Mary Lou’s NMO Story – Learning & Sharing NMO

 

My name is Mary Lou Gallegos. I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. I am the co-owner/founder of SA Perks L.L.C Detox Juices and Tonics. I am the mother of four amazing children as well as a step daughter. In addition to that, I have four adorable grandchildren. I am a wife of an incredible and loving husband who does all he can to be our biggest supporter. I am also known as a “nature junkie” because I love the outdoors.

At the age of 13, I was diagnosed with lupus (morphea). I had never experienced a flare-up until the age of 42 in 2019. Prior to this, I was at my health peak. I was athletic, energetic and full of ambition. My most precious times were adventuring with my family.

Shortly after I turned 42, I was hospitalized numerous times. It started with a horrible sciatic pain that ran up and down my back. This was followed by hiccups for six days, Gerd, vomiting for two months straight and a mysterious cough that would just not go away. I was in and out of the hospital and doctors were unable to provide me with a diagnosis.

In March 2019, I woke up half blind in my right eye and experienced numbness on the right side of my body. I was rushed to the Methodist Hospital and was immediately admitted. During this time, I became paralyzed from the waist down. It was 18 days of intensive MRIs, spinal taps and blood panels. Doctors had no choice but to discharge me. Leaving the hospital, I was at 40% and hopeless with no answers.

Three days after I was discharged, I received a call from a neurologist with the results that would change my life forever,

“Mrs. Gallegos, I am sorry to inform you but you have been diagnosed with NMO.”

I was devastated! Being in the hospital for three weeks really took a toll on my family and I. I had plenty of time to do my own research and knew that was in fact the diagnosis.

In April 2019, I was admitted to UT Hospital where I received plasmapheresis, Rituxan and physical therapy. Twelve days later I was released with a plan and with lots of hope for the future. Unfortunately, I was going downhill at that point with this treatment plan. Yet again, I found myself in and out of the hospital.

In January 2020, I was finally approved for Soliris. This drug has been a tremendous life changer for me. I have been able to rehabilitate myself with exercise, nutrition and a positive attitude. I am now able to hike, bike ride with my family and continue to work on our family business.

One of the things that I am deeply passionate about is helping others. We started with a coffee shop over seven years ago. That has now evolved into detox and juicing business. One of the reasons we started our juicing business was for our daughter who suffers from lupus and myself. We now proud to offer  products specifically for patients living with different types of rare autoimmune diseases, diabetes, thyroid and other illnesses. We are grateful and honored for this opportunity.

Going forward, I would love to join others who are the voices of NMO. I have learned so much in the two and a half years of  living with this disease. I hope that sharing my story with others may give someone else the hope that they are looking for.

Published on September 1, 2021.