In an extraordinary revelation, Tessa Hansen-Smith, a young woman in the United States, has bravely shared her battle with Aquagenic Urticaria, a rare condition commonly referred to as a water allergy. Her story sheds light on the challenges she faces daily due to this unusual ailment.
Tessa developed Aquagenic Urticaria at the tender age of eight, and over the years, it has only worsened. What was once a carefree childhood, filled with play, swimming, and hydration, soon turned into a daily struggle against the very essence of life – water.
Bathing or even drinking water triggers severe itching, rashes, and hives on her skin, leaving her with painful welts and even bleeding scalp after a simple shower.
Speaking about her ordeal, Tessa mentioned, “I would get out of the shower with large welts on my skin, and my scalp would be bleeding. So, the first thing we did was, ‘OK, let’s take away your shampoos, conditioners, and whatever soaps you’re using.'” This desperate attempt to find the source of her suffering exemplifies the challenges faced by individuals with rare medical conditions.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of Tessa’s condition is her reaction to drinking water itself. It causes an intense burning sensation in her throat and body. To cope with this, the 25-year-old has resorted to drinking milk as an alternative. She explained that the fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in milk somehow allow water molecules to “sneak past” her immune system, providing her with a source of hydration that doesn’t trigger painful reactions.
Adding a heartbreaking dimension to her story, Tessa’s mother, Karen Hansen-Smith, is a doctor who has encountered numerous unusual illnesses throughout her career. However, witnessing her own daughter’s suffering has been an agonizing experience for her. Tessa’s condition has not only affected her physical well-being but also taken a toll on her quality of life.
In her quest for relief and treatment, Tessa’s family initiated a GoFundMe campaign to cover her recent hospital expenses, which amounted to a significant $8,000 (approximately Rs 6.65 lakh).
Their efforts were met with incredible support from well-wishers and followers, raising $10,000 in just three months. This financial assistance will not only aid in covering medical costs but also support her doctor’s appointments, follow-ups, and physical therapy.
Throughout her journey, Tessa has faced challenges beyond the physical symptoms of her condition. She highlighted that the disbelief of those around her has often been more distressing than the illness itself.
This poignant revelation underscores the importance of empathy and understanding when individuals battle rare and misunderstood medical conditions.
Tessa Hansen-Smith’s story serves as a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity and the importance of raising awareness about rare medical conditions, fostering empathy, and providing support to those who need it the most.