|Master Competitor in ICU, circa 1993|
If you haven't heard of GBS, join the crowd. I hadn't either until my legs, arms and lungs stopped working. Going into total paralysis and living on a vent tube is a game-changer. If you'd like to learn more about this nasty little demon, read here:
There's so much to tell about my GBS journey, but I don't want to waste your time - so here's the nickel tour:
GBS is an autoimmune dysfunction. Somehow, my body read the wrong signals and started to eat the myelin sheaths from around my nerves. No sheaths, short circuit and it's shut down time.
I am 99% sure that my GBS was caused by a flu shot. It's not highly promoted, but 1 in 100,000 get the reaction I did. So when you're getting that dead virus shot into your body, just say a short prayer prior.
Things happened rather quickly. I was at home watching Bill Clinton win the election (November, 1992) when things started to fuzz out. First my arms stopped working, then my legs went. I languished in a local hospital while a general practitioner tried to kill me (my opinion). I was finally transferred to a regional hospital, but the ambulance got lost en route and my attending nurse barfed all over due to car sickness. While she was barfing, I was dying as my lungs shut down.
I made it to the hospital where a neurologist saved my life. Dr. Bhupenda Khatri, you rule, bro. I had 13 plasmapheresis treatments, which are actually like oil changes for the body. They extract all one's blood and filter the albumen. No one knows what causes GBS but the treatments made me stronger each session.
There are many things to report, but let me take this home for endurance sport athletes; my 100 mile mind was the way out. I knew how to suffer, how to persevere over long periods of time, and knew how to overcome adversity. I methodically fought back, through breathing again, to learning how to swallow, to sitting up in bead. I remember in the early days of recovery, I mentioned to a nurse that I would run the Ice Age 50 mile in May (it was January).
She chuckled and said "you'll be lucky to be up in a walker by then."
I finished Ice Age that year. Set my pulse meter for a 130 bpm cap and jogged to the finish. Knock he down, I'll get back up. Tell me I'll be in a walker, and I'll finish the race.
No need to thrive on the past, except when it benefits the future. On my worst days, I can say thank you Lord, I have been given 20 bonus years since GBS; I've been living the bonus life ever since. I also had special people around me who loved me and made key decisions...decisions that kept me alive. I will forever be grateful.
We never know when it's over, when it's time to punch out. My GBS experience set a benchmark in my life going forward.