From Lupus Symptoms to Fashionista Fantasies: The Incredible Journey of Essqulena Brown

Illuminating the Cost of Lupus Navigating the Harsh Reality of Medical Debt and Limited Access to Emergency Services in Mississippi

As a lupus patient in Mississippi, I’ve accumulated over $190,000 in medical debt, and sadly, ambulances refuse to assist us.

A Tale of Fashion, Fevers, and a Fighter’s Unrelenting Spirit

Image Courtesy of Essqulena Brown

They say fashion is a form of self-expression, an art that can make you feel like a superstar. Well, let me introduce you to the incomparable Essqulena Brown. Her journey from lupus symptoms to fashionista fantasies is enough to leave anyone in awe.

Picture this: Essqulena, a vibrant beauty with a zest for life, kicking off the year 2012 like a glamorous diva, strutting her stuff with a brand new car and a promotion. But beneath her stylish exterior, strange fevers were brewing, leaving her exhausted and puzzled. It was like a fashion faux pas that no trendy outfit could fix.

Doctors, armed with their prescription pads, tried to solve the mystery, handing Essqulena prescriptions for antibiotics and iron pills. But alas, these pills were no match for the baffling illness that refused to reveal its name.

And then, it happened. On a sunny trip to Florida, Essqulena’s dream getaway quickly turned into a nightmare. A pool session ended with her covered in a rash, her fever soaring to 103.5. Thankfully, her knight in shining armor, aka her husband, rushed her to the ER. That doctor wanted to keep her there, but her husband knew she had to get back to Mississippi, their home turf.

The journey back was a blur, like a fashion runway show on fast forward. When Essqulena regained consciousness, she found herself in a hospital room, bewildered and clueless about how she got there. Weeks later, armed with a new set of prescriptions but still without any answers, she discovered her once graceful stride had transformed into a stumbling dance.

But hold on tight, fashion lovers, as the rollercoaster ride has only just begun!

The Day After My Birthday: Hospitalized for Four Long Months

August 8, the day after Essqulena’s 35th birthday, started off with high expectations. She had rented a suite at a Mississippi Braves game to celebrate with her twin brother, ready to paint the town red. Little did she know that her flirty celebration dress would soon be replaced by a hospital gown.

Weakness consumed her, forcing her sister-in-law to dress her. Her family even borrowed a wheelchair, transforming Essqulena from radiant fashionista to a party-time zombie. Unable to eat or play with her nieces, she bravely made a toast with her brother, her spirits refusing to be dampened.

The next morning, the hospital doors swung open, and she entered a world of uncertainty. Seventeen weeks would pass before she could escape those sterile walls, a temporary fashion blunder amidst her fight for survival. Essqulena recalls lying in the intensive care unit, where she spent a whopping 87 days. One doctor whispered to her husband, “We’re doing all we can, but it doesn’t look good.” Little did that doctor know, Essqulena was a warrior in the battle of fashion versus illness.

Diagnosis: Lupus Strikes, and Intensive Chemo Becomes the Cure

Finally, in early December, doctors unveiled the name behind her torment: lupus. It was time for Essqulena to bring out her fashion armor and embark on the chemo catwalk.

Chemotherapy, the life-saving treatment, came at a high price tag of nearly $100,000. Her husband had to sell their car and then their home to keep up with the mounting medical expenses. With no income stream other than the echo of her past success, they were left without a place to call home. The only option remaining was her mother-in-law’s house, where they sought refuge.

But don’t fret, fashion enthusiasts! Essqulena’s story takes an unexpected twist.

From the Fashion Capitals to the Mississippi Delta: A Battle for Accessible Medical Care

With $320,000 in medical bills and no insurance or income to speak of, Essqulena found herself immersed in a financial crisis. Disability and Medicaid provided some relief, but she was still saddled with a whopping $190,000 in debt. To make ends meet, they bid farewell to the fashionable streets of Jackson and settled in the Mississippi Delta, where her mother had left them a humble abode.

The Delta, a land rich in natural resources like corn, soy, and cotton, could be likened to a hidden gem of fashion potential. But financially, it stood as the poorest region in the poorest state. A staggering 40% of the population lived below the poverty line. And as if the fashion gods had turned their backs, the medical infrastructure had abandoned them too.

Imagine this scene: a friend breaks his leg, his pain etched on his face as his bone is visible. But in a twisted display of negligence, the ambulance refuses to come to his aid. He’s thrown into a friend’s SUV, a makeshift fashion emergency vehicle, and driven 90 minutes to a hospital in Jackson. Fashionably inconvenient, to say the least.

The Runway of Resilience: Essqulena’s Fight to Bring Accessible Medical Care to All

Essqulena may be burdened with medical bills for the rest of her life, but that hasn’t dampened her spirit. She pays a mere $50 a month towards her mountain of debt, a seemingly insignificant sum. Yet, she continues to fight, tapping into her enduring strength and resilience to tackle not only her lupus but also the injustices of denying medical care to an entire region of people.

As the Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable became her stage, Essqulena found solace in advocating for solutions like Medicaid expansion. She envisions a world where women like her can breathe easier, with medical care accessible to all, regardless of zip code or financial status. Her fashionista fantasies extend beyond the runway, intertwining with a passion for justice and equality.

So, dear fashionistas, let Essqulena’s journey be a reminder of the indomitable spirit that lies within us all. Dress up in your favorite outfit, strut down the streets like it’s your own fashion week, and remember that there is power in both style and compassion.

Now, my fashion-forward friends, what’s your latest fashion obsession? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s keep the conversation stylishly alive!