Guillain-Barre Syndrome

A Good Day

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30 September 2002


A Good Day


Yesterday was a great day for me and I thought I would share it with you.  Before you will be able to understand why it was such a good day you need to know what has happened to me in the last 14 months.


In June of 2001 I was enlisted in the US Navy and stationed in Everett, WA when I came down with a rare medical condition known as Guillain~Barre Syndrome (GBS).  My case of GBS was more severe than most, I was hospitalized for 6 months.  Within 10 days of the onset of my GBS symptoms, I was left almost completely paralyzed and unable to move anything other than my head.  Strangely, I was even unable to close my eyelids.  My diaphragm stopped working and I had to be placed on a ventilator to keep me alive and breathing.  I was on a ventilator for 3 Ĺ months and in an ICU for 4 months before being transferred to a Rehab Hospital in Minneapolis, MN.


During my time on the ventilator my body lay in a bed with absolutely no muscle activity below my neck.   Because there was no movement, my muscles quickly faded away and within 6 weeks I had lost 55 pounds and was quite literally skin and bones. 


As the GBS released its grip on me, I began to slowly get some movement back.  As the movement started to return I had to completely rebuild that muscle.  Even though I had started to recover I could not roll onto my side, chew and swallow food or lift my arms or legs even a fraction of an inch off my bed.  Besides regaining strength, I was going to have to learn to speak, write, walk, and run all over again. 


On December 21, 2001, though I was still bound to a wheel chair which I did not have the strength to operate, my doctors felt I was medically stable enough to be released to the care of my mother and father and begin out patient therapy near their home.


When I left Minnesota I could not hold a fork, dress myself, stand, or even get in and out of a tub.  I was completely dependant on others to survive.  As my aggressive therapy continued, I got stronger and saw more return.  I began to finally be able to do things like hold a toothbrush and get around on a walker.


Yesterday, September 30, 2002 was an amazing day for me and the reason I write to you.  Yesterday morning I woke up, bathed, shaved, and got dressed all on my own.  After I was dressed, I poured myself a bowl of cereal and ate.  After breakfast was finished I drove myself to therapy then  to the grocery store and went shopping on my own.  After I got myself home I made my all time favorite meal! 


After completing a years worth of physical and occupation therapy I am not back to 100%.  My doctor tells me that I should expect another years worth of therapy but I should eventually make a full recovery.  I often become discouraged when I have to ask for help with things which used to be so simple, such as opening my Mt. Dew bottle.  Then I stop and think how far I have come in the last year and things donít look so bleak. 


My ordeal has given me a new appreciation for many things in life.  It is unfortunate I had to go through such a crazy experience to appreciate family, friends, and the simple pleasures of life.



This page was last modified: July 18, 2006