Katherine's Story

This is Katherine's Story.

Oftentimes, we know the reason we have to head to a hospital: you fall out of a tree and break a bone; your temperature spikes and won’t go down; or your baby decides that today is her birthday and arrives 2 weeks early. Other times, though, we don’t know what leads us to visit Headwaters. 

We just know that something is wrong.

I moved to Palgrave, near Caledon, when I was a baby. Fast forward to today, it’s my “forever home.” My fabulous husband, Cary, and I share three children and three grandchildren, all of whom live nearby. We love living in the country and the freedom it provides.
As the years passed my bones started to ache. I chalked it up to just getting older – this is supposed to happen, right? – but after speaking with friends, I realized that my aches and pains were not normal. 
When I started feeling physically exhausted and I thought I was having a heart attack, I rushed to Headwaters. It wasn’t my heart; the doctors said that I had a high amount of CK – creatine kinase – in my muscles. CK is an enzyme that helps repair muscles after strenuous activity, which is why many athletes have very high CK levels.
The doctor said that my CK levels were the same as a professional football player. The only issue was, I wasn’t a professional football player! Then, to make matters worse, in my early 40s I was diagnosed with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, a very rare form of muscular dystrophy. My muscles were quite literally wasting away.

I immediately started a treatment called IVIG – Intravenous Immunoglobin. Antibodies from over 
one thousand donors were dripped into my blood to help slow the progression of my disease. 
Even though I needed the treatment, I couldn’t get it locally; because my doctor didn’t have privileges at Headwaters, I needed to drive to Hamilton every week. Two-and-a-half hours each way and another five hours for the treatment itself. Ten hours a week. Week after week... for years!

Tired of the long, debilitating drives, I gave up on the treatment and managed to get by. But in my early 50s things got worse. Way worse! My body was breaking; I couldn’t walk. I was supposedly in the prime of my life, but life as I knew it was over. 

The treatments resumed but this time Cary had to drive me; I was just too sore. But this took a toll on him and it took a toll on us as a couple. That’s when Headwaters saved me once again. 

There HAD to be a better way. And there was! Headwaters offered the treatment I so desperately needed and after more than 10 years of going elsewhere, I was finally able to get the care I needed close to home. How perfect: Cary could drive me to Headwaters, and then return to work while I received my lengthy treatment. I was no longer ‘stealing’  a day of his week each and every week. I know he would protest my putting it that way, but that’s honestly how I felt. 

Centre of Excellence in the Centre of my Community 

And last year when Headwaters opened their new Ambulatory Care Centre I couldn’t imagine my luck. The first time I walked in, I felt better. Not only was I able to get my treatment close to home, I was getting the very best care... anywhere! Here I was in a Centre of Excellence in the Centre of my Community! And speaking of excellence, the nurses and volunteers at Headwaters are a huge help.

Nurses like Angela, who greet me with a smile every time I come in. They do such a great job of making me feel at home that I refer to my weekly treatments as my “Spa Days.” No matter how busy they are, they always take time to care for me. I know Headwaters likes to call their staff and volunteers “Angels,” but that’s the wrong word: they are MORE than Angels.

Headwaters gave me the greatest gift I could have asked for: my granddaughter. In fact, the first time I met Charlotte was right after one of my IVIG treatments. I was sore, but I couldn’t let that stop me from meeting her. Being able to receive my care in the same hospital where my daughter gave birth – I am one very happy Grandma!

The care I get has even rubbed off on the rest of my family. Sometimes my oldest granddaughter Claire likes to ride in the car with me as I head to the “Big H.” She loves spending time with me, and I love spending time with her, and telling her about my nurse friends at Headwaters. When she needed to make a trip to the Emergency Room due to her seizures, she was so at ease and calm, because she was going to the Big H, like me. 

Headwaters is so important, because you never know when you will need great care close to home. 
I’ve never climbed trees, I live a healthy, active lifestyle, and heaven knows I’m done with having kids. 
I didn’t do anything wrong, but I still developed muscular dystrophy, and I still needed care. 
I can’t stress this enough: without Headwaters, I wouldn’t be able to walk. Headwaters not only gave me my legs back, they gave me my life back!!! For that, and for a million other reasons, I will always be grateful.

In this season of giving, please give to Headwaters. Because even though you do everything right, you 
still might need care close to home, and Headwaters will be there for you. Just like they are there for me, and my family. 

Have a happy (and healthy!) holiday;
Katherine Thomazi