For many, finding out life-altering news can make or break a relationship. But for Maggie and Altaf Jetha of Naples, it drew them closer.
When Altaf’s father became severely ill, a diagnosis wasn’t straightforward. The symptoms pointed toward Alzheimer’s, Tourette’s, or ALS; however, his official diagnosis was a mystery, and the family didn't have a definitive answer until years later.
“We knew something was going on in the family before we got married,” Maggie says. Later, Altaf’s brother became ill and started experiencing the same symptoms as their father. After countless rounds of testing and several misdiagnoses, the test results came back as positive for Huntington’s Disease (HD).
This news was earth shattering for Maggie and Altaf. The pair decided that he needed to undergo testing to see if he also carried the gene for HD.
“So, we met with a geneticist, we went through all the family trees, and saw a psychiatrist to rule out suicidal thoughts,” Maggie says. “Because there's no cure for this disease, it just progresses and it gets worse throughout the years. Finally, we were allowed to get the blood tests. It was like the most nerve wracking two weeks of our life. He had a positive test. So that just like destroyed us. But now life changes.”
The life Maggie once knew completely shifted. She went from a stay-at-home wife to a full-time caretaker. They soon realized that living in Michigan would only make Altaf’s life harder as his condition worsened. Their solution to Altaf’s HD diagnosis was to move somewhere in Florida.
“One day we were relaxing in our pool and my husband randomly suggested we move to Florida,” Maggie says. He realized that spending time in the water, and a pool, was therapeutic.”
After searching all along the Gulf Coast, the pair fell in love with downtown Naples. They immediately purchased a home and moved down.
Over the past four years of living in Florida, Maggie has seen her husband’s health and wellbeing deteriorate at a rapid pace. He went from being able to walk and eat to needing assistance for every daily activity. Maggie has structured her entire life and schedule around him, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.