Multiple myeloma

Amanda Koch: From paraplegia to walking again

March 5, 2024 Word for Word Media 0Comment

Amanda Koch details her emotional journey of paraplegia due to multiple myeloma to the miracle of walking again and successful treatment.

Amanda Koch (63) lives on a farm in Moorreesburg, Western Cape with her husband, Danie. They have two adult children, a son and daughter, and a grandson.

Holiday in Namibia

In July 2021, Danie and I set off for Namibia for holiday. Before we left, we had COVID vaccinations, and since I had been experiencing pain behind my shoulder blade, I had X-rays and a full blood count taken for good measure. No errors were detected. The doctor sent us off to enjoy our holiday.

After the first night, I was given a diclofenac sodium injection by the tour doctor due to severe back pain. I realised my right leg felt numb and Danie had to help me to the toilet. I immediately knew something serious was happening. We couldn’t continue the tour, and the guesthouse owner arranged a consultation with the local doctor.

After two days of lying on a mattress on the floor (I couldn’t get up) and struggling with medical aid to arrange a flight, we arranged a private ambulance from SA. The guesthouse owner took me to the border after the doctor stabilised me for the long journey back home. Danie drove alone behind the ambulance.

We finally got to a hospital in Somerset West where a neurosurgeon arranged a scan then informed me that I was paralysed from my chest to feet. He arranged surgery at another hospital and said to me: never ask what if. Those words stayed with me, carrying me through difficult times. The Lord sent that message at the right time, and I could hold on to it.

Surgery results in multiple myeloma diagnosis

The orthopaedic surgeon removed and replaced the broken vertebra that had damaged my spinal cord, leading to paraplegia. During surgery, it was discovered that multiple myeloma was the cause of the vertebra crumbling.

The chance of me walking again was very slim, almost impossible. There was, however, some feeling in my buttocks, which was positive. It was once again a glimmer of hope that the Lord gave us.

My daughter immediately set up a WhatsApp group with our family, friends and people who cared. She kept everyone updated daily on my condition and many people prayed for me and my family. It carried us through; I could definitely feel it.

After seven days in ICU, I was transferred to a rehabilitation centre. I stayed there for six weeks and received excellent physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Some days were easier than others. I had to learn to do everything in a wheelchair. It was a big adjustment and sometimes difficult to accept, but the Lord gave me the strength I needed every day. I told the wheelchair agent that I don’t want a fancy wheelchair because I would walk again.

In August, I began chemotherapy which I went for once a week. My daughter came with to every session. There we met two nurses and receptionists who supported and encouraged me through treatment. Real angels from above.

The start of a miracle

When I got home, a local physiotherapist helped me twice a week. We worked very hard and she was confident that I would walk again.

After a short while I began to feel more sensation in my legs, and I became more mobile, able to shower and use the toilet by myself. I was later transitioned from the wheelchair to a walker and then a four-wheel walker. Every day it got better, I walk alone in my house and outside with a cane. Meanwhile, my son got married, and my husband and I could open the dance floor with him and his wife.

From August 2021 to March 2022, the chemotherapy didn’t make a significant difference to the cancer. I was then put on a targeted therapy and my cancer count dropped drastically, and I was now suitable for a stem cell transplant, planned for October.

After two very strong chemotherapy sessions, I received injections at home for a week, which Danie administered. A week later, my own stem cells were harvested. The stem cells were too many for one transplant but too few for a possible second attempt, which fortunately hasn’t been necessary so far.

The following week, I was booked in for the stem cell transplant. I stayed in hospital in isolation for three weeks; my family could only visit me once a day with masks and other protective gear. After three weeks, I went home but couldn’t have visitors for six weeks.

After all the treatments, my hair started falling out for the first time so I shaved it off. My son also shaved his head with me, in support. It was quite a traumatic experience, but I overcame it.

Clean bone marrow and walking strong

In January 2023, my bone marrow was clean! I was informed that I still need to receive maintenance targeted treatment once a month. I’m extremely grateful that this expensive medication is available to keep the cancer at bay.

This year February, I had blood work and a bone marrow biopsy done, and everything is still clean. Plus, Danie and I were also blessed with our first grandson.

With the grace and love of our Heavenly Father, the care and prayers of my husband, children, family, and friends, we won this battle. And of course, also the treatment and all doctors and nursing staff. So many fantastic people (angels) were placed on my path throughout the journey, without whom I wouldn’t have made it through. Thank you, Lord, for each one of them and Your love and miracles every day on my path. Without the Lord, I wouldn’t be here today.

Editor Laurelle Williams

MEET OUR EDITOR – Laurelle Williams

Laurelle is the Editor at Word for Word Media and graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She have a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Write me: [email protected]

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This article is sponsored by Takeda Oncology in the interest of education, awareness and support. The content and opinions expressed are entirely the patient’s own work and not influenced by Takeda Oncology in any way.

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