ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. KRQE –
A New Mexico family fighting to make a change in order to be diagnosed with a genetic disorder. Huntington is a deadly disease that affects the brain and right now, thousands of people in the state are at risk of it.
Symptoms of Huntington’s disease such as ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s all occur at the same time. Taking care of someone with it can be extremely taxing on families and for Wilkes, it hits close to home. Savannah Wilks’ journey with Huntington’s disease had already begun.
“My grandfather was actually Huntington,
but I never came to meet him,” Wilkes said. “He died the year I was born.”
This disease has to pass through the parents. The children of someone with the disease inherited it. Years later, the same thing happened to Wills’ mother.
“She knew that she was likely to get the disease, as well as her siblings, and it’s tough because most people don’t start showing symptoms until middle age. In her late thirties, we made some changes. Began to look at him. He saw them, as well, Wilks said. “From what he told me, you can feel the changes that can happen but you can’t really do anything about it. She started to see that she was very excited, very worried. She started forgetting many things and was angry that she had no idea what was going on. ”
As the illness made its impact on her mother, she affected everything from her behavior to her antics. It became difficult for the whole family.
Wilks said, “It was very hard on my father and my brother and I, just to see him because he was the heart of our family.” “When I played the role of being a mother’s parent at my age, I kind of internalized all that.”
She says her mother used it as a form of fitness to stay healthy, as long as she could remain independent. However after an incident, while driving, Wilkes’ father knew it was time to become a full-time carer.
“My mother was really stubborn. She never wanted anyone to help her. She always tried to do everything on her own and was as independent as possible. “When my dad knew he needed to quit his job and be with him all his time.”
Wilkes’ husband Chad says it was difficult to see the impact on his family. Although he lived away from his parents due to a career in the military, it still affected his everyday life.
“From an outside experience, it was difficult to understand what was going on because, at one point,
you think she could control her things, her own mind, and one aspect, you realize that she Can’t do, “Chad Wilkes said. “I was a new piece of the puzzle and part of Huntington’s disease is that they go through the same routine on a daily basis. If you change that routine sometimes, it messes up a lot of things gives. ”
The hardships of the disease made their impact on Wilkes’ parents and a few years ago, the two decided to take their own lives. Wilkes states that depression is a common result of the disease and it is important to tell people that they are not alone in the fight.
“My mother was my best friend. Both my parents were very close. We are a very close family. She was struggling with depression due to Huntington Disease. This is very common, ”said Wilks. “I think it was part of the disease, mentally, she was not able to understand how much she really meant to us,
regardless of what we had to do to help her.”
Wilkes sees on his mother the family members who are suffering from degenerative brain disease. She says this is one of the hardest things.
“The things you can’t fix because of being surrounded by a lot of grief and seeing people are one of the loneliest things you can go through,” Wilkes said. “Even if you don’t know what to say to the person who is going through that way, don’t say anything.”
Eventually, Wilkes made the difficult decision to be thrilled