I feel a responsibility to write about the importance of free clinics in our community more specifically, the Maliheh Free Clinic.
It has been 2 years since I was a patient at this clinic. It has hit me like a ton of bricks to share my story. It is a story of hope and understanding. I don’t know where I would be if I had not had this resource offered to me. There is a possibility that I could still be in the same place as I was before they started treating me. That was a dark and scary place that seemed like I was stuck in a hole that I could never climb out of.
I was the full time mother to 3 and had just become the full to mother to 6 more children and was getting married the next month. It was a wonderful time in my life. I love being a wife and mother. I was ready for this to all be set in stone. I had no idea what was going to take place over the next 3 ½ years.
In June of 2013 I had insurance and went to the IHC Instacare because I was having a lot of pain in my legs when I was walking. I also had a large visible lump on my bottom shin and my legs felt like they were inflamed. After an xray I was told that I either had Lymphoma or Sarcoidosis. I only heard Lymphoma because the second word didn’t even register. I was sent downtown immediately to get a CT scan. It came back that it was Sarcoidosis and my side effects would go away in the next several month. Little did I know that I had systemic Sarc and would deal with extreme problems in the months to come.
My lumps turned into ulcers and I was unable to stand for very long so I had to take breaks often and elevate my legs. I tried to ignore the pain but knew that I had to see someone. My insurance had stopped and I didn’t know where to turn to. I looked up free clinics online and found the Maliheh Clinic.
During my first appointment, I saw Dr. Kahn. She was wonderful and really listened to me. At the end of our visit, I showed her my legs. She left the room and returned with a wound care nurse named Caroline. Caroline was a hard no nonsense to the point type of nurse. She immediately jumped into action and dressed my wound. She then set me up for wound care to come in and get regular cleanings.
Over the next several months, my condition worsened. My legs looked like a shotgun spread shrapnel across the bottom of each of my calves. The pain was horrific. Caroline was always there along with Dr. Kahn. They took me in and made a huge effort to have me see several specialist. I was sent for testing on a voucher to IMC to see if we could figure out why my legs were doing this. We wondered if it was weight related, diabetes, infection or another disease…..everything came back negative. Dr. Kahn ended up moving out of state. At that point I felt lost. I had to come in twice a week for my legs to get scraped. It was so painful. At one point, I counted 27 open ulcers. Sometimes I would quietly cry. Sometimes Caroline would stop and hug me. Sometimes, I just needed a week break because I just could not do it anymore. Then, I was introduced to Dr. Douville. He is a retired Doctor and really showed a huge interest in me. He even called me on the weekend to discuss some of my test results. He got me into a Autoimmune Dermatologist, Dr. Lindsey Wilson. We tried several meds and shooting steroid shots into my sores directly. Nothing helped. Dr. Wilson would talk directly with my nurse Caroline and Dr. Douville. After several months, they were able to get me into Grand Rounds at the University of Utah. Caroline and Dr. Wilson met me at the U. After what seemed like 50 doctors, students and staff came through the room, they discussed a plan for me. I had a deep biopsy performed on my leg. It showed that I had granulomas in my legs. This is also what I had in my lungs from the first x ray that began my journey with Sarc. This is pretty rare but after finding out that it was my sarc causing all of this, I was given a treatment plan of Humira and Methotrexate. Within 4 months, all of my wounds healed. It was a miracle.
The Maliheh Clinic saved my life emotionally and physically. I don’t know what I would have done without them. They are an incredible resource for our community and should be highlighted and praised for their efforts. From Dr. Douville, the specialist, Caroline(the best nurse in the world), to Jeanette at the front desk and I can’t forget Charlie….he always got my blood draws on the first try! Maliheh is a godsend. If I ever win the lottery, Maliheh will get a huge donation.
I have since established insurance and see doctors at other clinics. It was sad to leave Maliheh but necessary. Since leaving, I have lost over 221 pounds and have a new spin on life. My children are grateful, my husband is grateful and most of all I am grateful for being given the chance to be seen and helped at the Maliheh Clinic.