As Virginia Beach resident Linda Lilley started planning her 61st birthday, she prepared to also celebrate an anniversary of sorts: 12 months without fainting.
Before, Linda fainted often – for 26 years. She even went through phases when she’d faint up to six times a day. Plus, she suffered fatigue, diarrhea, heat intolerance, migraines, nausea, and heart problems.
“I found some help, but never enough,” Linda says. “At one point I was told to take eight to 12 Sudafeds a day to keep my blood pressure up so that I wouldn’t faint. Another doctor said to stop doing that because it would make problems with my heart and nervous system worse.”
A better solution
Hope for relief from her migraines and more came when she met Dr. Amelito Malapira from Virginia Beach. He mentioned Dr. Kamal Chemali, a physician who was soon to arrive in Norfolk and formalize the Sentara Neuromuscular and Autonomic Center, a fully equipped lab that is one of seven in the country. It is the only in the mid-Atlantic region.
Center Coordinator Kevin McNeeley led Linda through a battery of tests about a year ago.
“I try to get people to laugh,” says Kevin. “It can be over two hours of tests. I like to say ‘my jokes are the most painful part.’ I also emphasis, ‘when we’re done we will find out all of this is in your head, but not your imagination.’”
Linda understood what Kevin meant: A few doctors had dismissed her and her symptoms. Kevin and Dr. Chemali, however, listened to her, and presented her with a plan: Infusions of immunoglobins, a protein found in blood.
“It’s not a cure,” says Linda, “but I have more energy than I’ve had in years.”