In September of 2003 I was 8 months pregnant with our first child and 2 hours away from home on a business trip. My husband called to say he was having cramping in his legs and could not walk. He had put some all natural joint relief cream on his legs our friend Cristina gave us and now had tiny purple spots on them which he thought was an allergic reaction. He was on his way to the Doctor and would call me after.
The next call that came would set us on a roller coaster that we will never get off of. His doctor said he had no idea what that was and that he was admitting Chris into the hospital for testing. Knowing that heart disease ran in his family this was our immediate fear. They ran some tests as I headed back to Atlanta to be with him. That evening we saw 5 different doctors, including an infectious disease specialist. Let me tell you when you have 5 different doctors looking at you with a quizzical look and an INFECTIOUS disease guy come in you are completely FREAKED! We called a few friends to ask for prayers and one of them was Jenn, a pediatric nurse. We explained to her the symptoms and she said, “Oh that sounds like HSP, but it’s very rare in adults” little did we know that statement would be the common thread of our new venture.
Sure enough is was Henoch–Schönlein purpura or HSP. Chris contracted it from a bad case of a common ailment, strep throat. He was placed on extremely high doses of steroids which made him bloat and pretty much obliterated his immune system making him susceptible to any virus or illness around.
On Thanksgiving Day 2003 2 months later our first son was born. The delivery was as by the book as it could get and was beautiful. Christopher Garrett Wilson 6lbs.7oz.
Over the next year Chris was put into the hospital 5 times. Each time it was due to dehydration from contracting some kind of virus because his immune system was so low or the HSP was flaring up. Every time my wonderful parents would drive 45 minutes 2 ways to pick up the baby and the dog or to take Chris to the hospital while I got the baby and dog settled at their house. We would never have survived this without them. After a 1 1/2 years of this roller coaster we decided to go to Emory for a second opinion. We met Dr. James Tumlin who told us that it was a distinct possibility that Chris’ Kidneys were being affected and he wanted a kidney biopsy. Sure enough we were told that Chris was in the 1% of HSP sufferers who developed a kidney disease called IGA. He has already lost 20% of his kidney function so chemo therapy was recommended.
For the next 6 months once a month on Friday Garrett and I would pack up Daddy and drop him at Emory. I would always try to put new funny pj’s in his suitcase, his favorite chocolates and movies to watch while he was there. We would then come home and make homemade pizza together and watch a movie. The next day we would pick up Daddy and bring him home where he would chill on the sofa from the chemo. Usually by Monday he was up to working 1/2 a day and by Tuesday he was more normal. The chemo he took was about 20% of what a cancer patient endures. The chemo was used to stop the spread of the IGA. My husband is self employed and through all of this never told any of his clients what he was going through. He runs his business out of our home so when he needed a nap he could go take one. After the Chemo we were good for 2 years. He was still on steroids and could get sick easily but the dosage was lower and it was not as often.
We had to wait after the chemo for 2 years to have another child and on August 19, 2008 Matthew James Wilson was born via c-section at 9lbs 14oz.
A week or two before the surgery our church held a special Mass for the two families. Families and teachers from Garrett’s school came, friends and family all gathered to pray and celebrate this special event. My lovely friend, Angelle, sang Ave Maria which made us all cry. On November 12, 2010 family and friends all gathered in the surgical waiting room at Emory University Hospital. Chris’ business is promotional merchandise for companies and individuals so he had t-shirts made for he and Cristina.
They say remove from here and place here. As scary as this was you could feel the presence of the lord in that room. Everyone was a peace and even joking and laughing. The new joke is that now Chris is Cuban/Irish. The surgery went without a hitch. My first breakdown was after seeing my husband in recovery. A mixture of relief and fear at seeing him in such a fragile state. When we got them to the hospital rooms I went to check on Cristina, I walked in her room and her first questions was, “How is Chris?” I said, “He’s turning pink!” and we both hugged and cried in relief. I was amazed in the next 2 weeks at how different I felt. A wise friend told me, “You don’t realize how much stress you are under, you will see it when this is over.” She was right it was amazing the sense of relief when the Dr. called us in the waiting room to say it was working fine.
We are now 2 years later, Cristina is fine and Chris is doing great. In our common theme of being in the very small percentage that this can happen to, last Thanksgiving we were told the kidney disease was attacking his new kidney. The good thing is that they caught it early enough at and at his yearly biopsy last month they told him it was under control and was receding and we are doing great. I have come to realize even though the surgery is over we will always be on this roller coaster and you never know what the next hill will bring. Chris was able to start his business back in 2011 and had to start from scratch. It has not been easy for him but he has proven to be the strong wonderful husband I married 12 years ago. In this economy he has fighting the uphill battle and slowly but surely winning the race. I am so proud of him. It has tested the boundaries of our marriage and our friendship and has not been easy but through love, respect, and commitment we are surviving.
I don’t know how you ever thank anyone for such a gift, you really can’t. Cristina is so humble about the whole thing that she never expected to be. When I told her last year that the kidney disease was attacking the new kidney and Chris was afraid to tell her she said to me, “I don’t know why? That kidney is his, it was not longer mine a long time ago!” She is an amazing woman and I can’t wait share with you her side of the story tomorrow. It is on audio so you will hear it strait from her.
The best thing of this hard journey is that we really have received more blessings out of it than hardships. We have been able to see the beauty of the human spirit. The love of sacrifice and giving. The support of family and friends and the kindness of strangers.
If you are able I hope you will consider the opportunity to be a live donor. You can find out more information on live donation at the National Kidney Foundation.
If you would like to hear his donors story click through here
© YOUR COPYRIGHT YEAR(S) Miss Information. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.