By y all odds, my Mom should have never contracted the autoimmune illness, Polyarteritis Nodosa (PAN).
Only 1 in 100,000 persons contracts PAN and they are usually men.
However, my Mom did contract PAN early in the summer of 1998. Since May she had complained of terrible headaches and she ran a mysterious fever for two months. My Mom suffered frequent nose bleeds which we later learned was attributed to a high blood pressure condition.
As often happens with PAN patients, her doctors couldn't pinpoint the cause of her trouble. A multitude of tests could give no clue as to why her health was collapsing so quickly. We finally took her to Passavant Hospital when she was weak to the point of passing out.
When she was diagnosed with the illness in late July, her kidneys had all but shut down, requiring dialysis three days a week. Her blood pressure had dangerously risen to 214 over 110. (Normal blood pressure is considered to be 120 over 80). She lost her appetite and rapidly began to lose weight.
A few weeks later after being treated with Cyotoxin which lowers the body's immune system, she developed a blood infection and that was later complicated with pneumonia. On September 12, 1998 my Mom passed away from the many complications resulting from Polyarteritis Nodosa.
When a loved one is diagnosed with a rare illness, your first instinct is to find out as much as possible about the disease. In this case, we soon discovered there wasn't an abundance of information about PAN.
I turned to the Internet for more information. I found some excellent sources, but in most cases it was written for the medical community. I wanted to talk or write to someone who had PAN, or who knew someone with the illness. I was able to contact some people through newsgroups, websites, or chat rooms. Their support was invaluable. The support and information I found it made all the difference between sitting back helplessly and the feeling I could at least learn more about the illness that would claim my mom.
Click Here to Visit the New Polyarteritis Nodosa Reference Site