More Than Her Illness: Faith Finds Hope in the Teen Leadership Council
Faith was in dire need of help when she arrived at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children at the age of 14. She had been to other hospitals and seen other specialists, but none were equipped to deal with her severe gastrointestinal conditions. That changed once she got to Orlando Health Arnold Palmer and its expert team of pediatric gastroenterologists and GI surgeons.
Over the following years, Faith— now 20 years old —spent a great deal of time in and out of the hospital. Unable to process food and water normally, she underwent her first major surgery at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer in August 2015. That was followed three years later by another.
With the support of the hospital staff, Faith was determined to have more power and control over her own health conditions.
“I didn’t want to keep going to the hospital to get my NG tube put back in every time I would throw it up,” Faith recalls, “so, I learned how to put it in myself.”
Throughout her treatments and healing, Faith has demonstrated the power of her resiliency, strength and positive attitude. She’s now working on finding the right combination of medication and nutrition that will help keep her body “happy” as long as possible.
“Of course, there are those times when my body needs fluids, or something goes wrong to where I have to stay in the hospital,” says Faith. “But I have come a long way.”
Besides making a lot of personal improvement, she also dedicates her time to helping other teenagers with medical issues. As a member of the Teen Leadership Council (TLC), Faith says she’s able to assist others in making the best out of what they’re going through.
“Being in and out of the hospital can get very frustrating, boring and depressing,” Faith says. “I wanted to be a part of a group of teenagers and young adults who know how it feels to be in that position, and also be a mentor and a friend to those who are in that situation.”
She often helps out with parties and events, such as sorting community donations of toys for children in the hospital around the holidays. She also has made strong connections with many people around her age and now considers them her friends.
“Being on the TLC has improved my hospital experience greatly,” Faith says. “I went from dreading going to the hospital in fear of being lonely and miserable, to making the best out of my time there.”
Before arriving at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer, Faith says she sometimes felt like a burden to her family. Living with a chronic medical condition creates a lot of strife and stress, but Faith says the staff helped her realize that she is so much more than her illness.
“They have helped – and are still helping – me grow and not let my disability become who I am,” Faith says. “Their support throughout my whole journey has been uplifting, and I am forever grateful for their love and support."
Are You Interested in Learning More About the Teen Leadership Council?
The mission of the Teen Leadership Council is to enhance the delivery of care to adolescents and young adults at Arnold Palmer Hospital through self-advocacy and the collaboration of patients, siblings and staff to provide state-of-the-art, family-centered healthcare, focused on restoring the joy of childhood and adolescence in an environment of compassion, hope and healing.Learn More Here