Stories

Heather was your typical out going 22-year-old young lady

Heather was your typical out going 22-year-old young lady.  She was living life as a veterinarian nurse before she decided to embark on her big OE.  While abroad Heather fell ill. Because medical care in Europe was so expensive, she decided to return home.  As time went on Heather’s health deteriorated. People at work would say your hearing is bad and that she would notice her vision would play up.  She began to notice the weight just falling off her.  Heather went to doctors and had blood tests and still there was no idea why she was getting sicker and thinner.  By this time Heather had to give up her dream of been a vet doctor and stop studying and even working as she became to sick.  Eventually her doctor told her that she has an eating disorder and possibly mental health issues. Heather began to think she did.  But still knew something was wrong.  She was then admitted into an eating disorder clinic in Greenlane. While in the clinic she got sicker and sicker by the day.  She had all the blood tests you could get, and nothing really stuck out to the obvious eye. At this point Heather choose to discharge herself as she knew it was not an eating disorder, she had she was sick and had no clue why.  Finally, a new doctor picked up something odd in one of her blood tests. He then went on to ask her if she could get herself back up off the ground without using her hands.  And unfortunately, she couldn’t.  From this the doctor then went to get more investigations.  Heather had neurological test, muscle disease tests, muscle biopsy test and nerve studies done.  She recalls it was not long after the Christchurch earthquake when she was told the news that she had Mito Disease. Finally, Heather had an answer for why she was sick and getting worse over the four-year period.  Heather said, “it was relief but also emotional time learning of her disease”. 





Since the diagnosis Heather has gone on to have four Mito Strokes, the last one landed her in hospital for the longest stay of them all.  Three months in hospital followed by teaching herself to walk, talk and eat again on her own.  Finally, after that three months she was told she can go but had to be in alternative care.  Which meant she was not going home but to another facility where she still needed help.  Unfortunately for Heather she had no money to pay for this and was given funding for only part of her stay.  Her dad had to find the money to pay for the rest.  In this time Heather was removed of the sickness benefit and had to leave her home as she had no income to pay the rent.   



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Heather has on going healthcare costs she recently had to buy hearing aids that cost $8,500.00 which has come from her inheritance money (which I not a lot) along with a car safe for her to drive.  She also requires a breathing machine to sleep at night. Along with having to take Cq10 supplements and Thiamine which is not government funded items.  Constant costs make it hard for Heather to stay living in her own home and stay as independent as long as she can.


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