Tamie N., aged 20: an energetic gym rat, always laughing and joking, on her way to college and EMT training, swimming and mudding every weekend with her friends in Tennessee.
Tamie N., aged 21: in and out of hospitals, having seizures and migraines all the time, unable to walk, speak, see, or eat while in recovery, beautiful blond hair lost for a biopsy.
How can someone’s life turn completely upside down in a year? For Tamie, it all started with a headache. She was at work as usual in May 2015, having just turned 21, when she was struck with an INTENSE headache. This wasn’t normal for Tamie, who had been perfectly healthy up until this point. Soon, a headache would be the least of her worries.
Tamie spent the next year in and out of hospitals, suffering and desperate for a diagnosis to explain why she was having trouble walking, experiencing confusion and memory loss, and even having seizures. Tamie’s mom, Star, had to quit her job and become Tamie’s full-time caregiver, as she had lost the ability to eat, use the restroom, and move by herself. It all happened so fast.
Was it Multiple Sclerosis? Maybe Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis? Doctors scrambled for answers while Tamie’s condition got worse. This once independent and vibrant young woman was facing an uncertain future, while she could do nothing but wait and wonder if she would ever get to swim, lift weights, or play with her little nephews again.
Finally, Tamie and her family got a diagnosis: Tamie has Susac Syndrome (SS). While the exact cause of SS is not known, it is thought to be an autoimmune condition. By affecting the blood vessels in the brain, inner ear, and eyes, this rare condition causes some very serious health problems. The first sign is usually, as in Tamie’s case, a headache. From there, vision and hearing, along with balance and ability to walk, are severely affected.
Life at home was becoming dangerous for Tamie. One day while in the shower, she fell and ended up with a deep gash in her arm. Her younger sister, Daisy, found her bleeding and called an ambulance, while her older sister, Lisa, held Tamie’s head while she threw up from the seizing and the nausea.
SS typically presents itself in the patient at around 20 years old, an age when you feel wise, independent, and keenly aware of the fact that you can live on your own terms. Tamie tragically only got to experience this feeling of freedom for a short amount of time before her life changed. She is now bound to her mother even more than she was as a child.
But that hasn’t kept Tamie from giving her all to the recovery process. Blood transfusions and intense medications are a part of her life now, and she braves it all with a great attitude. Tamie attends physical therapy to rehabilitate her body and her mind. Losing the independence she had just begun to know took its mental toll on her. Before this ordeal, Tamie was always busy with work and friends.
With her body getting stronger and her determination as strong as ever, Tamie is actually hoping to find employment again. She doesn’t give up; not on herself, not on her doctors, not on the process. And we are happy to reassure Tamie that the world hasn’t given up on her either. Far, far from it. Chive Charities -by way our selfless donors- is able to give Tamie some of her independence back.
Thanks to YOU readers and donors, we were able to purchase a $4,640 Bruno wheelchair lift for Tamie and her family, so that she can take her electric wheelchair with her easily wherever she wants to go! This will be a complete game-changer; before this donation, Tamie was forced to travel with just her manual wheelchair.
That made things like concerts (which Tamie is able to attend now, thanks to her hard work in physical therapy!) a huge hassle. Now that she can move herself around easily no matter where she goes, Tamie won’t need her mother’s help just to get around, restoring some of the freedom she lost, freedom she deserves.
Life can change in the blink of an eye; Tamie’s story is a poignant reminder of that fact. Her life is changing in an instant again with the gift of this wheelchair trailer. Life’s surprises can be difficult, but they can also be really amazing, and our donors are proof of that.
And we hope we’re just getting started. Last week we had to say “no” to dozens of potential recipients, like Tamie, who just need a little extra help. The fact is that we just don’t have enough Chiver donors to say “yes” as much as we would like. Do you have an extra $5, $10, or $25 per month to help us deliver good news to the next underdog in need?
To change the life of someone who could badly use a happy surprise, become a Chive Charities donor HERE!
Smiles like these are what you can give as a donor! We are not just giving our recipients a wad of cash and sending them on their way; we are incorporating them into our little family and truly changing their lives.