Gillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) and Me

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1st Thessalonians 5:16-18

So this is the start of my journey, my new journey, and I know my faith in God will get me through this challenge too. He has promised us that He will never give us more than we can handle. (1st Corinthians 10:13) And that is a promise that I hold close to my heart right now.

This illness started slowly and came out of nowhere. People get it after surgery, after a stomach flu or virus, or after a major infection, and I’ve had none of those, so it’s a mystery, but here’s a bit of a timeline.

On Friday August 2nd, I had a pain in my left hip that caused me to suffer a weekend of not sleeping. But it didn’t stop me from spending the day with my brother-in-law & sister-in-law’s Anniversary party on Sunday. The pain was not there during the day at all and aside from that I felt fine. I’ve suffered from lower back pain for most of my life and I attributed the hip pain to that.

On Tuesday morning as I was preparing to head off to work (long distance truck driver) I noticed that my toes were tingling and my legs felt strange, not painful, just strange, like they were wrapped in plastic wrap. But I had a job to do and since I’ve never really been sick in my life, I just assumed this too would pass.

Later that day as I arrived to my destination just outside Saskatoon, SK I noticed some weakness in my legs and as I did any physical work I was out of breath. I now realized that something was not going right and let my company know that I needed to get to a doctor ASAP. They were finally able to get me headed towards home on Wednesday evening but not before the weakness got much worse. I fell at a farmer’s yard just bending down to grab a dropped shovel and again at our company yard when I was trying to get the gate closed.

My wife met me at our yard and we headed off to Brandon (MB) hospital. I was admitted through emergency for evaluation, and blood was taken, an EKG was issued and they monitored me. Eventually at about 3:00am they diagnosed me with a viral infection and sent me home. This was a HUGE error on their part that will need to be addressed.

On Friday morning ( August 9th) I woke up feeling really weak. I called our local health helpline and they advised me to go to emergency quickly. As luck would have it the local hospital in Dauphin, MB is under construction and the walk from the entrance to the emergency is long and painful. I arrived out of breath and I think they thought I was having a heart attack. When I assured them I wasn’t, they placed me in a wheelchair and that was the last time I walked!

They ran a number of tests on me but couldn’t pin it down to anything and they were prepared to send me home for the weekend and have me come back on Monday for more tests. When I told them that I couldn’t walk and that I had about five steps into my house, AND my wife suffers from her own disabilities, they changed their minds and had me admitted. Unfortunately I’m in a small city hospital and not much happens on the weekend, so it was Monday before I saw a doctor and had any tests.

The first was a CT Scan to make sure there was no brain or upper spine issues and then the next was a Lumbar Puncture, which was used almost immediately to confirm the diagnosis of Gillian-Barre Syndrome. It’s a neurological disorder that attacks the muscles. I was placed on a five day IV treatment of Immune globulin intravenous (IGIV) which pushes the disorder back down the body.

My worst day was Tuesday evening, after my first treatment, I had no use of my fingers, hands, arms, or legs. I’d had a catheter inserted into my bladder and my bowels were not functioning. As my wife fed me supper I turned to her and told her I couldn’t take it any more and was ready to give up. Fortunately she was a little stronger than I am and through tears and prayers we got through that little crisis.

That night as I lay in bed not sleeping, I heard the Apostle Paul’s words from 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” And I did. All night long I prayed for healing, and when I awoke in the morning with regained use of my left arm and some use of my right arm. I broke into tears as I realized that my prayers had been answered and that although I have a long road ahead, God is there to help me through this.

As I lay here now I have very little use of my legs, but I was able stand using parallel bars with assistance from a physiotherapist. I’m having difficulty with eating as nausea kicks in almost immediately. But I’m moving forward and not backwards. This disorder is rare, about 1 to 2 out 100,000 people (US figures) and there is no cure, only treatment. The recovery period is anywhere from six months to three years, and I’m hopeful that because I was relatively healthy prior to this and that it was caught quickly, that I’ll be on the lower end of that scale.

I have not laid blame on God for this current set back in my life, but I’ve accepted it as a challenge that I need to overcome and in doing so build an even stronger relationship with God. I have a wonderful support system through my church, family and friends around the world who are praying for my recovery and I strongly believe in the power of prayer.

Take each day as a blessing because you never know what’s coming next, I went from a vibrant, healthy person to being bedridden in about a week. And with faith, hope and love (1st Corinthians 13:13) I know that I’ll walk out of this hospital soon.

God bless

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