CREATED May. 21, 2013
NAPLES, Fla.- We first told the story of Jessica Stevens and her incurable and extremely painful neurological disorder last year.
Jessica went from laying on her death bed to sitting in a college classroom in just a few short years and she credits a risky medical procedure for getting her to this point.
When Jessica Stevens reflect and looks back at pictures of her younger years, she said the images are unrecognizable.
"I'm not the same person, I just feel like God has truly blessed me with this recovery with this new life." Jessica Stevens said.
What started as a tick bite when she was 16 years old, put Jessica and her family through years worth of agonizing pain, suffering and a fight for her life. Jessica was diagnosed with a rare, incurable, neurological disorder called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, or RSD.
" When I was in the hospital I lived not even day by day it was more like minute by minute. If I could make it past the next 5 minutes that was an accomplishment the pain was horrendous it was like literally being burned alive." Stevens said.
An experimental procedure not approved in the United States gave Jessica one last glimpse of hope. Doctors in Mexico put her into a coma using extreme doses of an anesthetic drug called Ketamine. She said that coma saved her life.
"To be going from being told you have three weeks to live, you're going to die, and then have this experimental treatment give me this new life I'm loving so much, I just want others to have that chance." Stevens said.
She wants to give them that chance, with her own knowledge. She's now enrolled at Hodges University where she's being welcomed with open arms.
"It is just amazing to be able to help someone like Jessica she's such a charismatic and special young lady so we're very fortunate and glad to be able to help her." Hodges University's Admissions Director Christy Saunders said.
Jessica's been given a full scholarship and she wants to pay it forward by studying to become a physician's assistant.
"To be in a classroom instead of a hospital room it's almost surreal I have to pinch myself sometimes." Stevens said.
Jessica now sees a future in what was once a world of darkness.
"My real aspiration would be to be back down in Mexico working alongside Dr. Cantu who saved my life and helping him research and treat others with this devastating disorder." Stevens said.
Jessica still goes through at least two hours of water therapy a day and travels the country to spread awareness about RSD. She's also pushing for the coma procedure that helped her, to be approved in the U.S.