Tracy graduate stays optimistic as she deals with autoimmune disease
Miller, a 2011 graduate of Tracy Area High School, is recovering from autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Like most diseases, it’s a mouthful to say and, for Miller, a mountain to climb.
Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is an infliction where a person’s red blood cells are constantly under attack and thus aren’t making enough blood. Red blood cells carry hemoglobin, which produces oxygen and Miller’s tissues aren’t getting the required amount of oxygen for her to lead a normal day-to-day life.
“It got to where I would pass out and get really bad headaches,” she said. “I’d feel my heart pounding in my head. That’s when I realized something was really wrong. I’d feel nauseous, I would pass out and have this cool, clammy sweat.”
Miller, who is having a benefit golf tournament put on in her honor this weekend, was diagnosed in January of this year. It was then that she was rushed to the ER at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center where it was discovered that her hemoglobin and hematocrits were low. She was put on IV to push fluids and then began to vomit.
Miller was eventually transferred to Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls and underwent numerous labs, blood transfusions and a bone marrow biopsy during her 18 days there. She also received Rituxan‚ a chemo medication used to treat blood disorders. It was there she was diagnosed with autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Numerous trips to Sioux Falls and Rochester followed, and today, her hemoglobin is being maintained and she is on her way to building her strength back up.
“I’m still not completely recovered — I like to say I’m about 80% recovered, but I still have a ways to go,” she said.
For more on this article, see this week’s Headlight-Herald.