Just a year ago, family man Billy Anderson fell ill and never recovered. Over 12 months, 5 hospitals, and 40 possible diagnoses later, doctors are left baffled by what is now known as “Billy’s Disease.”
The day was supposed to be remembered as one filled with happiness. Their daughter, after all, had just turned 2 years old. Instead, Nikki Peterson remembers December 30, 2007 as the day her husband Billy got sick.
Billy Anderson was in fine health until that evening last winter. He woke up in pain and his wife rushed him to the emergency room. Over the next few days, he suffered a number of ailments, from a running fever and hives to swelling joints.
Nikki says she knew there was something wrong when Billy, age 29, was no longer able to walk around the house. “This is a 6-foot, 240-pound guy who doesn’t usually complain about anything,” she says.
The couple, from Baxter Springs, Kansas, made three trips to the emergency room. On their third visit, Nikki refused to go home until doctors agreed to keep Billy in the hospital for further evaluation.
Since then, Billy has been in and out of intensive care. He’s spent time on a ventilator and suffered kidney failure. His body isn’t absorbing nutrients, and as a result, his 240-pound frame has been whittled down by 100 pounds.
One year and a battery of tests later, doctors still haven’t pinpointed the cause of his condition. At one point, they thought he had Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease, but that turned out not to be the case.
CNN’s medical show “Vital Signs” recently asked viewers to tell their health stories on iReport.com. Nikki and her mom, Vicki Peterson, jumped at the opportunity.
They hope their story will reach someone who can help solve Billy’s unexplained illness. Doctors have gone through at least 40 possible diagnoses, according to Nikki.
“We’ve been told that this is ‘Billy’s Disease,’ and that this will be written about in medical journals. We hope somebody has missed a test or overlooked something,” she says.
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