Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS)

At first, the doctors thought I experienced a secondary reaction to the meingitis called Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS).   This occurs when the body attacks its own nerves, damaging the myelin sheath, the fatty covering of the nerves. 

Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare condition, which affect only about 1 in 100,000 people.  The victim suffers paralysis starting from the feet and works its way up, sometimes leading to respiratory failure.  Most people recover from GBS, but it takes time. I was told it would take about two years, the first year in a wheelchair, then learning to walk after that.   From what I read, movement starts to return between 4 - 6 weeks, after that, chances for a walking recovery start to get slim.

I had not moved after 6 weeks.  One doctor admitted that was bad for my recovery.  Around this time, the tests to confirm GBS was inconclusive, and over the next several months, I endured more tests, and in the end, the doctors don't know what caused my spinal cord injury.  The best guess was that it was a virus. Perhaps even just a common cold virus that worked its way into the wrong place.

Regardless of whether the spinal cord injury came from GBS or from a virus - the resulting condition was the same, the treatment and timeline were pretty much the same. 

It's been about a year, and I walk normal enough. The other issues seem to be improving.  So, I "recovered" in about half the time as far as walking is concerned. 

GBS can occur over a few days, or in a matter of hours.  Either way, it is weird how the nerves can be damaged to the point that one cannot walk in a short period of time, but how long it takes to get repaired.

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