Tresa Harrington is a screen writer and survivor of Rheumatic fever, find out how she dealt with this horrible disease.
Tresa you grew up around show biz, your father is Pat Harrington of “One Day At A Time” and you are now a writer. Tell us about your projects.
Well, I currently have one purchased feature-length script, Holidazed: a dysfunctional family holiday dramady thru Open Window Films. We are looking to shoot sometime next year as an MOW.
You had a long and tedious battle with Rheumatic Heart/Rheumatic Fever , tell us about that.
I don't even know where to begin with that one! As a child, I had strep throat a lot. But unfortunately was in that demographic where 'they' didn't just take out your tonsils. That is why they take kids' tonsils out when they get recurring strep infections: so they don't get Rheumatic Fever/Rheumatic Heart. If a child gets R.F./R.H. they can die pretty quick, as the heart is not fully formed. And they have to stay on penicillin for at least 5 years!!! It's not very common in adults, which is one of the reason's I went incorrectly diagnosed for almost 3 years! Now that I know how to read a blood test, it's inconceivable to me that it wasn't figured out for so long. Some of the diagnosis' I got were: Swine Flu, Coccidiomycosis or Valley Fever, (a virulent fungal lung infection, that the CDC is now calling a hidden epidemic, as it is in the air in most of the Southwestern areas of the US, especially in the San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and the southwestern regions of Texas.
www.valleyfeversurvivor.com. Worth checking out), and Lyme Disease, which is also an awful, awful, disease. I know several people with chronic Lyme, and their lives have been torn apart, to the point where they cannot work, exercise or even have a remnant of the quality of life they once had. Lyme is in every state; especially the colder climate states. it can be transmitted through tics, mosquitos, horse flies and fleas. Unless you get treated right away, like within the first couple of weeks, it can become an ongoing nightmare. If I were one of your readers, I would definitely educate myself on both of these infectious diseases. Early detection is crucial in every kind of disease: be it Cancer, Lyme, Valley Fever or Hemolytic Strep, which I had.
Once I found Dr. Jeffrey Galpin, Infectious Disease, Immunology, and Internal Medicine, my life started to change for the better. He knew in the first office exam, what I had, and couldn't believe I hadn't dropped dead from heart failure! He immediately put me on 1500.00 mgs of penicillin for three months. And then told me to get my tonsils out, which were completely septic and dripping strep into my heart and lungs, not to mention my blood was filled with it. There are about 20 markers for strep; every one of mine were positive. About 20% of the world population are strep carriers. I had a nasal surgery back in '09, and it that's when the strep became active and I got sick. Having your tonsils out at 46 is no picnic, let me tell you.
After all the strep was out of my body, we now had to deal with auto-immune aspect. The immune system is an amazing thing. Sometimes it can kill you. The more virulent the infection, the stronger the response, so as not to let an infection permeate the vital organs, killing you. With Rheumatic Fever, it is a very strong response. It felt like I had pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis, and a flu all at the same time for nearly three years. Even after all the strep was eradicated, my immune system was still in a state of crisis. So now I am on immuo-supressors to help me return to homostasis. I still have a long way to go: fatigued, weak and out-of-breath most days, but compared to where I was, I'll take it!!!
You are very active physically, what is your workout routine?
My workout routine now-a-days is very limited: a yin yoga class once a week, and walking the dogs. I can't really do the kind of cardio I used to do. Hopefully as more time goes by, that will get better.
What tips can you give others in the area of health and fitness?
Just move your body. Stretching is actually more important than running yourself ragged. I think yoga is one of the best ways to achieve an all around physical health.
I understand you and your husband are a part of LaToya Jackson's new reality show?
Yes, I have shot six episodes, and I am having a great time. She is a lovely person. Tune into OWN in December and watch!
What’s next for you Tresa?
My script Holidazed is going into production later next year as a Lifetime MOW. Not really at liberty to disclose any more information about that.