The Pell City High School student lives in a world of constant pain.
From the time he wakes up in the morning until he falls asleep at night, Tyler is in pain.
Sometimes the pain is manageable, other times it’s excruciating.
“It’s like someone is sticking a knife in your stomach and twisting it,” Tyler said.
He vomits, the pain eases, and the cycle of pain continues.
Tyler was diagnosed with Eosinophilia four years ago when he was in the eighth-grade.
It was a disease, he said, that spread from his esophagus to his stomach.
“Food started getting stuck inside my throat,” he said.
Tyler could breathe, even though the food remained in his throat. The only way to dislodge the food was a trip to the bathroom.
“I had to throw up the food,” Tyler said.
His condition not only puzzled the people around him, but the doctors who examined him.
“I was diagnosed with everything under the sun,” Tyler said matter of factly.
Finally, a biopsy revealed his true disease and he and his family were faced with a decision about where they could go for help. His case of Eosinophilia was severe.
One of three Eosinophilia specialists in the country told the youngster it was the worst case he had ever seen. Another Eosinophilia specialist told him it was one of the worst cases he had treated.
Initially, a feeding tube was surgically placed in Tyler’s stomach.
“I couldn’t eat any food because I was throwing up all the time,” he said.
He was too sick to attend school and was homebound for almost three years.
Tyler went through a series of operations during the ordeal.
“I’ve been through 40 operations in four years, which is more than most people have in a lifetime,” he said.
After receiving treatment in Atlanta, Tyler went to Cincinnati, Ohio, to another Eosinophilia specialist. After going through one last operation, an adjustment in medication and a strict diet, Tyler is doing much better.
“There is no cure,” he said of his disease. “You can only manage the disease.”
And he must live with the constant pain.
He said pain medication is not an option and would only exacerbate his condition.
“This is the new norm,” Tyler said. “You just have to deal with it.”
The teenager’s outlook on life has helped him handle the pain that accompanies a disease some people would rightly call a curse.
“It’s not fun being a teenager and going through all this,” Tyler said. “But I’m glad I have to go through this if someone else doesn’t.”
Only one in every 10,000 people is diagnosed with Eosinophilia.
Tyler said instead of throwing up 15-20 times a day, he only visits the bathroom two-five times a day now.
“My food doesn’t digest in my stomach,” he said.
He is on a strict diet of eggs, grapes and apples — that’s it, every day.
“I’m so tired of these foods. They are like water, no taste,” Tyler said. “I miss going to McDonalds. I miss going out to eat with my family.”
His favorite food is steak.
“Sadly, I can’t eat it,” he said.
There are times he sneaks a bite of something he shouldn’t have, but he pays for it later.
“It just comes back up,” Tyler said.
Through his faith, hope and courage, Tyler is organizing a 5K Fun Run to create awareness and to raise research money for a disease he must live with for the rest of his life.
“I want to help people the way other people have helped me, which is why I’m organizing this run,” Tyler said.
After he graduates from Pell City High School, he plans to attend college.
Tyler, who has been put under anesthesia 40 times for surgical operations, wants to become an anesthesiologist.
He said his doctor told him he could live a long life with the disease, and he plans to live his life to the fullest.
“I thank God for every day he’s given me, and I make the best of it,” he said.