Eddie’s Disease Story
It was in the summer of 1977 when I began to notice some things about my body that didn’t seem quite right. I was nearly 20 years old at this time. I was on a summer missions trip to Michigan when I had an opportunity to lift some weights and was surprised to discover that I could not lift the weights like I used to be able to do. I just thought I was terribly out of shape at the time and passed it off. I also noticed that summer that the palms of my hands at times became itchy. And there was not the flexibility in my wrists when I leaned back on my hands.
I returned to Montgomery from Michigan in early August and was determined to try to get “back into shape.” I tried lifting weights at home but would encounter immediate severe headaches when doing military presses. I enrolled in a body conditioning class for the fall quarter at Auburn University at Montgomery. We ran, exercised, and lifted weights in that class. I became very concerned when I could not do any sit-ups, had difficulty with weights still, and my running was extremely slow. I then decided to go to the doctor to get checked.
As a military dependent, I had base privileges at Maxwell Air Force Base’s Hospital. I made an appointment and was only able to see a physician’s aid. He examined me and did some medical tests. I would later find out that the tests seemed to suggest to him that I had mononucleosis, the “kissing disease.” He suggested I take it easy and check back with him at a later time. This went on for months, all the while I am thinking I had mono.
Near the end of winter in early 1978, I went to practice softball with some of the men from church when my future father-in-law commented to me that I looked like I was running in slow motion when I ran the bases. We had played softball together in the past. So of course I became more concerned about my health situation, knowing that I was not getting better and did not feel mononucleosis was an accurate diagnosis of my condition.
I finally became so irritated with seeing only a physician’s aid that I demanded seeing a real doctor. Maxwell Hospital agreed to let me see an Internal Medicine doctor, Dr. Melida DeLerme, and admitted me to the hospital to do more intensive tests and also to do a bone marrow biopsy. I was beginning to think that we were going to find out what was really wrong with me finally. I spent a week in the Maxwell Hospital. They did numerous blood work tests and I endured the very painful bone marrow biopsy, feeling we were about to find out my problem. I was discharged a week later with the diagnosis “elevated liver enzymes” and was given an appointment to return in a month. It was the worst blow to my hopes. I was so upset. I was angry at the hospital and doctor for not being able to find out the cause for my symptoms. This was perhaps the lowest point I felt during the entire time before being correctly diagnosed. Needless to say, I was not a very pleasant person to be around that weekend.
I could not believe they could not find out what was wrong with me. At this time, I could not even lift my head up normally while lying in bed. I had to roll over sideways and then lift my head. My voice was becoming weaker as was the rest of my body. I was a very discouraged and desperate young man.
to be continued...