Chapter 4: THE DIAGNOSIS: GBS

My neurologist made a Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) Analysis. He inserted a needle into my lower back (lumbar region) and extracted a sample of the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal canal. It was necessary for a complete diagnosis. After the examination, he told us that I contracted Landry Guillain Barre Syndrome (Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) or GBS, a rare disease that causes progressive muscle weakness and paralysis. It has no direct treatment. It causes inflammation and destruction of the myelin sheath, the insulating substance wrapped around nerves in the body serving to speed conduction of nerve impulses. Without it, nerve conduction slows or stops resulting to paralysis.

However, the worst for all of us came when the respirator broke down and there was no replacement. They had to use an ambo bag to pump air into my body for the entire time it was out-of-order, which took days. Only one nurse assigned in the ICU at that time could press the ambo bag hard enough to pump a good volume of air into my lungs at a rate I needed (her name is Virgie). Therefore, for the entire hours of her shift, all she had to do was press that ambo bag for me so I could breathe. For the entire time, she was standing at my bedside without relief. Only my dad and brother could take her place after her shift. I could not forget her and I am sure she could not forget that experience too!

My neurologist insisted to transfer me to another hospital. The type of respirator I was using could not regulate the amount of oxygen that went into my body. Excessive oxygen content in the blood could be fatal so I had to use compressed air instead of oxygen. However, it was more expensive and the hospital had limited supply since not too many patients use it. What I needed was an oven-type respirator that could safely regulate the oxygen inflow. At that time, I heard, such equipment was available only in first-class hospitals and I heard that a pulmonary specialist personally owned those limited units.

My parents did not know what to do. They did not know who that doctor was except for his name. All they could do was pray. Then there was this one time; my mother was in the elevator with two other people who were having a conversation. When they stepped out of the elevator, the other person bid goodbye to his friend and called him by his name. He was the pulmonary specialist. I could imagine my mom’s eyes opened wide. She followed him. She took the opportunity to ask for his help, that I might rent one of his life support machines. I did not witness that conversation but I could almost hear her trembling voice, I could almost see the tears in her eyes as she enthusiastically told me about their conversation and the positive response she got from the doctor. Eventually, they transferred me to Manila Doctor’s Hospital. As I was lying down on the ambulance, I could only pray for better days to come. When I entered the hospital room, an oven-type respirator was waiting there at my bedside ready for my use. However, they had to transfer me to the ICU again because my neurologist was afraid that I might develop pneumonia. There in the ICU, a pastor prayed over me who was still a student pastor that time…

>Chapter 5: Initial Victory

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