Angela Van Batavia, a wife and mother from Kansas City, Missouri, has dealt with health problems since childhood. One byproduct of this is that she always felt tired, but this is something that she didn't think was a serious concern. She told TODAY.com, "I always remember being tired, but thought, I worked and had three kids — doesn't everyone feel this way?"
Little did she know that everyone does not feel this way. In fact, her constant tiredness was a symptom of primary immunodeficiency, or PI, disorder. For people with PI, the body's white blood cells don't produce enough antibodies, making it more difficult for them to fight off infections. This leads to frequent ear and sinus infections, as well as the heightened possibility that even a small illness can turn into a life-threatening case of pneumonia, for example. According to the Immune Deficiency Foundation, 250,000 Americans have PI, though they estimate that as many as twice that number may actually be affected. The disorder often goes undiagnosed or takes years of doctors visits before being properly identified in the patient.
Angela had similar difficulties finding out where her health problems were stemming from. She was constantly tired and had frequent infections that would not get better--even with antibiotics.
Her health took a turn for the worst following the birth of her third child, so she embarked on a long journey full of appointments with her primary physician, an allergist, and then an immunologist. It took three years of searching, but the problem was finally pinpointed with a blood test that confirmed that she had PI.
While there is currently no cure for the immune disorder, treatments can be found to help alleviate the difficulties that come with a PI diagnosis.
Angela started with treatment injections once a month at the hospital, but now she's switched to a more convenient at-home method. Now that she feels healthy again, life has gotten back to normal. She is a full-time middle school teacher and runs marathons in her free time--two activities that require no shortage of energy, to say the least.
Of her journey towards good health, she says, "It was my slowest time ever. But I did it. Finding a treatment — a medicine that my body responded to was a blessing."
For more information on PI, you can visit the Immune Deficiency Foundation's website.