Woman raises awareness of vasculitis

Published 9:15 pm Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kim Taylor, who works in Suffolk, wants to educate people about vasculitis, a disease she has battled. Despite the disease, Taylor gave birth to a daughter, Reagan, in 2009.

When 33-year-old Kim Taylor started experiencing nose problems and an ear blockage in 2005, she had no idea what she was in for.

During a trip with her best friend to North Carolina’s Mt. Airy in January 2006, while her husband and his buddies were on a hunting trip, she began having difficulty walking.

Taylor would be diagnosed with vasculitis about six months later, and now, for Vasculitis Awareness Month, she wants to tell people about her ordeal.

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It was “almost impossible for me to walk” during that North Carolina trip, Taylor said, and she ended up in the emergency room.

She had other symptoms as well, such as a purple rash and swelling.

“The doctor told me a lot of things it could be, starting with Lyme disease,” she said.

After a five-hour consultation, Norfolk rheumatologist William Gough told Taylor it could be five different things. She was admitted to hospital for a sinus biopsy.

That biopsy proved inconclusive, but a second kidney biopsy “found what they were looking for, and they were able to diagnose me (with vasculitis),” according to Taylor.

She was prescribed three different drugs — one a chemotherapy drug, resulting in hair loss; a steroid, which caused weight gain; and the third ate “the inside of my bladder.”

During this same timeframe, Taylor and her husband were preparing to begin fertility treatment. “I could have been pregnant with this,” she reflected.

Taylor says she has never been in actual remission, but the vasculitis was under control enough for her to conceive. She gave birth to Reagan, without complications, on Nov. 30, 2009.

“She’s definitely, I would say, a miracle,” Taylor said. “We didn’t necessarily plan for her, but I think everybody’s planned by God.”

Vasculitis is a family of diseases with symptoms including chronic sinusitis, coughing, joint pain, skin lesions and lung inflammation.

Dealing with the disorder now means visiting a rheumatologist, Dr. Jane Derrig, every three months. “There’s a chance it will go into remission … I definitely feel like the worst is behind me,” Taylor said.

Taylor now feels obligated to tell as many people as she can about vasculitis. “I have done a lot of research … and I feel I need to be able to pass that hope on to others, that there is chance of remission,” she said.

“There are so many people that haven’t heard of vasculitis.”

Taylor is part of the Hampton Roads Vasculitis Group, organized by Lynn and Greg Lesko.

The group will hold a fundraiser at the Peninsula Pilots minor league baseball game in Hampton on June 8. Email hrvfchapter@gmail.com for more information.