Pamila Krabill, Autoimmune Center Patient

Pamila Krabill - Farwell, MI

"I look at Dr. Khan as 'my doctor,' even though I also see others. He's great at being right there and working with me to figure out what's wrong."

A Strong Partner Is on Her Side Against Lupus

"Lupus takes away who you are and who you were," said Pamila Krabill, a Farwell resident and mom of two.

Krabill has struggled for more than a decade against lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own tissues. She experienced a turning point when she began seeing Internal Medicine Physician Abid R. Khan, M.D., medical director for the Autoimmune Center at MidMichigan Health.

The center is a one-of-a-kind resource with an approach that helps patients gain more control over their health and their lives. Dr. Khan has a special interest in helping patients with symptoms of autoimmune disease find their diagnosis, and then coordinating referrals to an appropriate specialist for that disease.

"Autoimmune diseases can be very challenging to diagnose and treat," Dr. Khan said. "They can affect every organ of the body, so it's not easy for an individual specialist to see the whole picture."

Krabill's experience followed that pattern. She has suffered severe joint and muscle pain, headaches, eye problems and pleurisy. She had a series of mini-heart attacks, a stroke, and gestational diabetes. She even had a false diagnosis of herpes.

Separate specialists treated her separate problems, but that wasn't working. She needed more help. A friend recommended Dr. Khan and the Autoimmune Center. With Dr. Khan as her primary physician and health navigator, Krabill was relieved to find an immediate difference in her care.

"Dr. Khan is just great," Krabill said. "I felt like I connected with him as a doctor, and he with me as a patient," she said. "He listened to the things I had to say. Anytime I said there was something hurting, he brought me in to get me tested and find out what it was." Among many other details, he referred her to a rheumatologist, knowing that she would need a specialist's diagnosis of lupus to move forward with treatment.

Dr. Khan is well connected to the nation's leading autoimmune disease experts, able to pick up the phone and talk to them about the latest advances that might benefit his patients. He has been designated a Visiting Scholar in the department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is working with researchers and clinicians at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Michigan, and other institutions to optimize and roll out the innovative model of care that has helped Pamila Krabill manage the medical challenges that come with her lupus.

With core team members located at MidMichigan Medical Center - Clare, the Autoimmune Center has providers affiliated with MidMichigan Health who see patients locally, and can arrange referrals to experts at other leading institutions nationwide.

After meeting with Krabill, Dr. Khan prepared a timeline for ongoing care and continues to see her regularly. When she sees another provider, he will assess and explain any new diagnosis and any other steps that may be beneficial. For example, as he monitored Krabill's treatment with one rheumatologist, he and Krabill agreed that the treatment she was receiving was not aggressive enough and not producing the results she needed. So he referred her to the specialized Lupus Clinic at University of Michigan Health System. They worked out a new treatment plan for her that brought her symptoms under better control.

Many autoimmune diseases share similar symptoms, so accurate diagnosis can be difficult. Patients can have flare-ups, when symptoms get worse, or move into remission, when they fade or disappear. While there are no cures for autoimmune diseases, the right treatments can relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. Dr. Khan and the Autoimmune Center are helping patients like Krabill find those treatments.

"Of all the doctors I see, I look at Dr. Khan as 'my doctor'," Krabill said. "I call him for everything because he listens. I bring him my notes from other doctors, or he’ll call and talk to them."

"He's great at being right there and trying to figure out what's wrong," she said. "It's important, because, as one of my doctors said, if we keep attacking my lupus, that will stop the lupus from attacking my heart and my brain."

Autoimmune diseases can be debilitating and challenging to diagnose and treat. MidMichigan Health has developed a program dedicated to the care of patients with suspected or confirmed autoimmune diseases. At the Autoimmune Center in Clare, we strive to help these patients get the right diagnosis and the best available treatment through comprehensive evaluations and coordination of care with specialists across the country. To schedule an appointment, please call (989) 802-8525.

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