Worst case of GBS doctors had seen
AnonymousJuly 21, 2006 at 2:26 pm
Quaker football players rally behind one of their own
By Danielle Cranin
What is an athlete’s biggest fear? Is it not seeing enough playing time, being benched for a game, or even worse being cut from the team? For Earlham College student-athlete Robbie Page the fear was more than not being able to walk out on to the football field for the Quakers, it was his inability to walk at all.
Robbie, a 1999 graduate of Tri-County High School in Wolcott, Indiana, was home for the summer before his second year at Earlham. He went to bed July 8 as he always did, completely unaware that the tingling in his fingers was the beginning to one of the most painful diseases known.
Earlier this summer he was mistakenly diagnosed with Hepatitis B, and was scheduled to begin treatments later in the year. The unusual feeling in his fingers and hands wasn’t one of major concern, until around two in the morning, when Robbie woke his father from sleep with horrendous cries of pain. His father, Kevin Page, then rushed him 45 minutes away to Home Hospital in Lafayette, Indiana.
He had developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), an inflammatory disorder affecting the central nervous system, including the peripheral nerves which causes ascending full body paralysis. The syndrome starts in the feet and slowly paralyzes the body as it works it way to the head. In less than four days, Robbie couldn’t move any part of his body below the neck.
The cause is not known, and it attacks it victims without a pattern. It is not a genetic, gender, ethnic, or age disorder. Close to 50 percent of the cases occur after a viral infection. The body turns on itself leaving its antibodies and white blood cells to attack the nervous system. GBS affects people in different ways, and Robbie was unfortunate to be afflicted with one of the most severe cases of the syndrome.
³They put him into a drug-induced coma for 21 days,² Kevin Page said. ³During that time he developed double pneumonia, a blood clot in his lungs, and severe problems with his pancreas. To say that he was in critical condition was an understatement.²
During the coma, Robbie was in a padded bed that was molded to his body. This bed would rotate 60 degrees in one direction, return to the center and then move 60 degrees in the opposite direction to keep the circulation of blood flowing through his body. The movement of the bed was also a preventative for bed sores.
The worst element of GBS is the pain experienced by the afflicted.
³It felt like I was putting my feet in a bucket of gasoline, lighting it on fire and then throwing in a live electrical wire,² Robbie said.
Robbie was supposed to report for preseason football practice with the rest of his teammates in August.
Head coach Frank Carr felt that Robbie’s illness warranted serious attention on his part. He visited Robbie several times over the course of his now seven-week stay in the hospital. The NCAA granted a waiver to Earlham that enabled the College to pay transportation costs for a non-athletically related team trip to visit Robbie in the hospital.
³It was hard on our young men. They remember Robbie as weighing 220 pounds and full of the sarcastic jokes,² said Carr. ³Then Robbie comes in the room in a wheel chair at 180 pounds and obviously in a lot of pain.²
The team was able to spend 45 minutes with him, which was the longest he had been out of bed since arriving at Home Hospital. The visit seemed to have positive results.
³Robbie has been in tremendous pain the past few days but Coach Carr and your players made him forget about his pain and problems for an afternoon and lifted his spirits sky-high,² wrote Kevin Page in an e-mail to the team following the visit. ³Seeing all of his teammates has installed a new sense of belonging in Robbie. He’s pushing himself now to return to Earlham with renewed enthusiasm.²
Robbie is now able to feed himself and move his arms without assistance. He is expected to be walking and out of rehabilitation by Sept. 26. The doctors expect him to eventually make a full recovery. Robbie plans to return to Earlham for the spring semester and play baseball for the Quakers.
Robbie’s absence is felt not only on field but also in the residence halls where his old roommate and friends miss him as well.
³Everyone was pretty shocked this summer to hear what had happened to Robbie,² Adam Fowler, a close friend and baseball teammate, said. ³It was hard to comprehend how sick he was when no one had ever heard of this disease.²
Each day Robbie gets a little bit stronger and is able to do just a little bit more of his once normal physical activities.
³His illness really hit the team hard,² said Coach Carr. ³It made them realize that practice may be hard, and hot, and unbearable, but at least they can play football. Robbie can’t even walk right now. That is our team’s motivation for this season.²
The Quakers now take to the field with #62 stickers on their helmets in reminder of their teammate.
That story was written in the school’s newspaper six years ago. In total I spent just under four months in the hospital and did out patient physical therapy for another seven months. I made it back to college for the second semester of school and played baseball the following season and for two more after that. I graduated from Earlham in 2004 with a degree in business and now work in Columbus, OH with a software manufacturer. I still fatigue quite easily and have constant pain and numbness in my feet but I do not let these issues effect my everyday life. If I could offer on piece of advice it would be to use lidoderm patches on your feet if the pain is too excruciating to bear. I used them while I was in the rehab hospital and they helped manage the pain somewhat. I am now a true believer that what does not kill you makes you stronger. Work hard in therapy no matter how much it hurts and no matter how tired you feel. You will see the benefits in the long run and will be thankful you did.
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