"I wrote a quote on my arm everyday. It goes, 'She believed she could and so she did.' I live by that." - Loryn Studer
Loryn Studer is a 17-year-old high school student from Portland, Oregon. While everything looks normal on the outside, Loryn has been fighting major battles on the inside.
After experiencing severe pain and multiple trips to the ER, she was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Her happiness to finally have a diagnosis quickly turned to frustration and sadness when the pain didn't stop. She was referred to Mayo Clinic and diagnosed with Autonomic Dysfuntion, which required her to begin treatment and drop out of school. Determined to restore her health and get life back to normal, Loryn kept fighting.
She is now not only back in school but kicking SERIOUS butt. She has a 3.4 GPA, has lettered in two sports, named Homecoming Princess and raised $500 for her friend who had cancer. Go Loryn! You are the definition of TOUGH :)
Every Ella: Tell us a little about yourself.
Loryn Studer: My name is Loryn Soliel Studer. I am a 17-year-old from Portland, Oregon. I am a twin to my best friend, Jillian Studer. I grew up playing every sport possible, making art and playing piano. With an older brother as well, I also grew up sword fighting, playing Legos and airsofting. I've always been an outdoors kid. I like exploring and getting close to nature. Leadership has always been a passion of mine, as well as helping others.
You started getting sick in February 2014 and going to the ER 5 days a week. What were your symptoms?
In February of 2014, I started having throat closure and couldn't breathe. My body broke out in hives and I had intense chest pain. Night after night this happened. Each time I went to the ER, doctors would give me an IV and send me home after I could breathe again and the hives went away. Then it would come back. It got to the point where the doctors couldn't even recognize me. That's when they began x-rays and blood work.
Were doctors stumped at what the problem was?
The doctors were completely stumped on what was going on and how to help. They couldn't find a reason for my pain or a cure of any kind.
You also started missing school. Was that frustrating?
I began missing more and more school and was only making it to about 50% of my classes, if I was lucky. It was so hard to go from being a 4.0 student to a kid with almost all B's and C's. Kids started rumors on how I was dying. It was tough because I really didn't know what was happening.
Finally in June, you were diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Did you have any idea what that was?
When I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, I had no idea what it was. Honestly, I couldn't pronounce it [Laughs].
Can you tell us more about the illness?
Ulcerative Colitis is a digestive disorder, primarily in your colon. Sometimes certain foods or stress can trigger ulcers to grow in your colon and make it painful to pass through and process. It can cause internal bleeding and intense pain. By managing a diet with foods that won't trigger me into a flare up and taking my medications, I can manage it and have no pain (:
Were you happy to finally receive a diagnosis?
To put a name on what I was suffering from was calming, especially to know that doctors knew what I had and could treat it.
Unfortunately, the pain didn't stop though. How did that feel? Were you depressed?
When the pain didn't stop, I was scared that there was something really wrong with me and not even the doctors could make it stop. I was afraid it would never end. At this point, my depression began to drag me down. I felt alone and trapped.
In December, you were referred to Mayo Clinic and in January 2015, diagnosed with Autonomic Dysfuntion. What is that exactly?
My second diagnosis was autonomic dysfunction. For my case, it makes my entire nervous system malfunction and light up in intense pain. My body shouldn't be in pain, but it is. You can't see or feel anything by just looking at me, because it was all internal. On the outside, I looked like a perfectly normal kid. On the inside, I would have pain episodes that would leave me motionless and sometimes unconscious.
In March, you dropped out of school and began treatment. Were you sad to leave school?
When I dropped out of school, I was scared about getting support when I was away. Even when I was in school, I struggled with it and I was so scared of feeling even more alone.
Did you respond to the treatments?
The treatment worked almost within the first day. To be able to run and not feel pain nearly brought me to tears. To say the treatment helped me is an understatement. It saved me.
When were you able to return to school?
I returned to school in April. When I returned, I went back as a full time student.
Have you missed any days since?
I have not missed a single day.
You're kicking butt in school too! Tell us what you've been up to.
In business club, my project went international and won 7th place in the world. My GPA is back to being a 3.4. I have lettered in 2 sports and named Homecoming Princess. I continue to push myself and take all honor classes but one. I workout daily and enjoy playing music on the piano, playing guitar and making art. I raised $500 for my friend who had cancer. Most of all, I enjoy being with my friends and family.
What did you learn going through your illness?
I learned patience and how to support someone. Throughout my journey, I lost a lot of friends but I made a lot of good ones too. Through my struggles, I have gained better friendships and a healthier lifestyle. Just an overall better me.
What made you keep fighting and not give up?
I kept fighting to get myself normal again, so I wouldn't be treated like a sick kid. I wrote a quote on my arm everyday, so when I was struggling, I looked down at it. It goes, "She believed she could and so she did." I live by that.
Do you ever worry the pain will come back?
I do have pain episodes still, but they don't bother me very much. I know I have been through the worst and this just reminds me of what I have overcome.
What are your future goals?
To use the wisdom I have gained through my struggles to help others. I want to be a physical therapist and work with kids like me. I also want to keep up with my graphic design and art skills.
Name one woman who has inspired you.
Ronda Rousey. She has been through so much and still continues to fight on. She encourages girls to be strong and shows that being strong is beautiful. She is beautiful in every way and stays true to herself.
What advice would you give girls today?
There is nothing you cannot get through. Being tough doesn't make you manly. It makes you beautiful and in dependent. Most of all, always stand up for yourself. It's so much better to have a small group of friends who stand with you than a bunch of friends who won't. Believe you can and you will.