A Houghton Regis mother who is battling a rare auto immune disease that has left her deaf, and with limited feeling in her left side, is hoping to raise awareness.
Leanne Henzel, 29, faces a daily fight with a little-known yet potentially fatal disease called vasculitis, which causes her immune system to attack healthy blood vessels, so as they become swollen and narrow.
The brave mum-of-two has a form of the condition called GPA (Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis) with her symptoms including nerve damage, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, and hearing loss.
Leanne, who sometimes uses a crutch, said: “I’ve had vasculitis since 2013. I remember waking in the middle of the night with the most horrific pain down my left leg and arm.
“Soon after, I was diagnosed with vasculitis and I started IV chemotherapy [which suppresses the immune system].
“I lost most of my feeling on my left side, but then this December I started to lose my hearing and am now profoundly deaf.
“Vasculitis has changed my life. I can’t run around with my kids – pain all over my body means that I’m limited.”
Luckily, Leanne maintains that having her second daughter was a breakthrough.
She and husband Jonathan, 36, already had a daughter, Isabelle (now seven) before Leanne was diagnosed, but afterwards, were told another baby was unlikely.
However, the couple successfully had another girl, Aoife (18 months), Leanne describing them as “her world” with Jonathan and Isabelle learning sign language for her.
Leanne urges anyone experiencing symptoms to speak to their GP, and praises charity vasculitis UK for their help.