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Last week, I posted about my sister Brandi being in the hospital. I debated on whether or not to share her condition on this public blog of mine, but after asking her permission, she said she would love for me to write about her disease to bring awareness to it. She also said she loves when I write about her on my blog, because blogging is something I love and I must love her to include her in something I love 🙂
Now before I talk about what brought her to the hospital this time, let me flash back a few years ago. 18 year old Brandi was walking up the steps at the college she attended when suddenly her legs gave out from under her. As hard as she tried, she couldn’t walk. A classmate had to carry her to class. By the time class let out, she was able to somewhat shuffle her way to her car. She stopped for lunch at Chick-fil-A and went to the restroom… and noticed she was peeing blood. She called my mom, who thought it was a kidney infection, but they still couldn’t figure out what caused her legs to give out.
They rushed her to the ER, where the doctor originally thought she was making up the whole thing about not being able to walk. They admitted her, unsure of what was causing her condition. They ran some tests on her blood and urine and discovered her CPK level (an enzyme in the muscles) was 310,000– a normal person’s range is less than 500. In fact, her CPK level was so high, they had to dilute her sample for the machine to even read it. The doctors determined that her muscle cells were breaking down and sending the toxins into her bloodstream. She was in danger of kidney failure from the amount of CPK in her bloodstream; the doctors were sure she’d have some degree of kidney failure. The miracle is that not a single degree of kidney failure was detected– none. The doctors even told her it was a miracle.
She stayed in the hospital for 6 days. Doctors performed a biopsy on a piece of thigh muscle and determined that she has McArdle’s Disease. It means that a person’s muscles can’t properly metabolize energy. A good analogy for it is when you work out too much and you build up lactic acids in your muscles, causing pain. Well, for a person with McArdle’s, the littlest physical activities, like walking up stairs, can trigger an attack.
This time, Brandi’s attack was triggered by nothing more than rolling over in bed. Her CPK levels were 21,000. Her left leg was paralyzed for 6 hours. She stayed in the hospital for 4 days, connected to an IV bag of fluids that flushed out the toxins.
There is no known cure for McArdle’s Disease. Most people aren’t diagnosed with it until they are in their 30s or 40s. Brandi was the youngest patient on the neurology floor– which is primarily elderly folks. I hate this for Brandi. I hate that she can’t go on a simple stroll around the block. I hate that simply lifting groceries can give her an attack. I hate the stares she gets when she takes an elevator up one floor. I hate that she can legally park in the handicapped spot, but refuses to because of the dirty looks people would give her because they don’t know about her invisible disease.
But with all of her limitations, she does her best to not let her disease rule her life. She tries to ignore the dirty looks people give her when they see her stopping to catch her breath. She keeps a positive attitude even on the fourth straight day of being in the hospital. Sometimes, she even cracks jokes about her condition.
I could write an entire novel about how both of my sisters inspire me, but I’ll just leave it at this. Whenever I need some inspiration, I just think about how much Brandi has overcome.