- Eyes On
A local woman who has a rare genetic deficiency will not let her condition get in the way of her goals.
Formerly of St. Marys, Jennifer Young was diagnosed with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha-1) and will have to undergo treatments once a week for the rest of her life, with each treatment lasting 2 1/2 hours.
“It’s a hard thing to go through when you are 30,” Young said. “For me, it’s hard, because I hate being sick.”
But Young said her goal is to make the best out of situations in life. She is still learning about her condition, and is adapting it into her routine in life.
“I was diagnosed last year, and it was one of the hardest things,” Young said, “but you make the best out of life.”
Each week, either Kathy Eisert or Justine Egbert, two nurses from Community Health Professionals of Tri-County, in Wapakoneta, come to see Young, and give her treatments in her Wapakoneta home.
“We make it fun,” Eisert said. “We talk and laugh.”
Young said she is appreciative that visiting nurses from Community Health Professionals, a non-profit agency, are able to come to her home and administer the treatment because it makes it easier on her as they work with her schedule.
Eisert said this was the first time for the hospice program to have an Alpha-1 patient whom they treat once a week.
“A lot of people think only the elderly do home care,” Marketing-Volunteer Coordinator at Community Health Professionals of Tri-County Niki DuVall said. “We can do just about anything in the home that can be done in the hospital.”
Young got introduced to in-home care because hospice is what took care of her grandfather.
Young has a port in her chest, in which an IV can be inserted, to provide her with her treatments, including Glassia and Promethazine — which help to keep her levels normal.
“If I miss a treatment, I can feel the difference in my body,” Young said, “and people can notice it, too.”
Alpha-1 is a genetic condition that can cause liver disease or lung disease in adults. Symptoms of the deficiency include shortness of breath, wheezing or non-responsive asthma, coughing, recurring respiratory infections, rapid deterioration of lung function and unexplained liver problems and/or elevated liver enzymes.
When Young was at the physician last year, being tested for asthma, in which she was tested positive for, she also was tested for Alpha-1, and she discovered she had this condition.
Young believes that this deficiency goes back three generations in her family. This sparked her mother, Sherry Willrath, to get tested, along with Young’s daughter, Audrey Crist. They both tested positive and are carriers of the deficiency but they are not afflicted with disease, which means that their levels are normal and they do not need treatment, Young does.
Young’s treatments help to keep her levels normal, and helps her to feel well throughout the week — and this helps so she can continue her studies.
One of Young’s lifelong goals is to attend college and earn a degree. She has recently completed one quarter of college at Wright State University-Lake Campus.
“When I first started college, I struggled, but I knew this is the route I wanted to take,” Young said.
She will not let this deficiency bring her down, especially as she continues toward her degree in the office information systems field.
As her Promethazine dripped out of the plastic bag into her port, Young said it is her goal to teach her 12-year-old daughter, how she can do anything she puts her mind to.
“In the end, I will have a degree,” Young said. “There is nothing wrong with giving it your all.”
Along with being diagnosed with Alpha-1, Young also suffers from other medical conditions and is a single parent.
“Being a single parent is a struggle,” Young said. “You do the best you can with what you got.”
Young recently completed her first quarter of school at WSU-Lake Campus with a 3.0 GPA. She recently started her classes for her second quarter this week.
“I never dreamt in a millions years that I would have something like this,” Young said. “I just want to keep fighting.”
Young is on the path of her degree, and her goal is to work in a courthouse, lawyer’s office, or have a job that allows her to be around people and to help people.
“I’m a people person,” Young said.
Young says that she has the support of her family, friends and nurses and that is what helps her to stay positive and continue reaching her lifelong goals. She also said that taking one day at a time is the key in life.
“I try to have a positive view on life,” Young said. “Some days are harder than others.”