Gving Back: Autoimmune Angels starting in LaPlace for support

Published 11:55 pm Tuesday, March 17, 2015

By Ronny Michel

LAPLACE — She suffered for 15 years.

Throughout her three pregnancies, the births of her two sons and a daughter, and a 50-hour per week job, Amy Wombles experienced heart problems, thick blood, pain, rashes and low-grade fever.

“It was always something,” she said.

“Once my ankles were so swollen I couldn’t walk. I was extremely fatigued, but couldn’t sleep because of the pain.”

Wombles saw many doctors, yet none were able to correctly diagnose her.

“One doctor suggested a psychiatrist, but I knew it wasn’t a mental problem,” she said. “I knew that something was physically wrong with me.”

Finally, during what she would later discover was a flare up, her husband, Tyce, insisted she go to Urgent Care.

“As soon as the doctor saw the pattern of the rash, he said that I had an autoimmune disease,” Wombles said.

With approximately 100 diseases that fall under the category of autoimmune disease — any disease in which the body attacks its own immune system — it took a few weeks before tests ordered by a rheumatologist were conclusive.

Wombles finally had a diagnosis, Still’s Disease, a rare condition most often found in women.

“I was confused and afraid,” Wombles said, “but also relieved because there was finally an answer.”

She immediately quit her job and began to take medication, which included a weekly chemotherapy pill, to prevent further damage from the disease and to manage her symptoms.

In addition to the medicine, she self-administered large doses of positive thinking.

“I was a very negative person,” Wombles admitted. “But after I read a book on positive thinking, I made a decision to change my thoughts.”

She has since read countless books on the subject and credits her alteration in attitude to completely changing her life.

During her frequent trips to the library, she also read books on nutrition.

The information Wombles gathered motivated her to change her family’s diet, grow her own fruit and vegetables and read the labels before making a supermarket purchase.

“Little changes, like switching to Himalayan pink salt, can make a big difference,” she said.

With the disease under control, Wombles can do more now than a year ago, and the evidence of that is clear.

She currently writes a blog (amywombles.wordpress.com), volunteers and is starting Autoimmune Angels, a support group for people living with autoimmune diseases.

The group meets for the first time at 7 p.m. today at First United Methodist Church, 301 Bamboo Road in LaPlace.

The meetings, which will be held on the second Wednesday of each month, are for people with an autoimmune disease, their family members and friends.

“Meetings will be fun and informative,” Wombles said. “I will share healthy tips for someone who is suffering, and also help family members to learn what they can do.”

Although she describes herself as a quiet and shy person, Wombles has moved past her fear of speaking before people in order to help others.

“I want everyone living with autoimmune symptoms to know that they are not alone, and together we can make a difference,” she said.