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My Vitiligo Story | From Sue Tovar-Riezgo’s Diary

“I’ve been recently diagnosed with vitiligo which led to the discovery of various underlining health issues I would have never discovered, if it wasn’t for the chronic skin disorder,” Sue Tovar-Riezgo, a full-time mother from East Hills, New York, shares her vitiligo story.

Sue Tovar-Riezgo

At first, my vitiligo spots caused me such distress. The unknown and self-doubt practically blew my mind, realizing how at age of 46 my appearance has such a great chance of altering through the days. The diagnosis (vitiligo, July 2018) took my breath away and I was full of emotions. I didn’t know much of this autoimmune disorder and went full force trying to learn all I could but then in September I learned about my iron deficiency anemia and my focus shifted because of my very low levels.

I began seeing a Hemotoligist/Internist weekly for IV infusions and dealing with the side effects of these infusions. At this same time, she directed me to a Gastroenterologist to investigate the root cause of my low iron levels. Those diagnostics lead me to the discovery of my Asymptomatic Hiatal Hernia & the H Pylori Stomach Bacteria in mid-October & early November respectively.

In mid-December, after completing treatment I was retested and confirmed a successful eradication of the H pylori, but as a result of the treatment, I was left with the task of rejuvenating my stomach lining and to tackle with my elevated liver enzymes (3x of the normal range).

I’m a petite 46-year-old woman who has been healthy all her life until mid-year of 2018! My diet was never a crazy healthy or crazy unhealthy. After my initial diagnosis of vitiligo, my first sense of taking control was learning about DIET and any food triggers for vitiligo among trying to learn all there was to learn. In doing that I eliminated many of the so-called “triggers” immediately back in July and started focusing on my diet. Today I have learned much about food and its benefits and harms, something I know I took for granted prior to all of this. It has given me a sense of control and self-assurance that with all my health issues I can still regain control of my body.

Since my diagnosis, I have been applying sunscreen every day and continue eating healthy to improve my immune system. Each day, I work harder to reverse the damage the H. pylori antibiotics caused to the body and subsequently to my liver.

I am very fair skin but my spots are visible and have progressed in size since July. My spots (milky white in color) are mainly on my hands, chest bone, arm, and chin. Since I am fair skinned, people often tell me that they won’t be that noticeable but little do they realize the emotional battle I struggle with daily knowing my appearance is changing.

Still, I see these spots as my lucky spots! Weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have ever discovered all of my asymptomatic underlying health issues. Now 6 months from my Vitiligo diagnosis, it seems I’m reaching a time where I can focus back and continue learning to live and thrive with vitiligo.

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