Andrew's Guillain-Barré

  • First signs

    After a five-hour drive to his dad's in Wellington, NV, Andrew felt a srange tingling in his feet. He described it as the same feeling you get when your foot falls asleep, then begins to reawaken. It was localized mainly to his toes, with his big toe feeling the greatest effects.
  • The tingling increases

    In the morning, the tingling had spread beyond his toes to the middle of his foot, and by the end of the day, he was feeling a strange tinlging sensation up to his heels. Both feet felt equally strange, but at the time we figured it had something to do with the altitude change. At that time, he also began feeling a little pain in his back, which he attributed to a chronic muscle pain he's had for awhile. After massaging, it felt a little relief but continued to come back.
  • It spreads to his hands

    By the third day, the tingling sensation had not only spread throughout his feet, but appeared in his fingertips as well. Putting on shoes exacerbated the tingling in his feet, and the feeling had increased to numbness. This was the first day that Andrew became genuinely concerned, but we still theorized it was something like a pinched nerve.
  • Calling the advice nurse

    By Saturday morning, the numbness in his toes and feet were prominent and he began feeling nerve pain when stretching. Before leaving, he called a Kaiser advice nurse, who scheduled an appointment for Monday morning. That afternoon we drove home but ended up going to the ER that night because the tingling became constant and he noticed leg weakness walking up stairs. After a long night at the ER, we were sent home to await test results. The initial prediction was vitamin deficiency.
  • ER visit number two

    Andrew's legs were significantly weaker on Sunday, practically prohibiting him from going up stairs. He had also lost coordination and his knees were weak. That evening, he began researching and came across a description of Guillain-Barré Syndrome; instantly he recognized his symptoms. We took a printout and returned to the ER. This time, he was sent home by a doctor who believed he was having an extended panic attack. He was adamant that it was not GBS but agreed to send him to a neurologist.
  • A second opinion

    After taking one of the Ativan prescribed by the doctor the night before and feeling no change, Andrew decided to keep his Monday morning appointment to get a second opinion. He was even weaker, stumbling, feeling tingling and numbness in his hands and feet, as well as a strange taste and sensation on his tongue. He drove himself to the doctor for an 8 a.m. appointment, was diagnosed with GBS by a neurologist called in by the doctor, then admitted immediately.
  • Paralysis begins

    By Tuesday, Andrew could no longer walk without assistance. The feet and ankles were weak and unable to support his weight. By this point he had intense back pain, but his respiration was still okay. The major fear at this point was that the paralysis would spread to the extent that he woulnd need respiratory support. He received his second day of immunoglobin therapy, which gave him an intense headache. He also began to feel major anxiety about what was to come.
  • The bottom

    On Wednesday, Andrew was unable to walk, lift his arms over his head, sit up on his own... even feed himself or brush his teeth. The paralysis spread at a terrifying rate, which led to a lot of fear and emtional stress. On Wednesday, he fell once during physical therapy and again trying to get to the restroom. His legs were useless and unresponsive. He had lost much of the feeling up to his waist.
  • It turns

    Finally, after three full days of IVIG treatment, the condition turned. His appetite returned, swallowing became easier, he was able to slightly lift his legs, and he could turn his body. He also had greater range of motion in his arms and shoulders. He still had little control of his legs. After standing from a seated position about four times, he was completely exhausted and sore for much of the rest of the day. There were clearly signs of progress, though.
  • Feeling returns

    By Friday, Andrew was able to sit at the edge of the bed on his own, as well as stand up from the edge of the bed with the use of a walker. He still had weakened control of his knees; once they bent, he would drop quickly. But his energy level was up, and he was able to put on his own socks, brush his own teeth, and put on his own shirt. It was a vast improvement in two days. A strange new symptom appeared, though -- twitching in his left eye and weakness on the left side of his face.
  • Going home

    After meeting with a physical therapist in the morning to learn how to use his walker and cane to manage stairs, Andrew was cleared to go home. He asked the neurologist about the drooping on the left side of his face, and the doctor explained there would be a lot of strange nerve twitches and side effects that could last several months. Our biggest fear was getting him into the house, which requires about eight stairs, all taller than the practice step at the hospital. He made it, though.
  • Strength builds

    By Sunday, he was basically walking on his own with the walker, though he still lost his balance and was unsteady at times. We only went up the stairs once at night and came down once in the morning.
  • Independence

    By Monday, getting out of the bed and walking with the walker to the bathroom was no longer difficult. Even moving down stairs was swifter and more stable. At the end of the evening, he decided to take a field trip across the street to Walgreen's. It was slow going but successful.
  • Ditching the walker

    Andrew has pretty much ditched the walker now and is relying solely on the cane. He went on his first solo outing, picking up coffee around the corner at Starbuck's. The greatest challenge was attempting to get the door open with his hands full.