Devri Velazquez

When newly natural NaturallyCurly employee Devri Velazquez began noticing changes in her appearances, she adjusted her beauty routine in search of answers. Follow Devri in her exclusive series for NaturallyCurly, "Devri's Hair & Health Journey," as she deals with an extremely rare autoimmune disease, from her symptoms and diagnosis to treatment and the way this has affected her looks and self esteem.
I started wearing makeup for the first time to conceal the yellowness in my complexion. After only a few weeks, my impatience got the best of me and I started trying luxury brands. Even the finest of tea tree oils or the purest of seaweed extracts delivered minimal results. My confidence—and now, money—were diminishing as quickly as the natural luster of my skin. I remember waking up one day drenched in sweat for the first time. It was like somebody had thrown a bucket of water over my entire body. I kept the air conditioning pretty cold in my apartment, and I didn’t feel hot at all, so I was confused as to why my body was reacting in that way. I also noticed my heart beating incredibly fast, even though my body was at rest. My adrenaline pumped like I had just crossed the finish line in a marathon. I opened my eyes only to see what looked like squiggly lines floating on the ceiling above me. The brightness in my vision flickered, as if somebody was switching the lights on and off. My head throbbed while my arms tingled and my legs stung. The sensation felt like a million ants crawling up my arms and legs without me having the ability to brush them off. I remained calm to the best of my ability and got up out of bed slowly. For the first time in my whole life, getting dressed felt close to impossible.

MORE: Natural Hair Envy Brings Devri to Big Chop

Devri Velazquez

The rest of my day I ignored the inconvenient changes happening throughout my body and continued with my normal routine. Later that night I had a friend over for dinner. Out of nowhere I felt like I was suffocating. I inhaled and exhaled faster and faster and couldn’t catch my breath. My chest felt so heavy and my fingers curled up while my lips turned blue. In a panic, my friend rushed me to the ER.

The doctors thought I might have had asthma, so they administered a nebulizer treatment for about twenty minutes till I regained the color in my lips and feeling in my fingertips. When they conducted an X-ray of my chest, there were no signs of pneumonia or inflammation. I rested for a few hours, and once I was able to breathe normally, I was sent home.

MORE: Devri's Hair & Health Journey Begins

When I got home I traded in my porcupine boar brushes for one with softer bristles, lessened the number of times that I washed my hair per week, and even created a crash diet for myself with optimism in appearing leaner and fit before the reunion. My physical energy did not allow me to do any type of cardio excercise, so I relied solely on my eating habits to whip me back into shape.

I have always considered myself a very independent person, but this was a moment that I knew I needed to finally suck up my pride and reach out to my mother (who is a nurse) for reassurance that everything was going to be ok. She calmed me down over the phone, caressing my confidence with her words of encouragement. I asked her to bring her medical tools to take a look at me once she got into town on the day of the reunion.

With my exhaustive attempts to conceal my deteriorating looks and health, I imagined myself being a lost girl stuck in a maze in search of the Devri I knew my whole life prior to these months. Mentally, I was running out of options. I continued to study at the local university and work part time but it wasn’t long before my life would take a drastic turn and force me out of both.

To read the rest of the articles in Devri's series, click here.