John River Shares Harrowing Battle With Undiagnosed Illness, Asks Public for Help to Find Doctor
Mississauga, Canada-based rapper John River has spent the better part of the last few years becoming one of the most-talked about artists in the Canadian rap scene. Unfortunately, he's had to put the music aside to battle an undiagnosed illness.
On Thursday night (Jan. 19), the rapper, born name Matthew Derrick-Huie, used his Twitter account to reveal to the world the extent of health issues. He first publicly alluded to his illness the day after Christmas last year in a tweet.
"Good Evening," reads the first tweet. "My name is Matthew Derrick-Huie, I'm 23 years old my birthday is September 29th 1994 and I live in Mississauga, ON Can. I'm speaking my Mom will be typing these messages. I'm sick and I need immediate help. The following thread is my story."
In the numerous tweets that follow, River delivers a harrowing account of life with mysterious chest pains, breathing problems, temporary blindness, depressive episodes and an unending stream diagnostic dead ends. The first major part of River's story began on Dec. 9, 2017, when he checked himself into a Mississauga hospital.
"On December 9th, 2017 I walked into a local Hospital in Mississauga with chest pain I had been experiencing for around a year," River begins. "It had gotten worse in the month of November and after passing out on the 9th of December my Mom called an ambulance."
He continues, "By time the paramedics arrived I was breathing normally again, just a little out of breath and fully conscious. I had been having these bouts for around a year prior, and I knew they came & went pretty quickly. They took me to the hospital and ran some tests."
For the next part of the process, River explained to doctors the sorts of aches and pains he'd been dealing with. He did, but unfortunately, he was on the verge of receiving what would be a long series of inconclusive answers.
"They asked me to describe my pain and I told them "it felt like I had a broken rib or a little fracture" in my chest," River recounts. "They ran some tests on my heart and did an X-Ray. They told me everything looked fine and I was probably just stressed. Then they sent me home."
The next day, however, River returned to the hospital after dealing with more chest pains. The pain struck River in his "upper left breast," and it was that day that a doctor diagnosed him with Pericarditis and gave him some medicine.
"He gave me medication for 3 1/2 days, he said it should help the inflammation and set me up to see a specialist for a follow up," River remembers. "He said if after 3 days, I hadn't seen the specialist yet come back to the hospital to be reassessed (especially if the medication wasn't effective)."
Unfortunately, the medicine didn't alleviate his breathing problems. "After taking the medication I was still having severe trouble breathing with any kind of physical activity and the same chest pain," River recalls. "So as requested I came back into the hospital 72 hours later to get my chest reassessed. A doctor saw me that night said I was fine & sent me home."
The story goes much the same way throughout most of his tweet thread, as River recalls instances when he visited the hospital only to be told nothing was wrong. Toward the end of the thread, he claims that he's fallen through the cracks of the healthcare system, and asks for the help of his followers, and anyone else that can see his tweets.
"They expected me to end up in a psychiatric ward, stay at home feeling sorry for myself in my closet, or commit suicide," River says. "My body and mind are telling me to quit, but nigga that’s just not going to happen. I feel embarrassed, but when you need help, you need help."
"I will be honest with you, any doctor that has seen me will probably tell you I have lost my mind," he continues. "With all due respect, I disagree. They don't know me like you do. If you think you know anybody who can help my family at this time, please send an email to email@example.com."
Taking over his son's Twitter account, River's father discouraged the formation of any GoFundMe campaigns set up for his son. They ask only for guidance to help them find a doctor who can diagnose River properly. In a tweet several hours later, someone using River's account gave an update on his health.
"Hey all, update to help filter help efficiently, a lot of messages we're not getting to in time," wrote the account. "Was negative for Lyme disease, Meningitis, Heart disease & CT scan with dye showed brain looks normal. Multiple blood test all came back normal as well. Along with MRI of spine."
In another tweet, River doesn't believe "it's one illness. I think doctors are looking for an equation but it feels more like a grocery list. I understand mental instability & psychosis are the umbrellas that cover all of my symptoms, but I feel at least 2 separate things are happening with my body."
River, whom XXL profiled for The Break in 2016, burst onto Canada's national scene in 2012, with his debut mixtape, The Calm. With passionate lyrics and a relentlessly earnest J. Cole-esque flow, he earned plenty of admirers. His fan base only grew after the release of his 2015 effort, The Storm.
"I'm going to be the next person hopefully, that can represent the people," River told XXL of his professional goals last year. "I really want to be great and put my city on, but do it the right way. I know the hype around me is growing, I just want to deliver on the potential."
Read through the rapper's harrowing Twitter thread for yourself below. To help out John River, email his family at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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