Sunday, November 30, 2008

Illness In My Home

I have not been blogging of late due to an illness that has inflicted my 23-year-old son. Generally I refrain from posting personal things, butI felt my absence from the blogosophere merited an explanation.

My son contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome, (GBS) a devastating illness that is recoverable. Basically the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system, which is everything except the brain and spine. The coating of the wires (myelin sheath) for the nervous system are stripped away.

He first complained at work that his feet felt like they were asleep. The next day it was his legs, and he could not work at all. He could barely walk when he checked into the hospital. He steadily got worse, and the neurologists could not definitively say it was GBS. One cannot test the body for an attack by the body itself. It is diagnosed by symptoms and the elimination of other potential causes through a battery of tests. The treatment they decided on was five bags in five days of immuno-globulin.

And yet still my son got worse. He became weaker and his motor skills further deteriorated. His vision blurred and he lost control of his bladder and bowels. His breath became weaker and he lost the ability even to smile.

He was moved to intensive care right before he lost his ability to breath, a machine took over. He could not even close his eyes, they had to place ointment in his eyes and tape his eyelids shut.

Within three weeks my son, with a body like a sock-full of Hickory nuts, went from a double-rough-tough tush hog to being completely paralized, down to the eyelids, and a machine breathing for him. We just waited and watched.

I need to say something here about nurses. Most of his nurses were extra-ordinary people. It is easy to spot a good nurse, simply because a good nurse cares about people. My son always had the watchful eye of a family member with him 24 hours a day. Caring for someone in that state is a lot of work and we made sure it was done. All of the nurses performed their duties, but the really good ones, of which there were not a few, enjoyed what they were doing and made sure they did it well.

Finally, after about a week of being completely out of it, my son jerked slightly from the pin prick of a blood test. Slowly he came back to us. Unfortunately, as his feeling returned, it brought great pain, much like freezing hands thawed out under a hot faucet. The pain was tremendous.

He is now out of the hospital and in physical therapy. They have told us that it is a 20 day program, and since he checked in three days ago, it looks like he'll be home for Christmas.

A very Merry Christmas Indeed.


egregious said...

Love and best wishes for your family from the FDL pups. (((OFG and family)))

Oilfieldguy said...

Thanks egregious.

lokywoky said...

Love and speedy recovery for your son and hugs for you and your family and all the great nurses!

I have the chronic form of G-B, CIDP, and I do not envy your son the 'waking up' part. It's bad enough for me I cannot imagine that for him.

Anyway, all the best.

Oilfieldguy said...

I was told there were two forms of GBS, the good kind and the bad kind. They hooked up the jumper cables to my boy and found he had the good kind. My best to you.