If you think that becoming a parent is out of the question if you have KLS, Nathalie Hoyland will prove you wrong. The 30-year-old careers advisor from the UK was diagnosed with the disorder at 25, but she just gave birth to a daughter and is enjoying every minute of being a mom.
My KLS symptoms began when I was 17, but I wasn’t officially diagnosed until just after my 25th birthday.
Growing up with KLS was very frustrating. It basically caused me to put my life on hold every few months, and as a result, I missed out on a big part of my youth. It was also a confusing disorder to live with. I had self-diagnosed at 22, but until I was officially told I had KLS, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Having to explain my story over and over again to various doctors also got real tiring after a while.
My super support network
Luckily for me, KLS didn’t have much of an impact on my relationships, friendships, job and family life. Everyone I was close to was extremely understanding and supportive of me. However, KLS did affect my education. In my final year of high school, my episodes came on every few months, lasting a week or two each time, so I missed most of my classes and my grades suffered. For my final exams, I didn’t quite get the grades I would’ve gotten if I didn’t have KLS. Fortunately, my school contacted the colleges I’d applied to and asked them if they could adjust the entry requirements for me, so, at the end of it all, I still managed to get a place at my first-choice college. When I started my first job out of school, I got into an episode and had to find a way to explain it to my boss. I didn’t know about KLS at the time, so I told him I had some strange sleeping illness but didn’t know what caused it. He was pretty understanding because he’d suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome as a child and could relate to how I was feeling.
KLS has weakened its hold on me
These days, my episodes are less frequent. The last one was in January 2010, and before that, February 2008. This most recent episode was the longest I’ve ever experienced, though about a month but it wasn’t so deep that I couldn’t function properly. I don’t take medication at all for my symptoms. I once tried Provigil during an episode but it didn’t work.
Being pregnant was such a joy!
I’ve always wanted kids of my own, so when I found out I was expecting, I was so happy. Funnily, KLS didn’t cross my mind while I was pregnant until I did an interview with the press in the UK and my midwife asked about it. The only big risk doctors could see during my pregnancy was that of deep vein thrombosis. They feared that, if I experienced an episode and stayed in bed for a prolonged period, my circulation would become sluggish and I’d get a blood clot in my veins. Being pregnant was fine, except for a little morning sickness in the first trimester and that’s common anyway. Thankfully I remained episode-free throughout the whole nine months. On May 18, 2011, I gave birth to my healthy and beautiful baby girl, Tess Mary Ella Tarplee.
KLS will not prevent me from being a good mom
I love being a mom. It’s still the early days and I haven’t had an episode since giving birth to Tess, so, so far, so good. I’m hoping the sleep deprivation doesn’t trigger an episode, but right now I’m taking each day as it comes and trying not to worry too much. I just want to enjoy my daughter right now. Even if anything does happen, I’m confident I’ll get through it, because my partner and parents are around to help me look after Tess. And if I were to have an episode anytime soon, I think I’d still want to continue breastfeeding my baby. I can imagine it’ll be hard, but I guess I’ll just have to get on with it. Tess is still a baby so we haven’t been apart yet, but as she gets older, she will of course spend days here and there with her grandparents. I’m not sure how I’ll feel if I get an episode I may want a break from looking after her, but it might go the other way and I won’t want to be away from her.
Explaining KLS to my daughter
My KLS episodes seem to be subsiding, and having such long gaps in between episodes allows me to live my life in a very normal way. I don’t see a doctor anymore, and in fact, I haven’t seen one specifically for KLS since I was diagnosed in 2005. I’ve informed myself on the prognosis of KLS, however, and from what I’ve learned my episodes will either stop or become less frequent. I haven’t thought about how I will explain my KLS to Tess. I guess it depends how much of an effect it has on my life. I will try to explain it to her at the level of her understanding, and add to the story when she gets older, if it’s still relevant. Hopefully, my episodes will be long-gone by then!
Article by: Alanna Wong Life