To consider myself ‘nearly departed’ sounds a bit melodramatic but on Sunday, October 10, 2010, it was true – but I’m back!
The tale begins on Sunday, October 3rd when I woke up with ‘pins and needles’ in both my feet and lower legs. By Tuesday, the ‘pins and needles’ were in my hands and forearms. On Wednesday, October 6th, I went to the emergency department of my local hospital, the Ajax-Pickering General Hospital, and literally fell out of the car on arrival. Doctors initially thought that I had had a stroke affecting the brain stem but when an MRI was negative for stroke, they quickly turned to a diagnosis of Guillain Barre Syndrome, or GBS for short. GBS is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the body’s nervous system, typically leading to a life threatening paralysis. I was, effectively, a quadriplegic within 48 hours of admission to the hospital.
At 5:30 AM on Sunday, October 10th, my wife Ellen was advised that she should get to the hospital as they were uncertain if I would ‘make it.’ Coinciding with her arrival at the hospital, I went into complete respiratory arrest. I don’t remember much of that Sunday, something Ellen tells me is a good thing but I do remember waking up to see RN Julie looking back at me and my thinking “Darn [or whatever expletive you wish to substitute], I’ve died!” I also remember the respirator, an incredibly Machiavellian form of torture that I fortunately endured for only five days.
I spent two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit where I got to meet and came to know the doctors and nurses who had saved my life and gave me a second chance! The other good news aspect of all of this was that my attending specialist commenced the treatment for GBS even before he was able to confirm the diagnosis through a neurological assessment. His decision vaulted my recovery into the fast lane!
Next post – Becoming a Biped Again!