Inspiring Story of a Remarkable Women
Hey Coach Rahz here, with an inspiring story from one of our amazing clients. Jillian has become way more than just a client, she has become a friend, mother, and mentor to my team and I. I believe we all require a Jillian in our lives. She brightens up my cloudy days, and brings laughter and love to the studio every time she walks in. One word comes to mind when I think of Jillian: STRENGTH. Here is her story of Strength, Perseverance and a “Never Give Up” attitude in her own words…
I give you Jillian Ingram…
When Rahz suggested that I have a story worth sharing with other women, I agreed that my recent experiences might resonate with both men and women. I believe all of us meet up with challenges at different times in our lives – often defying prediction and planning. Such was my experience, beginning mid-June 2010.
On a Sunday morning in June, my husband (Paul) woke up to find me passed out on the floor of our bathroom. After waking me up, he guided me back to our bed and called my family physician. I was still with my trusted physician from central New Jersey – so he had to dispense advice from afar. He told Paul to get me to the hospital as quickly as possible. While I have no memory from being on the bathroom floor until eight days later; I am told that I insisted on freshening up before accompanying Paul to the hospital. When we entered the emergency room at Glen Cove Hospital – I summarily waived off offers of wheelchair assistance. Not only did I appear unperturbed, I seemed very upbeat to those around me, despite the fact that I exhibited tremors so pronounced that I was literally “shaking like a leaf.”
I do not remember anything from my eight-day stay in Glen Cove Hospital. I know now that I was in the intensive care unit, with an army of physicians swarming around my bedside trying to get a handle on what was going on for me. They conducted a myriad of tests – determining that I probably had had a drug reaction to a medication prescribed for a tenacious migraine. On Tuesday morning the doctors thought that my condition was improving – but by the end of the day concerns were mounting over my kidney function. By Friday I was in acute kidney failure and was transferred to North Shore University Hospital for dialysis. The physicians at Glen Cove suspected that I had also developed two extremely rare blood disorders: HUS and TTP – disorders affecting the integrity of the red blood cells and platelets respectively.
The probability of a person developing either one of these blood disorders is approximately one in a half a million people – yet tests conducted at North Shore confirmed that I had both. I was given a three percent chance of survival. Treatment for these blood disorders is a blood cleaning process called Plasmapheresis: a lengthy process requiring three and a half to four hours to complete. I experienced many unpleasant side-effects during each treatment – from nausea and severe abdominal cramping to intense body chills. For nine weeks, I received plasmapheresis every day, plus three and a half hours of dialysis every other day. Every second day was excruciatingly brutal; as dialysis is accompanied by its own set of nasty side-effects.
Discharge from North Shore in mid-August was not a “get out of jail free card.” I was transferred to a rehabilitation facility that also provided dialysis. After being bed-ridden for nine weeks I had to learn how to sit upright, stand, and eventually walk again. Greg (Mr. Nutrition) gave me valuable advice on what to look for in a rehabilitation program, as well as sharing a personal recommendation. Every day for two weeks I worked with a physical therapist for two one-hour sessions, and for an additional hour with an occupational therapist. By the time I left rehab I could walk with a walker, climb stairs with a handrail, and dress myself.
Despite early assurances from my first nephrology team, whom I eventually fired, I did not regain my kidney function. Many challenges accompanied my return home. I was still physically very weak and required dialysis three times a week. I was in complete renal failure; so that short of a transplant, I would require dialysis indefinitely. I had to learn the parameters of a renal diet and measure my fluid intake to the ounce (maximum 32 oz/day). My new nephrologist started campaigning for a transplant as soon as I began outpatient dialysis, advising me to “never become complacent with dialysis.” I felt overwhelmed! At the outset, the notion of an organ transplant seemed out-of-reach to me. As the weeks went by, my doctor stressed that transplantation was a necessity, not only for my survival, but also for a certain quality of life. In addition to all of these new issues confronting me – I had other matters that were waiting for my attention since June – not the least of which was the completion of my Master’s thesis in Developmental Psychology.
I contacted my thesis adviser while I was in rehab. She suggested that it would probably be best for me to set aside my thesis and concentrate on my health. Her advice did not sit well with me; as this would mean I would give up the opportunity of completing my degree. I had already satisfied 75% of the academic requirements for my degree – quitting was not an option. So I became reacquainted with my partially-completed thesis – working on it as my physical and mental energies allowed. On June 20, one year plus seven days since my initial hospitalization, my thesis was accepted by the university, and ten days later a Master of Arts degree was conferred upon me.
Eight days after I completed my degree requirements, I received a kidney from my husband. The fact that Paul was a match was nothing short of a miracle – as we are not biologically related and I am a rare blood type. Most people react to my story with the comment “It wasn’t your time.” While this sounds like a sage explanation – I invite you to look back over the last twenty months of my life through another set of lenses.
I attribute my recovery and good fortune to several factors: my indomitable will to live; the love and support I received from Paul, my children, sister, mother, and my friends near and far; learning and strictly following a renal diet plan; making every dialysis appointment; the attentive care I received from many physicians overseeing my treatment at both hospitals; the professional support and inspiration from my treating nephrologist; building a strong network of other physicians – while not hesitating to let go of those doctors who did not meet my needs; resuming my work-outs with Rahz twice a week, every week, from November until transplant; contacting the Transplant Center at LIJ North Shore University Hospital; the exceptional knowledge and skill of this transplant team; making and keeping all of the doctors’ appointments necessary for a medical clearance for an organ transplant; realizing a dream – by completing my degree in psychology; putting my intention out to the universe that I was going to have a kidney transplant; and greeting each new day as an opportunity for change.
What have I learned from these experiences? Never give up – because you cannot predict what tomorrow will bring. Each new day is an invitation to experience something new – if you are open to the possibility.
Coach Rahz Back….. Are you inspired to step up and take your life to new heights? Jillian is and always will be our MetaBurn Shining Star, Will you join Her? It’s your choice.