Reply To: Total Recovery?

February 23, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Just a little update on me. I was diagnosed with GBS on 8/3/08 just as I was about to compete in the World Sprint Championships in outrigger canoeing. Kind of an obscure sport, but can’t be beat if you are a water baby. Anyway, I went down fast and hard, which in a way was a good thing since the drs. couldn’t ignore the symptoms. I had lost both legs in 24 hours and was on ventilation in four days, I think. I say, “I think” because my mind is already starting to insulate me from the experience. If anybody wants the exact time frames my wife kept a journal and I can ask her for you.
Anyway, I was totally paralyzed for about ten days. Ventilator, eyes taped shut, the works. I responded immediately to the plasma pheresis and started moving my arms after the first treatment. The ventilator came out two days after the last treatment. They kicked me out of ICU right after that. I think I was there two weeks. I spent another three weeks at an acute care facility doing serious PT work and went from sitting in a cardiac chair to a wheelchair to pushing the wheelchair myself to getting in and out myself to using a walker. At that point they kicked me out of there and sent me to a rehab clinic where I worked really hard for a week and I walked out of there on 9/12 using two canes. A week later I quit using both canes and a week after that I stopped using canes at all. I was walking every morning to my beloved Starbucks, talk about an incentive…. I started working out with weights at our club on a daily basis to get back what I had lost. I first started out at about a tenth of what I could do before the attack, but now I am actually doing better than I used to just because of the commitment.
By early October I was so bored I was counting the hairs on our cat. Not a recommended practice…. I went back to work on October 13 and my boss (Cummins was absolutely Sterling about the whole ordeal) told me I had control of my throttle. I started out easy at first, but that quickly morphed into me back to full throttle.
I’m back to paddling our outrigger canoes now that I don’t have to worry about drowning if I get pitched in the water! Now I’m working on building that stamina up again as well. My goal is to be ready for the World’s in Vancouver in 2012. Not worried about making it. Just getting to the time trials after what I’ve been through will be more than enough.
Today I still have a little tinglyness in my toes and the feeling of sand in my toes. If I get really tired the right side of my mouth gets kind of puckery, but if you didn’t know me before the attack you would never know I had GBS at all. While in recovery I was constantly mindful of a relapse and since nobody could tell me how far I could push I just kept pushing until I felt I wasn’t doing any good any more. I can remember climbing stairs at the acute care facility and feeling the tinglyness in my hands all of a sudden and thought, “Whoa, better quit for the day.” Other than that I just kept pushing and my body kept responding.
I will be eternally grateful that I came back so fast and I will always be there if anybody needs me for support. Get better everyone. You W I L L get better.
Johnny Mac