Saskatchewan

Warrior's Call: Regina woman credits fight training with helping her through recovery

Adrienne Mahoney is still getting used to living with a heart implant which was implanted in October, after a rare condition put her in a Regina emergency room before she was eventually airlifted to Edmonton.

Adrienne Mahoney was diagnosed with a rare, incurable autoimmune disease

Adrienne Mahoney says her training in Muay Thai is helping her through her recovery and treatment. (GoFundMe)

Adrienne Mahoney is still getting used to living with a heart implant after a rare condition put her in a Regina emergency room. 

In October a device was implanted in her body which assisted the function of the left ventricle in her heart, after it was attacked by a rare disorder which puts her white blood cells into "overdrive" and attacks vital organs — in her case it was her heart.

"I think I'm feeling great but I know I still have a long road ahead," Mahoney told CBC Radio's Morning Edition. "We still have to carve out a bit of a treatment path to deal with my autoimmune disorder."

Back in September, Mahoney began feeling ill. For years, she said she thought she had asthma but it turned out to be a rare autoimmune disorder known as Eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis or Churg-Strauss Syndrome.

CBC Morning Edition host Julianne Hazelwood spoke Dec. 27 with Regina teacher Adrienne Mahoney. 8:10

There are less than two people in one million who are diagnosed each year and there is no cure.

"It's been really, really busy for the last couple months," Mahoney said.

Mahoney recalled how one of the first things she was tasked with when she woke up in an intensive care unit was standing up, because she hadn't moved in a while.

A titanium device was installed in Mahoney's heart to pump her blood, as her heart wasn’t doing that on its own. (GoFundMe)

She said her training in Muay Thai and kickboxing helped her through the treatment by providing her with some "mental grit." 

Around October, she was attached to a short-term ventricular assist device. Medical staff had asked her to focus on healing herself with the hope her heart would recover on its own but that did not happen. 

"I think that process reminded me so much, as a fighter, of the process you go through week after week in a fight camp," Mahoney said.

As her heart did not fully recover, the device she has now was implanted. Mahoney will be in Edmonton for a while and doesn't know when she'll return, describing the timeline for as "vague." 

"I just want to give back. As soon as they clear me to go back to the community and do some work ... just as much as I can, volunteering in the community, anything like that."

With files from CBC Radio's Morning Edition

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