Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - 6

FACING
ILLNESS

Head On

Perspective and perseverance go a long
way when living with a chronic condition
BY HOLLY FORD

A

6

W IN TER 2017

UVA nephrologist Mark Okusa, MD,
and colleagues were able to stabilize Angela and, after multiple tests,
diagnosed her with a condition called
Takayasu's arteritis, a rare and chronic
autoimmune disorder in which inflammation damages the arteries. "This was
not a straightforward diagnosis," says
Okusa. "Although we see other forms
of vasculitis, this was our first case like
this and we've had none since."
Because Takayasu's causes stenosis
or narrowing of the large arteries, the
primary treatment goal is to maintain
blood flow to vital organs. Exactly how
and where this disease impacts the
body varies from patient to patient.
Angela required a complex vascular procedure to open the artery to one of her
kidneys, restoring her kidney function
and saving her from a life of dialysis.
Less than a year later, she had another
major procedure to improve circulation
to her legs. The disease is chronic and
progressive, so to manage it requires
consistent oversight and ongoing care.

A New Normal

It felt to Angela as if she were transformed practically overnight, from an
outgoing, energetic 22-year-old to someone with a serious illness who required

PHOTO BY JACKSON SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY

s newlyweds in their 20s,
Angela and David Hurt were
just beginning to map out
their lives together. They
had settled into a new apartment and
spent weekends at the racetrack with
friends. They were looking ahead to
future careers and raising a family. But
on Christmas Eve 1999, a medical crisis
took them abruptly off course.
There were early signs, though subtle.
Angela attributed the extreme fatigue to
the stress of planning a wedding and the
sudden loss of her father. The tingling
sensation in her legs was diagnosed as a
side effect of anemia. But this new symptom-coughing and vomiting blood-
she feared was something more serious.
Unfortunately, she was right.
By the time she reached their community hospital in Clifton Forge, Virginia,
Angela was experiencing pulmonary
hemorrhage and renal failure-her
lungs were full of blood, and her kidneys
weren't functioning. With her condition
deteriorating and no easily identifiable
cause, Angela was airlifted to University
of Virginia Health System.
"The doctors told David I had a
2 percent chance of surviving the
night," Angela says. "It could have gone
either way."



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - Contents
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Vim & Vigor - Winter 2017 - University of Virginia - Cover3
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