Devera Marshall was a take-charge wife and mother, living in San Diego while raising her family. Running her home, taking part in community and church activities and being an avid, competitive tennis player, Devera had a busy, challenging life that she loved.
Nothing prepared her for the sudden, serious and chronic illness that would completely engulf her life, the life of her family and take away her beloved sport, something that was also an important part of her social life.
I had the opportunity to speak with Devera on the phone, to ask her about her illness, how she coped and how she got her life back on track.
Devera simply wanted her old life back -- to become the mother, wife and friend she had been, and to hit those tennis courts once again. Her voice is warm, with a great, throaty laugh -- and laughing is something she’s quick to do.
Her happiness at being in charge of her own home again is obvious. Having been a stay-at-home mom, she found that needing nannies to take care of her children was upsetting.
She didn't like hearing her kids ask the nanny about dinner plans. That used to be her job. Everything used to be her job, even the boring and mundane. And when even the dull aspects of her routine had to be given up because of illness, fighting to get them back was imperative for Devera.
Devera, can you tell us a little about your life before you became unwell?
The joke was that I was super mom. I cooked every meal and packed every lunch for my kids and husband. I did all of my own housekeeping. I did most of my own gardening. I did all of the shopping for our family pre-short bowel [before developing short bowel syndrome]. I was super-independent and athletic too.
What symptoms did you experience that caused you to see a doctor?
In October of 2007, I was admitted into the hospital to have a nephrectomy.