GBS Relapse

February 9, 2010 at 11:20 am

Hi Beethoven, As to what causes a relapse of GBS, I don’t know. But this reply is coming to you from someone who had three bouts with it. My first experience with it was 1954 at the age of 9. The second bout occurred in 1956, and the third in 1957. Each experience was more debilitating, the last culminating in six weeks in an iron lung and six months in a hospital. Everything was paralyzed but eyelids and heart. (I vividly remember my doctor in Concordia, Kansas, telling me when he sent me home after the second bout, “I won’t see you again with this, Jim. No one ever gets it three times.”) Unfortunately, he was wrong. And I can point to nothing I did or did not do that might have brought it all on.

Fifty-two years after that last bout, I look back on the experience and marvel at what it has meant in my life. Because I was permanently handicapped, it kept me out of Vietnam, maybe saving my life. While it shipped me off the farm in Kansas because I couldn’t do the work, it made it possible for me to go to college and ultimately earn a Ph.D., enjoy a career, and now retire. Lately I’ve been having pains and weakness that I think may be associated with GBS, but it could simply be the ageing process. I hope not to worry too much about it, to stay in touch with my body and its changes, and to enjoy being able to scratch where it itches. (I’ve learned, too, to never play the odds.) Jim