic fibrosis is a hereditary disorder that affects the exocrine glands which causes the production of abnormally thick mucus that will result in the blockage of pancreatic ducts, intestines and bronchi which often results in respiratory infection. Apart from the cystic fibrosis, it was confirmed that I had pneumonia, bronchitis as well as abscesses on my lungs. I had to go for very frequent physiotherapy sessions in order to promote lung recovery and to improve my breathing. In addition to my problematic conditions of my lungs, I suffered from severe asthma since birth and was allergic to almost everything. As soon as my parents thought that they had my allergies under control I would have another setback due to another allergy and we would probably spend the next few nights in hospital again.
As I grew older, I was diagnosed with Scheuermann’s disease which is a form of juvenile osteochondrosis of the spine from an unknown cause. It affects your posture drastically and a Scheuermann’s disease patient is unable to consciously correct their posture which will result in a quite rigid apex curve. This disease is notorious for being the cause of very severe or even disabling lower and mid-level back and neck pain. Many patients suffering from Scheuermann’s disease have loss of vertebral height and even frequent a visual hunchback.
Doctors informed me that I would never be able to participate in any kind of sport. The doctors warned me that a sport injury could be very dangerous with my condition and that it would be best if I just avoid any kind of sport. I was advised to only use a particular kind of schoolbag that would place less strain on my spine.
I was not going to give up that easily! I was interested in various sports and decided to at least try some of them. I participated in netball, hockey, tennis, swimming and athletics. I was in pain after practises but according to me, it was still worth it.
I started to work soon after a matriculated. In 2008, my manager at work, Jaco Le Grange, encouraged me to start running. The facts that it is very difficult for a person with Scheuermann’s disease to participate in running marathons stayed in my head. At first this terrified me but then I decided that I will use these emotions as motivation!
I began with a 3km race. I felt fantastic after I have accomplished my goal and finished the race. I decided to train for bigger races. Soon I completed a 5km, 10km and a 15km race. This gave me the inspiration I needed to enter a 21km race. This was a big goal that I have set for myself and the amazing feeling of reaching my goal inspired me to train even harder. I ran the big race from Witbank to Middelburg, an entire 28km race. I did not only reach my goals, I demolished them and this gave me the necessary dedication to push myself even further.
In 2011 I started to seek a new challenge and I began to gym on a regular basis.
I felt great and loved the exercising. Unfortunately for me, it was time for another setback which made me extremely weak. I was unable to go away for a weekend and had to cancel my planned vacation because it was too far from a hospital. I had another severe allergic reaction to something; unfortunately we had no idea what I was allergic to.
I went to various doctors but none of them could diagnose my allergy. Each doctor thought he knew how to treat the allergy which results in another course of various medication and drugs, only to discover that they really don’t know how to help me. I was desperate and would have tried anything. I eventually ended up in a homeopath’s office where my red blood cells were changed to white blood cells by drinking a remedy three times daily.
A year passed and I still was not feeling any better. Another setback struck me when my hair started to fall out. I lost my hair to such an extent that the doctors described it as getting bold.
I was devastated! My long hair was one of the few healthy and pretty things in my life.
Just as I thought it can’t really get any worse I was diagnosed with eczema combined with a skin rash, as if eczema wouldn’t be bad enough to deal with. People use to stare at my skin and ask why my skin is looking like that. I use to cry myself to sleep for many nights.
People close to me would help me by rubbing in my back with special ointments.
My medical aid was depleted. It was a very tough time for me because my physical appearance was degrading due to my hair loss, eczema and skin rashes; my emotional state was sad and depressed because no doctor could diagnose or treat my symptoms and my financial state was also affected because I had to pay for all the doctors consultations and medication after the depletion of my medical aid.
My father contacted me from Saudi where he works, to inform me that he researched about a doctor from London who might be able to help me. I was very sceptical because no doctor thus far was able to diagnose me. I thought by myself: “Oh well, it is just another doctor. I have nothing to lose.” This doctor ran allergy tests on me again and discovered that I am allergic to histamine! Histamine is very commonly found in all tinned- and processed- foods as well as chicken and tinned cold drinks.
Finally I knew what I was allergic to- histamine!!
I realized that it won’t be easy to avoid histamine but I will definitely try my best.
I managed to get a nutritional and exercise program which improved my lifestyle drastically.
It changed my life completely and 2 weeks later I felt much better.
I obtained a brand new goal, I wanted to be on stage and participate in the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) competition.
I have entered my first IFBB competition in 2013 and WON!
I was on stage with an audience of more than 3000 people at the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) completion, I won first place as well as the overall category at the Mpumalanga Provincials and managed to achieve seventh place at the SA’s- I was a whole new person!
I asked Jenine van der Merwe to start a business with me which she agreed to. We were J&Jnine which represented our names in the fitness industry. We decided to allow our business to grow and I asked my best friend, Shaun Matthee to become part of our team due to his excellent skills in website designs and management.
We decided to call our business Ravenbodies and designed the Ravenbodies logo.
At a later stage Jenine left Ravenbodies to spend more time with her family and fitness career.
Ravenbodies grew to a big family of members who motivates and helps each other to reach their goals. The results that we achieve at Ravenbodies are truly outstanding!
We have big plans for Ravenbodies’ future!
If I don’t follow my eating and exercise program my body suffers. This hasn’t only changed me on the outside but at the inside as well.
I am sharing my life story with you to encourage each and every one of you.
I am a living witness which proves that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!
If I can do it- SO CAN YOU!
With faith and prayer, you are able to achieve ANYTHING!!!
RavenBodies Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/Ravenbodies
Diet help & Motivation by Jeanine Kilian - http://bit.ly/SkhSzS
Why I want to get in shape
I love working out because I love the feeling of crossing a finish line or hitting my fastest mile or going farther than I've gone before. The sense of achievement I get, sends me soaring. It's like hitting the reset button on life, it’s definitely my number one stress reliever. Nothing clears my head or makes me calmer than a good sweaty workout. My skin looks healthier, I sleep better, I've found new friends through fitness it also gives me that extra “me time” to do something good for myself.
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