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This fundraiser ended on 08/22/12

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I am raising money for my medical treatments and my living expenses.

I grew up with the best mother and father a child could have asked for. I was fortunate to be able to travel all over the USA and world with them, as my father was a highly decorated Air Force pilot and officer. I was delighted to live in foreign countries, experiencing Japan and Western Europe before I finished high school.
I started college as a pre-med major the month I turned 17, with plans to become a neuroscientist. However, I married my high school sweetheart during college and we both graduated from Clemson University together in 1978 - Jerry, with a degree in Architecture and me, magna cum laude with a degree in Nursing.
As a registered nurse, I worked as a charge nurse on a 45-bed medical-surgical floor, then in Neonatal Intensive Care, then finally in Labor & Delivery. I taught natural childbirth classes and relaxation classes for six years and I also was an aerobics instructor.
In 1983, I developed a severe, rare infection, known as St. Louis Viral Encephalitis. Just like West Nile Virus, it is transmitted through a mosquito bite. Because of the infection, I began to have seizures, hypoglycemia, low blood pressure, and multiple infections, due to my white blood cell count dropping severely below normal and never returning to normal. In 1983, the doctors were stumped by all that was taking place. It wasn’t until after 2000 that correct diagnoses and treatments were finally given.
I had to leave the medical field in 1985 because of my compromised immune system (the low WBC counts were diagnosed as cyclic neutropenia at that time). I began college for my 2nd time majoring in Accounting and Marketing and finishing my degree at the U. of Alabama Birmingham in 1991 cum laude. I had worked full time in accounting positions during school although I was very sick from multiple infections. I started the MBA program and a federal government job in 1991 but became so ill from infections and a heart arrhythmyia condition that I had to leave the federal job TWO weeks before I would have been vested. A simple surgery in 1993 resulted in a horrific surgical infection and the muscular weakness I had been experiencing became more pronounced. I had to stop working never in my dreams thinking I’d be on Social Security Disability for 16 years. I lost both of my parents to cancer nine months apart in 1995. I do not have siblings and my parents had been my greatest friends and supporters through this ordeal. I suppose I should tell you that because of the stress of the illnesses, my 14 year marriage ended in a heartbreaking divorce in 1989.
But with persistence and resilience, after ten years of physical and mental suffering, the correct diagnoses of two primary immunodeficiency diseases and Addison’s Disease were confirmed through blood tests. If you saw the John Travolta movie about the boy in the plastic bubble then you know about my primary immune diseases. I also have several autoimmune diseases such as Addison’s Disease and Sjogren’s Syndrome. The treatment for the PIDD (primary immune diseases) is intravenous gammaglobulin. I was paying $2,000 a month for this treatment alone. My total medical payments ( what I actually wrote checks for) were $60,000 in 2000. I was forced to sell my home to use the large equity I had to pay for living expenses and medical bills as my Social Security Disability was only $480 a month. I moved into Assisted Living for three years, some months only having $7.00 to live on a month and never more than $36.00 per month. Live had really changed!
Again, I am resilient and persistent if nothing else! By 2007, my physical strenghth was returning. I could finally move back into my own apartment. It slowly dawned on me I could do more than just my daily tasks. I picked up an Intermediate Algebra book and worked my way completely through it doing the homework problems (I love math!). I began to dream of bigger and better achievements as I acquired better health. Would I really be able to return to where I had left off in 1992?
January 2009, I started the MBA program at UNC Charlotte. I was beyond thrilled to be back in school doing something with my life. The pictures with this bio were taken in August, 2009 basically at the beginning of the end. Little did I know that in the next 4 months I would have three cases of bronchitis and three sinus infections, as well as stomach infections. I had to drop 2 classes that semester, but was able to finish one. I went to classes in the spring and was so sick I only completed two. I still register every semester, but I haven’t been able to go since Fall of 2010. My immune system has not been keeping up and I keep getting infections. From February through April of this year, I had pneumonia twice, sinusitis twice and several stomach infections. I was put on reverse isolation precautions meaning I have to stay at home. No longer did I go to the cancer center for my treatments every 3 weeks, but the RN came to my house to give them to me.
Call me crazy, but I still have hopes of returning to the MBA program in the fall for one class at least.
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