Monday, July 2, 2012

My Story

contributed by Kim Wright

It was 2005. I had flu-like symptoms, was very lethargic, feeling sick. I also had a terrible headache. No matter what I did, I just couldn't get rid of the headache. After five days of laying in bed in agony, my mum said enough was enough, and called for my GP. 

The doctor came to my home and tested my urine for possible pregnancy, but that was negative. My mum is an insulin-dependent diabetic, so the doctor also tested my blood sugar levels. This revealed I was slightly hypoglycemic but that was because I hadn't been eating for several days. After the tests, my doctor rang for an ambulance, as I was on the verge of losing consciousness. 

At the hospital, I had more blood tests, and was placed in quarantine: Originally they suspected meningitis. They put me on 100 mg of prednisone folic acid, as well as a vitamin tablet. That's when I met my haematologist, Dr. Watson. He came out of semi retirement because I was a cause for concern. 

Four days later, I was moved onto the hospital's blood ward, where I was told I had a condition called autoimmune haemalytic anemia. My haemoglobin had dropped to 2, which is what caused the headaches. I was given five units of blood. 

I remember this as a very distressful time. I broke my ankle three weeks prior, so I was still recuperating from that when I was in the hospital. To this day, I suspect the trauma of breaking a limb triggered my Evans Syndrome. I was given morphine for pain, and my condition was downgraded, but when I tried to go to the bathroom by myself I collapsed. There was not enough blood to circulate through my body. The second time it happened, my heart had to be restarted. 

After three units of blood, I started to feel a lot better, and was sent home after 9 days on 80 mg of prednisone. When I returned to Dr. Watson for my follow-up appointment, he told me that I had Evans Syndrome. 

In June of 2006, my platelet count dropped dramatically. I bruised at the slightest touch, and my menstrual period was unusually heavy. Dr. Watson put me on a treatment called rituximab. Thankfully, I responded.

In November of that same year, I miraculously fell pregnant. The baby was due in August of the following year. However, not long into the pregnancy, I was told by a doctor that I should consider terminating my pregnancy: The effects of rituximab on the unborn were unknown, and my child could end up with disabilities. 

I didn't even have to consider the possibilities: I would continue the pregnancy and give my child a chance. I gave birth to a perfect baby boy weighing 6 pounds 9 ounces, 6 days overdue, by c-section. We will celebrate his fifth birthday this year. 

I have been on and off steroids now for 7 years. I have been given somewhere around 40 blood transfusions. Personally, I have found Azathioprine to be the best treatment for me. Currently, I'm on 200 mg daily, with no side effects. 

I do suffer in other ways: I have irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and I battle with my weight because of the steroids. Sometimes I get very tired, but I'm still up-beat, and I don't let this get to me. 

The main thing is that I'm alive. I don't worry about relapse, and I pray for treatment success…I don't think I would be human if I didn't. I fight…and I win. 

In between all of these years, I contracted Legionnaires Disease. I was in intensive care, and was left with weakness in my left lung. I am now prone to chest infections, which lead to pneumonia. I always have back up antibiotics at home, as infections seem to be a main cause of allowing my platelets to drop. I've learned the signs, and I'm quick to react.

I owe Dr. Watson a great deal. He is not just my consultant: He and the members of his team are my friends. I can turn to them any time. 

I am now 29 years old. I hope my story helps. Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2012 by Evans Syndrome Community Network. All rights reserved.

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