Laura Glaudemans smiles while talking to her grandfather during a party at her family's Anneslie home to celebrate the mark of the one-year anniversary of her bone marrow transplant. Laura, 22, has metachromatic leukodystrophy and the marrow donated to Laura by her younger sister, Emily, was needed to slow the disease. (Staff photo by Jen Rynda, Patuxent Publishing / October 19, 2012)

There's a new normal in an old, colorful house off Regester Avenue in Anneslie.

It's one that requires a constant flow of caregivers to provide daily assistance for one of its residents, Laura Glaudemans.

Once a week, Laura, 23, visits the sixth floor of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, where she has treatments in a warm-water therapeutic pool that, above all else, take her out of her wheelchair and place her back on her feet.

For an hour every Tuesday afternoon, she and a therapist stand face-to-face, lock arms and walk slowly in step around the small pool. It's a small bit of exercise, though nothing like when Laura swam freestyle on the swim team at the Stoneleigh pool.

It's also the highlight of her week, a chance for Laura's life to, however remotely, resemble what it did when she was a child and metachromatic leukodystrophy was nothing more than a pair of words that would knock you out of a spelling bee.

Her parents, Paul and Darlene Glaudemans, say Laura was also a water ballerina at the pool, though Laura says she doesn't remember that. Her father assured that somewhere in the recesses of Laura's mind might be tucked a memory or two of twirling around in the community pool with her younger sister, Emily, now 21, or her childhood friends.

But like so many of the typically routine transmissions between the brain and the rest of her body, the message may have been lost.

"I think you did, sweetie," he told her.

She replied: "I don't know."


At a stage when Paul and Darlene Glaudemans should have been enjoying an empty nest in 2008, their middle daughter, Laura, moved back home after just one week at James Madison University and began taking classes locally.

Their youngest, Emily, was working at Razorbacks in Towson and taking classes at CCBC Essex, and their oldest, Tim, now 26, was also out on his own — although both lived just around the corner from the family's Anneslie home.

As far back as six years ago, the parents had noticed slight changes in Laura. With her back under their roof, the changes became more noticeable.

An avid reader who loves Nicholas Sparks books and People magazine, Laura sometimes needed her parents to read to her. A strong student in high school, she began to struggle with her school work. Her handwriting was nearly illegible and, worse, she couldn't recognize how far it had declined. Around the house, Laura asked her parents if they could bring her a bottle of water or fetch her laundry from the dryer.

"I'd look at her like, 'Come on, you can do that,' " Darlene said.

Laura insisted that nothing was wrong, but her parents began to believe otherwise.

"There was a lot of emotional suppression and anxiety," Darlene said. "That's hard to tease out because a lot of girls that are adolescent, they're going through so many things. They do act emotional sometimes. They do act moody sometimes. She wasn't all that different from her sister in some respects, and one's perfectly healthy and the other one, you know, has something really strange going on."

The biggest red flag, and ultimately, the moment that allowed the family to break through Laura's resistance, came on a walk Laura and Darlene took around the neighborhood in the spring of 2011. Laura fell twice, all the while pleading with her mother not to worry.

Her parents brought her to Greater Baltimore Medical Center and, after a myriad of tests, Laura was referred to Johns Hopkins' neurology department.

As the tests — and inconclusive results — piled up, doctors shared some of their theories with Paul and Darlene, who began their own online research. Darlene had an aunt with multiple sclerosis and Laura, then 21, was around the age where symptoms started to show. But that avenue proved to be a dead end.