Stories: Leigh-Anne

stories_leigh-anne

I had unnecessary surgery done after a malignant melanoma was diagnosed in Nov 2000 and the doctor involved had taken 6 moles from various sites on my body & placed them all in a single, unmarked container. Instead of only going through 1 wider excision, I had to have all 6 widely excised in 2001. My ME began the moment I came out of anaesthetic. After seeing about 10 different GPs, 2 homeopaths, a rheumatologist, a physician, a naturopath, several psychologists, a psychiatrist, 3 physiotherapists and possibly other medical professionals that I just don’t remember, I finally got a conclusive diagnosis many years later.

I had spent tens of thousands of rands by then on oxygenating my blood, countless supplements, the latest “machines offering miracle cures”, anything that offered any hope. My first husband could not cope with “my absence” in the marriage & we got divorced in 2007.

Now, at the age of 41, I have lost my career as well. I have gone from being a highly functioning, busy medical professional to living within some very restrictive boundaries. I had to give up my podiatry practice that I had built up over 17 years due to being mostly housebound. This was not only heartbreaking, but soul destroying as well.

Over the years, I have been treated with disrespect, hostility & sheer ignorance by doctors and had lost hope in getting better. However, I did recently find an empathetic, caring, intelligent, compassionate doctor who treated me with the dignity & respect all patients deserve. I wish I had found her 10 years ago because maybe I would be living a normal life now. Unfortunately, due to being out of work and having no income, I could not continue on her treatment protocol (which is not covered by medical aid).

I have recently remarried & my husband has helped restore a lot of faith in humanity with his unconditional love. I have started adapting to my new identity and do find a slower pace of life and the decrease in stress has significantly improved my well-being. I think a very important part of my journey is that I have accepted that I have a chronic illness and am learning to live alongside it.