Mum Vs Mito

Emily writes about her late mother Michelle.


My Mum's name was Michelle Ann Wells and without knowing it she had battled mitochondrial disease (mito) for all of her life. 

My first recollection of my Mum suffering some type of mito symptom - not known then - was when I was five years old and came back in the house from checking the letter box to find my mum clutching her chest. She was 41 years old and suffering her first heart attack. 

Before this mum had developed gestational diabetes when carrying me, that stayed with her as Type 2 Diabetes for the rest of her life.

Mum was susceptible to illness as her immunity was low. Guillian Barre syndrome devastated her body an auto-immune disease that attack the bodies nervous system. Her recovery was long and my dad Keith (My mum's carer) helped her through rehabilitation. 

In 2013, when I was 15 years old Mum suffered major heart attacks, going in for a quadruple bypass, unfortunately the right side of her heart was so diseased they couldn't put in grafts the left side and front side of her heart was fixable. 

I recall going to visit my Mum in recovery, afterwards, she seemed fine, a little sore. However, the same night as her bypass we received a call to say she had cardiac arrested. 

Her journey was far from over as she suffered more cardiac arrests  and had installed a pace maker. 

She spent 3 months in Intensive Care at John Hunter Hospital in New Lambton (NSW) the doctors and nurses were incredible. Once home she learnt to walk again, move about the house with assistance from my Dad and I. 

In 2016, Mum suffered a flashing in her eye which resulted in a 2 seizures, I recall Mum going to bed saying she had a headache. The next day my dad called me up as I was studying at Tafe to say he had struggled to wake Mum up and had called the ambulance she was now in Maitland Hospital in NSW. It was from there that neurologists suspected mitochondrial disease.

After having a muscle biopsy Mum was finally diagnosed last year with mitochondrial disease. 

From there she suffered Myoclonus (muscle spasms) which would come on suddenly. Sometimes the muscles in her arms and legs would refuse to work properly and cramp up she was suffering muscle deterioration. 

From February to April 2018, my Mum battled through two strains of pneumonia which she could not fight off properly due to mito and received a bad diagnosis from her cardiologists in March of this year stating she was going into heart failure. 

We received help from Palliative Care who were incredible up until her last days in April 2018. 

My Mum was one of the most bravest people I know and she inspires me everyday. 

Emily Wells 

20 Years Old


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