My wife Leslie has always been an active person. Aside from being a wife and mother; she worked as a veterinarian, taught cycling classes at the rec center, and helped out in the church nursery. We enjoyed traveling with our son Davis and found ourselves in Mexico, Costa Rica, Kiawah Island , and Disney World. Davis waited with much anticipation as we welcomed a little brother to the family on St. Patrick’s Day of 2011. Leslie however never seemed to recover completely. She continued to have nausea, fatigue, weakness, restless legs, severe stomach cramps, bruising, and chronic anemia. Multiple doctors attributed her symptoms to recent childbirth and nursing without completely exploring other causes.
Leslie’s condition worsened. In August of 2011 she was hospitalized with chronic kidney failure. A kidney biopsy found a protein called amyloid in her kidneys. Further tests revealed that her nervous system and liver were involved. The amyloid was also binding to factor 10 in her blood stream causing multiple bleeding issues. It was necessary that she start dialysis due to her kidney involvement. She also began a long regiment of chemotherapy which proved unsuccessful. In March of 2012 she underwent a stem cell transplant at Vanderbilt hospital. The high dose chemo used for stem cell induction severely damaged her liver. What was supposed to be a month long procedure quickly turned into two. And, on at least 2 occasions she was close to dying. The doctors were not very encouraging.
Less than a year out from stem cell, Leslie began having severe back pain. At the point of being practically immobile it was discovered that she had 3 fractured vertebrae in her back. One had healed incorrectly and was pressing into her spinal cord. Surgery seemed to go ok but recovery was tough. A week out from surgery toxic levels of ammonia built up in her bloodstream resulting in another downward spiral. On top of that, the first back surgery was not completely successful resulting in a second procedure. Due to her disease and treatment protocols, Leslie’s bones had become very fragile. She has since suffered stress fractures in both feet, one knee, and 2 more vertebrae.
We found out in February of 2013 that Leslie’s disease is in remission. We praise God for His faithfulness in this matter. Then in May of 2013, Leslie was rushed to the hospital for GI bleeding of unknown origin. Our prayer is for continued healing and strength as she recovers.
With her disease in remission, the transplant team at Vanderbilt approved Leslie for a kidney transplant. Her brother Stephen qualified as a donor. On October 1, 2013 Leslie received a kidney from her brother and praise be to God, the dialysis machine left our house on October 25.
Leslie still has some health issues to work through and will need to be monitored on a consistent basis, but things are looking better.
Amyloidosis takes a physical, emotional, and financial toll on patients and family members. We have truly been blessed by our family, church families, neighbors, and friends who have offered their unwavering support. God has made sure we have just what we need to get through this. We realize that other families affected by this disease may not be as fortunate to have such a support system. In that respect, we want to help others for whom amyloidosis has become their “present trouble.” Follow Leslie’s journey on caring bridge.org