A twelve year old boy woke up one day and got out of bed, to find that his legs were not able to support him; that he wasn’t able to walk without falling.
As the day progressed he lost control of more of his limbs, by the evening he was paralyzed neck down and was being rushed from hospital to hospital as doctors tried to start the best possible treatment for him.
For the next two weeks days he battled for his life, a hole drilled into his neck being his source of sustenance since he was unable to swallow.
That boy is now 30, and has undergone years and years of medication, physiotherapy and with determination has managed to overcome the worst of his paralysis. He still has to wear calipers on his ankles however and his handshake remains rather weak.
What he had was the Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system and is usually characterized by ascending paralysis. This syndrome is one of the leading causes of non-trauma-induced paralysis in the world.
The first symptoms are characterized by the ‘rubbery’ legs described above and then there is a rapid progression of the paralysis upward, within days or even hours.
Facial weakness, sensory loss, deep aching pain, bladder dysfunction, etc are other symptoms.