Lila Rhyne endured a long journey even before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), but she is glad that it’s a quick trip to the treatment she needs.
Rhyne began experiencing soreness in her eye and then vision problems during the summer of 2009. She went to an ophthalmologist who sent her to a neurologist.
The neurologist recognized her condition could be multiple sclerosis and sent her straight to the hospital. Rhyne needed two MRIs and a painful spinal tap to confirm her diagnosis.
She started a treatment called Avonex, which required injecting herself at home once a week. When her symptoms worsened in 2015, she began going to Atlanta for infusions of Tysabri each month at The Multiple Sclerosis Center of Atlanta.
Rhyne couldn’t drive herself because a bad reaction to the infusion requires her to have a heavy dose of Benadryl, which makes her sleepy.
A single mom of two boys who helps take care of her elderly mom, Rhyne was relieved when she was able to start getting her monthly infusion in Villa Rica.
The Tanner MS Center at Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica offered the perfect solution for Rhyne. Specialists from the MS Center of Atlanta provide check-ups and infusions for MS patients there each month.
Rhyne lives in the city of Chattahoochee Hills in southwest Fulton County.
“It’s so much easier not to have to fight traffic into Atlanta and more convenient for where I live,” Rhyne said. “It has worked out really well for me.”
The infusion center at Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica serves patients with a wide variety of conditions who need medicines intravenously. The center was designed for the comfort and safety of patients. It features big comfy chairs that are easy to climb in and out of, as well as non-slip floors and doors that open by simply waving a hand. It also offers Wi-Fi and individual televisions.
Rhyne, 49, said the comfortable atmosphere at the center puts her at ease during her treatments.
The center has a team of nurses who place the IV line for each patient, administer the medicines intravenously and monitor patients during and after their infusions. Doctors also supervise the center.
The nurses at the infusion center at Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica make sure that every patient has a positive experience, said Rhyne.
“The nurses are absolutely wonderful,” she said. “They are so professional and experts at their jobs, but they are also very kind and caring.”
Rhyne noted that nurse Margie Browning’s sense of humor is always a bonus.
“I can’t say enough good things about the nurses at the infusion center,” Rhyne said. “They always manage to make something you have to do each month for your health condition into something that you don’t dread.”
The monthly infusions of Tysabri prevent Rhyne from suffering MS symptoms like fatigue and vision loss. Rhyne says her annual MRIs have shown that her condition is stable and there is no new damage to her body from MS.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease where the body’s immune system attacks the protective covering of nerves, and this nerve damage disrupts the brain’s communication with the rest of the body. MS can cause pain, tingling sensations, fatigue, impaired coordination, vision loss and more.
Despite having MS, Rhyne lives an active life. She started a T-ball and coach-pitch baseball league for her community when her sons were young, and she still runs it as a volunteer.
“Even though my sons aren’t playing in it anymore, I still enjoy doing it,” she said. “It gives a lot of kids the chance to play who might not be able to play otherwise.”
She also volunteers at her sons’ school and is active in her church.
However, she realizes that many patients with MS have a much more difficult time managing their health condition and have a drastically reduced quality of life.
“A lot of MS patients are so much worse off than I am and are really handicapped and have to pay for transportation to get to their medical appointments,” Rhyne said. “Having the infusion center in Villa Rica is a great convenience for me, but for many patients, it is so much more than that.”