Wednesday, April 23, 2014

GBS: Her first signs

Let me preface this by saying, my mother is a strong woman. She does not let a sickness get her down.  She powers through it.  Her motto:  "Get up and get moving or you are never going to get better."  So when she called me a few days before the initial start of the GBS and told me she had a stomach virus, I thought nothing of it.  That phone call was the beginning to the end of the life we had. Every day from that point forward was a new revelation.

Monday:  My mother calls me with news that she has a stomach virus.  I shouldn't worry because she went to the store and picked up some Imodium.
Wednesday: My mother drives to her primary care physician for her yearly well woman exam.  While there, they give her a prescription of Ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic used in treating bacterial infections.   
Thursday:  She still feels bad and stays in bed.
Friday:  She wakes up feeling like her old self and runs errands.  By this time, she believes she is better.
Saturday:    AM She wakes up and her leg feel "off".  She describes it as they are weak and wobbly.  Oddly enough, the term"wobbly" is used in several discriptions in other articles. She is able to get up wash her face, brush her teeth and change the kittly litter.  But lies back down.
Noon:   By mid afternoon, she notices that she can barely walk.  She is not in pain and has no other symptoms but she decides to call my brother to take her to urgent care center.  They determine that she needs to go to the hospital.
  Early evening:  Her arms start to feel weak and she can't stand up at all.  She calls me to tell me that nothing is wrong but they are keeping her over night.  She insists that she feels fine but just can't stand up.  
  Midnight:  My brother calls me and says I should go up to the hospital because mom seems to be getting weaker.  She can't move her legs at all and picking up her arms is getting difficult.  
Sunday 2 AM:  I show up at hospital and my mother is resting but has noticed less movement in her arms.
Sunday afternoon:  Doctor comes by and notes a decrease in mobility and her oxygen intake is diminishing.  He has tests ordered for Monday.  I stay with my mother and she begins to complain of being in pain. She doesn't know where the pain is but at this point she cannot change position on the bed without aide, so I am up every 3-5 minutes to move her from one side to another.  She is given morphine to help with pain but it does not provide relief.
Monday:  It has been a week since my mother has complained about stomach virus and now she can't lift any of her limbs.  The hospital is monitoring her pulse oxygen levels and limiting the amount of pain medications they give her.  You see pain meds can make you sleepy and your breathing slows when you get tired.  They do not want her breathing to slow anymore.  They put an oxygen line in her nose.  But if they can't keep her oxygen levels up, they will have to intubate her.
Monday noon: Test results come back negative for something in spine that helps determine if it is GBS.  But after another physical examination by doctor, he officially diagnosis her with Guillain Barre Syndrome.  He states that even if diagnostic test comes back negative, physical examination trumps diagnostic test and she has classic symptoms of GBS.  It typically starts with a decrease in movement in the lower limbs and then starts in the upper ones.  For some patients, it can become so severe that they have to put them on a breathing machine.  Thankfully, my mother was not one of them.

And so treatment begins:  IVIG.