John River Reveals Battle with Debilitating Illness, Pleads for Public's Help

John River Reveals Battle with Debilitating Illness, Pleads for Public's Help
Photo: Britney Townsend
Mississauga rapper John River has taken to Twitter to reveal his battle with a debilitating yet undiagnosed illness, and he is calling on the public to help him find necessary medical treatment.

Last Thursday (January 18), the 23-year-old rapper born Matthew Derrick-Huie took to social media to tell the story of how chest pains, breathing trouble, light sensitivity, temporary blindness and depressive episodes led to multiple visits to emergency rooms and inconclusive diagnoses.

"On December 9th, 2017 I walked into a local Hospital in Mississauga with chest pain I had been experiencing for around a year," River began. "It had gotten worse in the month of November and after passing out on the 9th of December my Mom called an ambulance."

He continued, "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."

After doctors sent him home following X-rays, River returned the next day with more chest pain. Medication failed to alleviate his breathing problems, though a doctor gave him clearance to head home.

A further visit for increased shortness of breath and impaired vision led to doctors sending River to psychiatric ward, where a crisis worker tells a doctor he's suffering from an anxiety disorder.

"At this point, I don't even know what the fuck is going on," River recalled. "I know there's something wrong with my chest, I know there's something wrong with my eyes, but I'm starting to get the feeling that maybe they think I'm making this up or want attention?"

As his symptoms worsened over the next few weeks, River and his family found a doctor that agreed to test him for a cerebrospinal fluid leak through inserting a needle near the base of his spinal cord. Shortly after the test was conducted, he developed an intense sensitivity to light.

"The moment we leave my apartment I start screaming — the lights on the wall are huge — they look like suns. I have no idea what's going on. By the time we get to the hospital, the pressure in my head feels like it's going to explode, and I pass out," he tweeted. "I've fallen through the cracks of our health care system. My family and friends have done everything they can, but they can't do any more."

Taking control of the Twitter account on January 19, River's father discouraged cash donations or GoFundMe campaigns in favour of guidance towards a doctor who can deliver a proper diagnosis.

Later that day, an update revealed River had tested negative for Lyme disease, meningitis and heart disease, with a CT scan showing his brain to be normal. Blood tests and an MRI of his spine also came back normal.

In another tweet, River said he doesn't feel it's a single illness, writing, "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."

Read through the rapper's tweets below. You can reach his family at letssavejohn@gmail.com.